With the initial frenzy of free agency in the rear-view mirror, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal put together a list of his best and worst contracts of NFL free agency. Both of the Baltimore’s big free agent signings, running back Mark Ingram and free safety Earl Thomas, made the best contracts list.
The Ravens’ signing of Ingram is a perfect match of team identity and skill set, providing some stability to a backfield that has included too many questions in recent years. It was curious to see the Saints pay Latavius Murray nearly as much total cash (four years, $14.4 million) as Ingram got a day later (three years, $15 million), because Ingram is far superior. — Gregg Rosenthal
Since being drafted in 2011, Ingram has rushed for 6,007 yards and 50 touchdowns while averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Ingram has had to share the workload with Alvin Kamara, one of the best young running backs in the NFL. A chance to shoulder the workload in the Ravens offense could prove extremely beneficial to Ingram’s stats for the 2019 season.
Ingram is a much more proven running back than Gus Edwards, the undrafted rookie who caught fire and took the starting running back role once fellow rookie Lamar Jackson took over the quarterback position. The two, combined with fourth-year back Kenneth Dixon, could make for one of the league’s best backfields with run-game guru Greg Roman pulling the strings as the new offensive coordinator.
Thomas was the big ‘splash’ in free agency, however. Potentially the best free safety and ballhawk since Ed Reed himself, Thomas is coming off a broken leg at 29-years old. If his play through four games last season is any indication of what he has left in the tank (three interceptions), then Baltimore will be getting one heck of a playmaker on the back end of the defense.
$32 million fully guaranteed is not too much when a defensive scheme and a future Hall of Famer’s skill set complement each other this beautifully. So many of the best free-agent signings in NFL history weren’t about value contracts, but simply being right about an elite player fitting into a new situation. Thomas in Baltimore fits like a glove. — Gregg Rosenthal
After releasing safety Eric Weddle and losing linebacker C.J. Mosley and Hall of Famer Terrell Suggs in free agency, signing Thomas was a huge win for first-year General Manager Eric DeCosta. Thomas brings veteran leadership to an absolutely loaded secondary and should help the previously first-ranked unit generate more turnovers in 2019.
DeCosta has played his first free agency like a grizzled veteran thus far, not overpaying for Mosley or Za’Darius Smith and showing patience throughout the initial craze. DeCosta has made a point to fix the Ravens salary cap situation moving forward, which has been hamstrung by dead money and questionable contracts in recent years.