By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
7:19 AM EDT, May 17, 2013
The Ravens haven't traditionally been big spenders when it comes to signing undrafted rookie free agents.
Their recruiting efforts have been and remain primarily based on selling players on their strong track record of giving undrafted rookies a legitimate opportunity to make the team and become key contributors if they perform well enough.
That includes the following past Ravens undrafted rookie free agents: running back Priest Holmes ($2,000 signing bonus in 1997), center Mike Flynn (no signing bonus in 1997), linebacker Bart Scott ($500 in 2002), linebacker Jameel McClain ($3,000 in 2008), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe ($2,000 in 2009) and kicker Justin Tucker (no signing bonus).
Besides conducting an extensive letter writing campaign, text messages and telephone calls from several members of the organization, including coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have increased the amount of money they invest in signing bonuses for undrafted rookies.
That was the case this year for former Colorado defensive lineman Will Pericak. He received a signing bonus of $13,500, the highest signing bonus for the Ravens' undrafted rookies and one of the highest bonuses among all undrafted free agents.
The 6-foot-3, 296-pound defensive lineman had 207 career tackles for Colorado, 19 for losses, 7 1/2 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks. And he did all that despite being diagnosed in high school with Type 1 Diabetes.
The Ravens gave $10,000 signing bonuses to both Memphis offensive tackle Jordan Devey and Maryland tight end Matt Furstenburg.
Devey is a 6-foot-6, 317-pound second-team All-Conference USA blocker who played in the East-West Shrine all-star game.
Furstenburg is a 6-foot-3, 244-pound tight end who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and chose the Ravens over the Carolina Panthers after receiving a call from Harbaugh after the NFL draft. He caught 60 career passes for 769 yards and five touchdowns.
The Ravens gave Tennessee State offensive tackle Rogers Gaines a $9,000 bonus. Gaines is a 6-foot-6, 334-pound lineman who was an All-Ohio Valley Conference selection and Associated Press All-American.
The next biggest bonuses the Ravens gave out were $5,500 for Florida wide receiver Omarius Hines (64 career receptions, 801 yards, four touchdowns, 323 rushing yards and four touchdowns) and $5,000 for Midwestern State offensive tackle Joe Unga.
An All-Lone Star Conference selection, the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Unga has two cousins who have played running back in the NFL: Reno Mahe (Philadelphia Eagles) and Harvey Unga (Chicago Bears).
Is a signing bonus a predictor of how well a player will perform in the NFL? Definitely not, but it is an indicator of how highly the Ravens regarded some of their undrafted players and the competition for their services.