The Ravens lost two more starters from their Super Bowl roster on Tuesday -- and then cut veteran safety Bernard Pollard on Wednesday -- bringing the total of departed starters to six. The Ravens did, however, sign a versatile defensive lineman who, if he doesn't step into the starting lineup as a five-technique end, could at least play significant snaps in their defensive line rotation.
The Ravens signed Chris Canty to a three-year contract worth $8 million, including $2.8 in guaranteed money.
Canty, 30, comes with name value, having signed a six-year, $42 million contract with the New York Giants in 2009, the first and last time he was an unrestricted free agent. Before that he played for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants recently released him, but he actually played pretty well for them when he was in the lineup. He played just eight games in his first season in New York, but in the past three seasons, he started 41 games, made 111 tackles and recorded 8.5 sacks.
Injuries will be something to monitor. Canty had knee surgery before last season, missed the first six games, and then saw his season prematurely end in Week 16 when he reinjured the knee against the Ravens.
If Canty, who is 6 feet 7 and 317 pounds, can bounce back from the injuries, he should boost a Baltimore pass rush that fell back into the middle of the pack in 2012. While the Ravens do need a nose tackle, Canty is not here to fill that role. He will play the five-technique defensive end position that Cory Redding used to play and that Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee took turns manning this past season.
Pro Football Focus has given Canty positive overall defensive grades the past three years and a total pass rush grade of plus-19.7 over that span. For comparison sake, Jones and McPhee had a combined pass rush grade of plus-2.1 last season, but McPhee had a plus-21.4 rating in his strong rookie season in 2011.
It will be interesting to see how the Ravens will use Canty, who is not as strong of a run defender as Redding was, but who still holds his own there. He will really help the Ravens in passing situations, as they could use a combination of McPhee, Canty, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and rush linebacker Terrell Suggs to generate pressure on the quarterback with what is essentially a four-man defensive line.
This is all just guessing, of course. The ink is barely dry on Canty's contract, one that comes with relatively little risk for the Ravens. We will learn more in the coming months, when Canty is on the field for OTAs.
But my first impression of the deal is that Canty should be a nice addition for the Ravens if his knee is OK (the Ravens obviously felt it was or they would have let him leave the Castle with a failed physical and not a three-year deal). Even if he doesn't play starter snaps, he can boost their defensive line rotation. Make no mistake, though, Canty is not a nose tackle, and that's an area the Ravens still have to address this offseason.