OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens' tradition-rich defense has two new vacancies, and veteran outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and starting defensive end Cory Redding won't be easy to replace.
Johnson signed a four-year deal with the San Diego Chargers after building a reputation for toughness in nine seasons with the Ravens.
And Redding joined former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano with the Indianapolis Colts, inking a three-year, $10.5 million contract.
The Ravens maintained contact with Johnson, but were unable to hold onto the popular fan favorite.
"We're ecstatic," Johnson said in remarks distributed by the Chargers. "We're so excited. Even though it's tough to leave Baltimore and there's a lot of mixed emotions because I've been there so long, we couldn't be happier with our decision to become a Charger.
"One of our biggest decisions, we wanted to be in a good area on a good team, and the Chargers fit that criteria to the max. It's a great area, a great organization, and this team's got the potential to be awesome. That's something I want to be a part of."
Johnson, 30, is prized for his ability to stuff the run, playing with strong leverage and a nasty streak.
Johnson started the past 130 games for the Ravens.
Johnson is a former third-round draft pick from Alabama who recorded 58 tackles, 2 ½ sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Three seasons ago, the two-time Alabama team captain registered a career-high six sacks.
His numbers were down a bit because he wasn't always on the field in obvious passing situations where he was replaced by Paul Kruger, a candidate to step into the lineup in place of Johnson.
Johnson was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week against the New York Jets last season as he returned a fumble for a touchdown and delivered two quarterback hits on Mark Sanchez.
Now, he'll play for Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, the brother of Chuck Pagano. He rejoins former Ravens teammates in fullback Le'Ron McClain, who signed a three-year deal with San Diego, offensive tackle Jared Gaither, who signed a four-year deal, and fellow outside linebacker Antwan Barnes.
"That's part of what made it so easy," Johnson said. "Chuck and I have been tight ever since he got there. I met John before one of the games a couple years ago and he's what made this decision so easy.
"I knew him, I knew about him, I know the kind of guy his brother is, so he's definitely the type of coach you want to play for
Redding, 31, was specifically targeted because Pagano is installing a hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme."
And Redding is stout enough to play in that defense at 6-foot-4, 298 pounds.
"It's always a great opportunity when someone wants you, I believe my time was up in Baltimore and Chuck came calling," Redding said during a conference call. "My relationship up there with Chuck over the last two years made this decision very easy. They stepped up to the plate and showed how serious they want me.
"That's why I'm here. It's mostly on Chuck, my relationship with him and wanting to come here and do something special with the Colts. He's a man's man. He treats you like a man. He's a down-to-earth kind of guy and a family man. I'm excited to continue my relationship with him, play for him and continue to do good things."
Redding is a former Detroit Lions first-round draft pick who recorded 43 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks last season for the Ravens.
He played last season under a $2.7 million base salary.
With his two-year, $6 million contract expired, Redding has now moved on to the Colts.
For his career, Redding has registered 407 tackles, 25 1/2 sacks, nine fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles.
The Ravens could promote defensive end Pernell McPhee, who registered six sacks as a rookie, or have him split the job with Arthur Jones.
Redding's considerable experience and understated locker room leadership will be difficult to replicate, though.
"I believe I possess leadership qualities and I'm a leader in my own way," Redding said. "There are times to lead in the front when things aren't going good and there are times to lead in the back when teams are doing well. Pushing and pulling your teammates to do great things, rise above and to make plays. I believe I possess those qualities in my own unique way.
NOTES: Ravens free agent safety Haruki Nakamura began his visit with the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday night. ... Ravens free agent inside linebacker Jameel McClain is talking with other teams and drawing solid interest, but remains in touch with Baltimore. No deal is imminent for him with any team as the inside linebacker market has yet to heat up. McClain could emerge as a priority to retain with Johnson leaving.