After a brief two-week stay on the open market, veteran inside linebacker L.J. Fort is coming back to Baltimore to play for the Ravens on a one-year deal — according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic and the official team social media account.
Ravens have agreed to 1-year contract with ILB L.J. Fort.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) April 1, 2021
On March 17th, the Ravens declined to pick up the 2021 contract option of the two-year extension that Fort signed during the 2019 season to open up $2,25 million in cap space. The move immediately made him a free agent but, per multiple reports, the team left the door open for him to possibly return at a reduced price tag.
Those reports proved to be true and now the Ravens will be bringing back the former career journeyman. He has been a key cog on both defense and special teams since he was originally signed off the street in October of 2019 as a part of the front seven’s midseason reconstruction.
Despite playing in a rotational role with 2020 third-round pick, Malik Harrison, Fort was arguably the Ravens’ best inside linebacker last season. He was certainly their most consistent and well-rounded player at the position, excelling in both pass coverage and run defense.
He appeared in 16 games in 2020, including the playoffs, and made eight regular-season starts and one in the postseason. In the regular season, he recorded 53 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, forced a fumble, recovered a pair of fumbles — one of which he returned 24 yards for a score, and deflected two passes.
Fort will continue to be the veteran leader and stabilizing presence in a very young position group for the Ravens for at least one more season at a tremendous value per Zrebiec.
Fort agreed to a veteran salary benefit deal. 1 year, $1.1 million. Cap hit is 987k.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) April 1, 2021
He was a reliable resource to Harrison and 2020 first-round pick, Patrick Queen, as rookies both in the locker room as well as on the field. Even if his defensive snaps get reduced as the second-year pros develop, he’ll still provide quality depth on defense and play a big role on special teams.