By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
5:55 PM EDT, March 12, 2014
The Ravens know how important Corey Graham was to their defense and special teams units the past two years, which is why they maintained interest in re-signing the veteran cornerback.
However, Graham was looking for other opportunities and a chance to play a more prominent role. As a result, the 28-year-old Buffalo native opted to sign with his hometown team, the Bills.
According to ESPN, the deal is a four-year pact for $16 million. He becomes the second Raven unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere as defensive tackle Arthur Jones became an Indianapolis Colt on Tuesday's first day of free agency.
Though his departure isn’t a huge surprise given Graham’s desire to be a defensive starter, it still stings a little for the Ravens who subscribe to the theory that you can never have enough corners. Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith are entrenched as the two starters and Graham’s exit will leave Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson battling for the important No.3 cornerback role. The Ravens will also likely address the position in the draft and/or free agency.
Graham’s ability to play in the slot will be missed by the team. He proved a valuable commodity after the Ravens signed the former Chicago Bear to a two-year, $4.2 million deal before the 2012 season, largely because of his prowess on special teams.
Graham made the Pro Bowl in 2011 as a special teamer, though he chose to come to the Ravens because head coach John Harbaugh told him that he’d get an opportunity to play more on defense.
In two seasons with the Ravens, Graham played in all 32 games and started at cornerback in 13 of them.
He had a team-leading six interceptions, including four this past season, to go along with 122 tackles. He was at his best during the 2012 season when he stepped in as a starter after Webb went down with a season-ending knee injury.
His best game came in the AFC divisional playoffs against the Denver Broncos, when he intercepted Peyton Manning twice. One he returned 39 yards for a touchdown and the other set up Justin Tucker’s eventual game-winning field goal in double overtime.
Overall, Graham has played in 109 consecutive games, the second longest active NFL streak by an NFL cornerback and behind only William Gay (112).
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