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Ravens have been contrarians in the first wave of free agency

Jason La Canfora points out that Baltimore has been an outlier

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is a passing league now. We hear this statement repeated all the time. However, the Baltimore Ravens front office has prioritized the run game so far this offseason. By re-signing nose tackle Brandon Williams and acquiring running back Danny Woodhead on the first weekend free agency, they have essentially set the market at two devalued positions.

Brandon Williams was retained on a 5-year, $52.5 million deal with $24.5 million guaranteed. This makes him the eleventh highest paid interior defensive lineman in the NFL, behind players with more pass rushing ability such as J.J. Watt, Calais Campbell and Geno Atkins, but above other space eaters including Damon Harrison, Mike Daniels and Linval Joseph.

In a recent article, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports points out that the market has been soft for run defenders in the first wave of free agency...

The Ravens continued their recent aggressiveness by making Danny Woodhead the first veteran running back to latch on with a new team this offseason. Woodhead excels catching short passes out of the backfield and pass blocking, so he is not a perfect example of focusing on the run game. And his contract is much smaller at 3-years, $8.8 million with $3.3 million guaranteed. But the Ravens did jump in early to secure a running back’s services while similar backs in terms of age and injury history remain available.

La Canfora discusses the running back market...

Now the start of free agency has not been totally dominated by players who primarily impact the passing game. Kevin Zeitler and Ronald Leary have been paid handsomely for their blocking at offensive guard. And fullbacks, including Kyle Juszczyk, have been heavily sought after.

Nevertheless New England, a team that has earned the benefit of the doubt in the area of roster construction, acquired a vertical receiver, pass rusher and cover corner while allowing Hightower and Blount to test the market. And most of the largest contracts have been awarded to edge rushers, cornerbacks and offensive tackles.

La Canfora concludes the Ravens have been a bit of an outlier in the early going...

Have the Ravens found market efficiencies they can benefit from? Or are they stubbornly holding on to an outdated philosophy as the game passes them by? Only time will tell, the wisdom of their decisions in free agency will be determined by the Ravens results on the field in 2017.