"Once you get a Priest Holmes, once you get a Bart Scott; once you get a Justin Tucker, you can convince a player that it isn't lip service," Savage said. "You're going to get a chance to win a role on our roster. I think a lot of time, the free agents that sign with Baltimore feel like they have something to look up to."

Ellerbe, who was undrafted out of Georgia, signed with the Ravens one year after McClain, another inside linebacker, made the team as a college free agent. Ellerbe got a $2,000 signing bonus and a $310,000 base salary. To put that in perspective, the Ravens' second-round pick that same year, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, got a $1 million signing bonus.

Less than five years later, Ellerbe left the Ravens as a free agent, agreeing to a five-year, $35 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens were sorry to see him go, but like with so many other undrafted free agents, they had already reaped the financial and football benefits of Ellerbe's being with the team.

DeCosta joked that guys like Ellerbe are on the "All-Moriarty team," a reference to senior vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty, who manages the team's salary cap.

"Those are the kinds of players that really help the salary cap in the short term, and you get a bonus because you're getting players that end up being really good for you and work fairly cheaply," DeCosta said. "It helps but what really helps is when you find a guy that you have low expectations for who ends up being a really good player who can help you win some games. That's worth really any amount of money. If the guy is a productive player for us, that's really more important than anything else."



Baltimore Sun reporters Aaron Wilson and Matt Vensel contributed to this article.

Eight standout undrafted free agents

Lauded for their success in the draft, the Ravens have also developed a reputation for their ability to sign quality undrafted free agents. Below are eight who stand out:


Player Pos. Years with Ravens Skinny
Will Demps S 2002-2005 Started four seasons alongside Ed Reed and had four interceptions and 3.5 sacks
Dannell Ellerbe LB 2009-2012 Parlayed a strong 2012 season with Ravens into a five-year, $35 million contract with the Miami Dolphins
Mike Flynn C 1998-2007 The starting center on the 2000 Super Bowl champions, Flynn was a key member of the offensive line for a decade
Priest Holmes RB 1997-2000 Started 19 games over four seasons for the Ravens but became one of the NFL's best backs after leaving for Kansas City
Jameel McClain LB 2008-present Before suffering significant spinal-cord injury, he started 44 games over the past three seasons for Ravens
Alan Ricard FB 2001-2005 For three consecutive seasons, he started every game for Ravens while serving as lead blocker for Jamal Lewis
Bart Scott LB 2002-2008 The "Mad Backer" started 58 games in seven seasons in Baltimore and made the Pro Bowl in 2006
Justin Tucker K 2012-present Beat out Billy Cundiff last training camp and then converted 30 of 33 field-goal attempts, including two game-winners

Best of the rest: LB Josh Bynes (2011-present), DL Marques Douglas (2001-2004, 2008), DT Ma'ake Kemoeatu (2002-2005, 2012), LB Albert McClellan (2010-present), KR B.J. Sams (2004-2007), WR Deonte Thompson (2012-present)