Defensive end Jihad Ward has agreed to a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to the NFL Network, and is set to become the third Ravens edge rusher to sign elsewhere in free agency.
Terms of the deal, which can’t be finalized until 4 p.m. Wednesday, were not reported.
Ward, 26, was a healthy scratch in five games last season but was one of the team’s most productive and versatile linemen. He finished with three sacks on just 169 pass-rush snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, a rate that wasn’t far behind Pro Bowl outside linebacker Matthew Judon (six sacks in 302 pass-rush snaps).
In 10 games, Ward finished with 16 tackles and eight quarterback hits, his most since his rookie year, and four tackles for loss, a career high. He played 26% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps, down from 38% in 2019, when he played in 11 Ravens games after a midseason signing. In Jacksonville, Ward will reunite with first-year defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, the Ravens’ former defensive line coach.
His agreement comes a day after Judon agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with the New England Patriots and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue reached a two-year, $26 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, a 2017 second-round pick with just 10 ½ career sacks but high-end coverage skills, is also an unrestricted free agent.
With outside linebacker Pernell McPhee signing a one-year extension Tuesday, the Ravens have just two edge rushers from last season’s 53-man roster set to return: McPhee, who’s 32, and outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson, who has 4 ½ career sacks over two seasons in Baltimore.
The team could also find replacements in free agency, where standouts such as Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram III and Carlos Dunlap are still unsigned, as well as next month’s NFL draft.