Baltimore Ravens

Looking back at the Ravens' best free-agent signings

The Ravens aren't expected to take a cannonball dive into the talent pool when free agency begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. So here are my condolences in advance if you purchased a custom-made, purple Vincent Jackson or Mario Williams jersey in anticipation of the Ravens signing one of those stars this offseason.

Making a splash by throwing around cash on talent from other teams isn't usually their style, though that's not to say that the Ravens haven't made significant signings in their 16-year, going-on-17-year history.

Here is a look at some of the most impactful signings Ravens executive vice president and general manager Ozzie Newsome has made over the years (these are in no particular order, but if you want to rank them or let me know if you think there is someone I missed, feel free to do so in the comments section).

--- Sam Adams, DT. The offseason before the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV, they signed Adams to a four-year, $20 million contract and paired him with fellow man mountain Tony Siragusa in the middle of their defensive line. Adams only played out the first two years of the deal, but it's hard to argue with the results. The Ravens defense dominated up front in 2000 as the franchise won its first Super Bowl title.

--- Vonta Leach, FB. Last offseason, the Ravens targeted the bruising fullback and made him the NFL's highest-paid player at his position with a three-year, $11 million deal. Yes, we're only a year into the deal, and yes, the fullback position gets overlooked in today's pass-happy NFL, but Leach's punishing blocks were hard to miss -- and easy to hear -- during the 2011 season. With Leach, a Pro Bowl player this past season, leading the way, Ray Rice set career highs in rushing yards (1,364) and touchdowns (12).  

--- Derrick Mason, WR. Baltimore signed Mason -- the go-to guy for the Tennessee Titans before they released him -- to a five-year, $20 million contract before the 2005 season. Mason finished with more than 1,000 receiving yards in four of his six seasons with the Ravens, and he is the franchise's all-time leader in both receiving yards (5,777) and receptions (471). His 29 receiving touchdowns rank second to Todd Heap's 41.

--- Michael McCrary, DE. McCrary became a Raven in April 1997 when he agreed to a three-year, $6 million contract -- peanuts compared to the big contracts that will be signed Tuesday -- after he recorded 13.5 sacks for the Seattle Seahawks in 1996. McCrary had 41.5 sacks in his first four seasons in Baltimore. His career was then derailed by injury as he played 15 games and recorded 9.5 sacks combined in his final two NFL seasons.

-- Shannon Sharpe, TE. In February 2000, the Ravens signed Sharpe, one of the most productive tight ends in NFL history, to a four-year, $13.2 million contract that included a $4.5 million signing bonus. Sharpe was a salary cap casualty after two seasons, but in those two seasons combined he hauled in 140 passes for 1,621 yards and seven touchdowns -- and played a huge role in Baltimore's Super Bowl run.

--- Rod Woodson, DB. The Ravens signed Woodson, at the time a seven-time Pro Bowler, to a four-year deal worth around $11.5 million in the 1998 offseason. Woodson, then 32, had already been named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team as a cornerback. After one year for Woodson at the position, the Ravens moved him to free safety, and he was the brains on the back end in 2000 for one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.