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Report: Ravens finalizing a deal to re-sign FA Jihad Ward

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Just hours after it was announced that the Ravens had placed the franchise tag on Matthew Judon and re-signed WR/RS De’Anthony Thomas, Baltimore is reportedly finalizing a deal to retain another one of their incumbent free agents.

This time, it’s Jihad Ward.

Ward, 25, was added to Baltimore’s roster around Week 6 of this past season after being released by the Colts. Prior to that, he played two seasons with the Raiders and one full season with Indianapolis, starting a combined 14 of 27 total games over three years.

The journeyman seemingly has now found a home with the Ravens after a convincing showing in an 11-game sample size in 2019. Ward was signed by the Ravens to add some juice up front and supply pressure, which he proved plenty capable of doing.

From Week 7 on, Ward played more than 50% of defensive snaps in all but one game and eclipsed the 60% mark on two occasions. In 11 games with the team, Ward finished the season having recorded seven tackles, four QB hits, five pressures, two fumble recoveries and a sack.

Much of his value couldn’t be measured in the box score, though. At 6-foot-5 and 287 pounds, Ward has the size and athleticism to play both inside and out, which proved to be valuable on a front seven that lacked many versatile nor dynamic athletes.

The details of Ward’s new contract are unknown but it’s likely a short-term deal and relatively inexpensive. Regardless, it’s a sneaky-good move by Eric DeCosta to retain Ward’s services before the start of free agency.

If the past 24 hours are any indication of what’s to come next week, this could be a very active free agency period for the Ravens. Buckle up.