Cornerback Cary Williams' gamble on himself netted him a couple million extra dollars as he became the latest to depart from the Ravens' defense.
One year after declining the Ravens' three-year, $15 million offer, Williams joined the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. Williams agreed to a three-year, $17 million contract that includes $10.5 million in guaranteed money within the first two years of the deal, according to his agent, Harold Lewis.
The deal, which has a maximum value of $19 million if incentives are triggered, wasn't something the Ravens attempted to match having already communicated to Williams before free agency began about their salary cap limitations and negotiating priorities.
“I completely understand,” said Williams, who had a career-high 75 tackles, four interceptions and 17 pass deflections last season. “I get it. They weren't trying to do anything at this point or bring back the old offer. No, there's no hard feelings. It's not something that you get upset about it. We won a Super Bowl, and now I'm moving on.”
"We're excited," Lewis said. "Cary is leaving one great team and is excited to join another great team. The Eagles are a great organization. It's a perfect fit."
As Williams went to Philadelphia and free safety Ed Reed visited and negotiated with the Houston Texans, the Ravens officially said goodbye to a fifth starter from their defense, terminating strong safety Bernard Pollard's contract.
The Ravens have designated Pollard as a post-June 1 release, which means they'll get $2 million in salary cap room after that date and will continue to carry his $3.25 million salary-cap figure until then. They will have $1.5 million in dead money for the 2014 fiscal year for Pollard, but they don’t have to pay him a $500,000 roster bonus due this week.
“We needed to find a physical presence for our secondary when we lost Dawan Landry a few years ago, and we were fortunate to land a player like Bernard,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. “He was everything we hoped he would be: physical, tough and well-prepared. Bernard takes great pride in being ready to play, and he does that year round.
“He was a good partner with Ed on our backside, and he fit in well with our team. Like we say, 'He played like a Raven.' He helped us get to an AFC championship and win a Super Bowl, and we thank him for all he did for us. There are many difficult decisions we make every offseason. They become even more difficult when they involve players who helped us get another Super Bowl trophy.”
The Ravens did announce one-year contracts for safety James Ihedigbo and cornerback Chris Johnson.
Ihedigbo is a former New England Patriots and New York Jets starter who had 19 tackles and a sack for the Ravens last season. For his career, he has 109 tackles and six sacks.
Johnson forced one fumble and had seven tackles last season.
Meanwhile, the Ravens remain in touch with former Pittsburgh Steelers star outside linebacker James Harrison and are scheduled to talk again Saturday, according to his agent, Bill Parise.
No contract discussions have been launched between Harrison and Newsome at this time and no deal is imminent. However, the interest is apparently mutual.
Harrison, 34, is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year who was cut by Pittsburgh when he wouldn't accept a reduction of his $6.57 million salary.
“I've talked to Ozzie and we're going to talk again Saturday,” Parise said. “Their timeline is a little slower at this point, but Ozzie's going to have to sign at least a couple of linebackers. I know where we stand.
“He's made it clear that there's interest from the Ravens, and we have an interest. We would like that very much for James to wind up with great organization like the Ravens. So, we'll wait and see where it goes.”
Parise said he's spoken with six other teams regarding Harrison, who was briefly with the Ravens prior to joining the Steelers.
“We've got a pretty strong core of teams,” Parise said. “We're starting to get a better definition of things.”