You would think after two Super Bowl titles and numerous player accolades, folks would begin to just trust in what one of the longest tenured general managers in the game does. After getting picked apart in free agency, the defending champs had already been written off as free agency “losers” in 2013. But in just a couple of days time, Ozzie Newsome has made the same kind of shrewd general manager moves that have gotten him consistently recognized as one of the best in the business.
First; the exodus. Ed Reed left the organization after 11 years to join up with his longtime college friend Andre Johnson in Houston. Ray Lewis retired and will make his way to the analyst desk. Bernard Pollard was given a handshake and his walking papers. Meanwhile, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe got offers in free agency that not even Ozzie could blame them for accepting. Just like that, a Super Bowl winning defense was deconstructed.
Things looked bleak as more and more subtractions came and nothing was coming in. When you make your quarterback the richest player in NFL history, there are going to be some issues with the math on the salary cap. So Ozzie decided to do what he does best; be calm and let the bargains come to him. He made the tough decision in letting a franchise icon leave. He had to sit idly by and watch people spend like drunken sailors on his free agents. He had to tell guys thanks for helping win the Super Bowl but I hope you land on your feet elsewhere. But a guy like Ozzie always has a plan.
This has to be one of the most watered down markets in recent memory for the NFL. No guys outside of some really bad teams are getting huge multi-year deals. We’ve seen some of the best pass rushers available take one or two year deals to prove themselves and hit the market when it’s stronger. With all of the uncertainty over the future of the cap, it’s understandable. This is the kind of market a general manager with patience can thrive in. And we can see that with what Ozzie has pulled off the past few days.
With a diminished defense, Newsome decided to throw his hat in the ring for Elvis Dumervil when most wrote them off as simply doing their due diligence. Surely they couldn’t fit his kind of money in with their cap struggles, right? Wrong, when you understand how the cap works and how to structure the hits. Replacing Kruger with Demervil is an upgrade in almost every way. A five year deal for a pass rusher of Dumervil’s talent with just $11 million guaranteed is a coup.
Then, today, he finds a way to get Michael Huff to come fill Ed Reed’s role for just $2 million per season over three years (guaranteed money unknown at the moment). Now Huff is no Ed Reed, but he played his best in Oakland when he was allowed to be a center fielder like Reed was in Baltimore. It’s still a step down from him, but it’s more than just a band aid and the risk is low given the contract.
The crazy thing is that there are still tons of bargains out there to be made and we haven’t even gotten to the part where the Ravens can start to talk to guys about the possibility of restructuring their deals.
To put it simply, Torrey Smith summed it up best:
“You just have to trust and believe in Newsome. He can cut me today and I’d still be a firm believer in him. He has a track record and there’s nothing you can take from that. He’s won two rings, he’s the mastermind behind that. When a guy has that type of reputation, you just have to trust it.”
Filed under: Baltimore Ravens
Tagged with: 2013 NFL Free Agency, AFC, AFC North, Andre Johnson, Baltimore Ravens, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, Elvis Dumervil, Houston Texans, Michael Huff, NFL Free Agency, Ozzie Newsome, Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis, Torrey Smith