I couldn’t help but notice a couple of trends with the Ravens’ four offseason additions so far.
First, the Ravens signed four players who were cut by other teams this past offseason. Why is that significant, other than the chips they might have on their shoulders? By signing players who were released and allowing unrestricted free agents such as Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Ed Reed and Dannell Ellerbe to sign elsewhere, the Ravens are again setting themselves up to secure a few more compensatory picks in next year’s NFL draft.
Second, these players seemed to have picked the Ravens for a reason: They want to win a Lombardi Trophy.
Sound familiar? That’s how the New England Patriots have operated, rounding out their rosters over the past decade with veterans who came to Foxborough because they wanted to win. Some such as Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Corey Dillon, and Randy Moss (Moss was acquired for virtual peanuts via trade), worked out well. Others, like Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, weren’t as hungry or as helpful.
(The Patriots also collect a lot of compensatory picks, even drafting some guy named Tom Brady with one a while ago, but no team has had more than the Ravens since their inaugural season.)
Amidst the mass -- and expected, if not planned -- exodus on defense, the Ravens have made savvy, cost-efficient signings to at least fill those voids, if not upgrade the defense for 2013.
Defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears are relatively cheap and will improve the defensive line rotation. The Ravens scored free safety Michael Huff from the bargain bin even though he had others suitors in Dallas, Green Bay and Tennessee. Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was the priciest, but he is still a cheaper -- and maybe better -- alternative to Kruger and notably he picked the Ravens over the stacked Denver Broncos.
In past offseasons, the Ravens signed vets like safety Bernard Pollard, tackle Bryant McKinnie, wide receiver Jacoby Jones, and fullback Vonta Leach. Each helped them hoist the Lombardi.
Canty, Spears and Dumervil all mentioned wanting to a title with a classy organization like the Ravens. I suspect Huff will do the same when he is introduced to the Baltimore media this afternoon.
Credit owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh and general manger Ozzie Newsome for drastically changing the perception of the organization in the past five years. The Ravens went from being a renegade franchise with swagger to a perennial contender with a warmer and fuzzier public image that is a destination for veterans willing to sacrifice a million bucks or two in the hopes of getting a shiny white gold championship ring.
In a way, the Ravens have kind of transformed from the Oakland Raiders of the East to the Patriots of the Mid-Atlantic.
This should be no surprise considering the mutual respect the Ravens and Patriots have for each other. Though right now, the Super Bowl champs appear to be out-Patrioting the Patriots.