For the Baltimore Ravens, a storyline this offseason has been a number of reunions on the defensive side of the ball.
They added former inside linebacker and defensive coach Zach Orr as the team’s new linebackers coach. Orr is joining the staff of new defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald, who the Ravens hired to replace Don “Wink” Martindale. MacDonald spent seven years in Baltimore before leaving in 2021 for a one-year stint at the college level.
Then, in late March, the Ravens signed defensive tackle Michael Pierce to a three-year contract in free agency. Pierce played four seasons for the Ravens from 2016-2020 before signing with the Minnesota Vikings two years ago.
On Friday evening, news broke of another familiar face returning to Baltimore: defensive lineman Brent Urban. Urban’s wife, Kate, announced her husband is signing a one-year deal with the Ravens.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebic added that the Ravens are giving Urban the veteran minimum salary, making this a low-risk investment.
Brent Urban's 1-year deal with the Ravens is a veteran minimum salary benefit deal.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) May 20, 2022
The Ravens previously drafted Urban in the fourth-round of the 2014 draft. Urban, who played college ball at the University of Virginia, played 41 games in his four-year tenure with in Baltimore, starting 19 of them. He served as a rotational front-seven player for his first three seasons before becoming an every-game starter in 2018.
Urban has since bounced around a bit since then. He signed with the Tennessee Titans in the 2019 offseason but was released after just a few games. Then, he signed with the Chicago Bears and played nine games to close out the 2019 season, and returned to Chicago in 2020 to start eight of 16 games.
2020 was Urban’s best statistical campaign, as he career-best numbers in sacks (2.5), combined tackles (36), and quarterback hits (4). He graded out as PFF’s third-best run defender in NFL at the defensive tackle position.
Urban signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys this past offseason. He played the first six games of the season, starting four, before suffering a season-ending triceps injury. In those six games, though, Urban helped anchor a Cowboys’ run defensive that allowed just 86.1 rushing yards per game.
Urban has never been a huge “stat sheet stuffer” or sack artist in his career, but he’s proven to be a high-level run defender during his stops in Baltimore, Chicago, and Dallas. Now, at age 31, he’ll look to carve out an impact role in a suddenly-crowded Ravens’ defensive line room.
In addition to adding Pierce in free agency, the Ravens also re-signed Calais Campbell and drafted defensive tackle Travis Jones in the third round. They still have rising third-year players Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington in the mix, too, as well as veteran Derek Wolfe. The Ravens’ signing of Urban is likely to cause some speculation regarding Wolfe’s status in Baltimore, however.
Wolfe missed the entire 2021 season and underwent hip surgery this offseason. The Ravens could create cap savings by parting ways with Wolfe after June 1. If this is their plan, which again is pure speculation at the moment, the Urban signing makes sense as a depth move.
This will be a situation to monitor in the near future. Regardless, Urban was a well-liked player during his time in Baltimore, so his return is surely to be well-received.
He’s most remembered for this last-second field goal block against the Cleveland Browns in 2015, which led to a touchdown return and walk-off victory for the Ravens.