The Ravens' review: 2012 season
To keep you entertained during the 2013 NFL offseason, blogger and reporter Matt Vensel will go back and review the performance of each significant Ravens contributor during the 2012 season. He started with the team's free agents and recent retires and will break down a new Ravens player every weekday.
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Dannell Ellerbe, inside linebacker( Christian Petersen, Getty Images / February 3, 2013 )
GS: 7 | GP: 13 | Snaps: 694
Season in review: Ellerbe started the season as a reserve, but when Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain suffered major injuries, the former undrafted free agent seized the opportunity. After the midway point of the season, he was arguably the team's best defender and he opened some eyes with how he played in passing situations, particularly as a blitzer. Ellerbe is the team's top priority heading into free agency.
Signature moment: Even though he was playing with an ankle injury, Ellerbe was a terror in the playoffs. His signature moment came as the Ravens clung to a late lead in the Super Bowl. During a 33-yard run by San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore, Ellerbe raced across the field to force Gore out of bounds at the Baltimore 7-yard line. That touchdown-saving play set up the team's late goal-line stand.
Stat that stands out: 4.5 -- sacks by Ellerbe during the regular season, tied for third on the Ravens.
Pro Football Focus grade: +5.4 overall | +7.2 against the run | +5.3 as a pass rusher | -5.1 in pass coverage.
Outlook for 2013 and beyond: The Ravens would like to sign Ellerbe before free agency, but if they can't, they might not be able to match the kind of money he commands on the market. Keeping him would be a big boost as the Ravens enter life without Ray Lewis. But if he does stay, Ellerbe, who has missed 10 games the past two seasons, has to prove that the Ravens can rely on him to be an every-down player.
Update: Ellerbe agreed to terms on a five-year $35 million contract with the Miami Dolphins on March 12.