Defensive tackle Michael Pierce will return to the Ravens on a one-year deal after signing his restricted-free-agent tender Wednesday.
Like inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, who signed his tender in mid-April, Pierce will make $3.095 million in 2019, a significant raise on his $650,000 base salary last season.
By placing a second-round tender on Pierce, the Ravens had the chance to match another team’s offer sheet, if one were extended. They would have received a second-round pick had they decided not to match it. April 19 was the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
Pierce finished with 32 tackles last season in 14 games (two starts) last season and was a disruptive force inside. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out as the NFL’s fifth-best interior defender overall and the fourth best against the run. He had the analytics website's best-ever grade for a Ravens interior defender, a period that dates to 2006.
Signed in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of Samford, Pierce has yet to play more than 54.3% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in a season. Playing in a deep and healthy defensive line rotation, Pierce saw just just 389 defensive snaps last season (43.9%).
He’s set to become a free agent next offseason and could be one of the top defensive tackles available. Brandon Williams is signed through 2021, and the Ravens drafted defensive tackle Daylon Mack in the fifth round. Miami's Gerald Willis could also make the team as an undrafted free agent.