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Best in Baltimore: Top 10 Ravens FA signings

Free agency is what makes sports great. No longer can team just stack up on the best young talent and keep them on their roster forever, free agency has given player choices and teams even bigger choices. Signing a free agent is no easy thing to do, somebody could be good for their previous team, warrant a big contract, and then be a bust on their new team because they didn’t fit the system. This weeks “Best in Baltimore” looks at the times the Ravens hit with their free agents, ranking the top ten best free agent signings in team history. Undrafted free agents are not counted in these rankings.

10. Trevor Pryce

Year Signed: 2006, Previous Team: Denver Broncos

After nine seasons and two Super Bowls rings with the Denver Broncos Trevor Pryce decided to move on with the team entering a rebuilding mode. Pryce choose Baltimore as his next stomping ground and immediately had one of the best years of his career. In 2006 the defensive end not only gave a big body in front of Terrell Suggs to let him roam around, but he ties his career-high with 13 sacks, to go along with a career-high 47 tackles. He also picked up two fumbles and deflected three passes. Age and injuries started to catch up to him after that season but he had a bit of resurgence in 2009 when he recorded 6.5 sacks with 31 tackles. In four seasons with the Ravens Pryce recorded 120 tackles and 26 sacks.

9. Qadry Ismail

Year Signed: 1999, Previous Team: New Orleans Saints

Qadry Ismail was used almost exclusively as a kick returner in his six years in the league before coming on with the Ravens but when Baltimore got him in 1999 they signed one of their top free agents for the next three seasons. Ismail only played three seasons with the Ravens but started 44 of 47 games and caught 191 passes for 2,819 yards and 18 touchdowns. In 1999 Ismail had a career-high 1,105 receiving yards to go with six touchdowns. Then, the year the team won the Super bowl he was responsible for five of the team’s touchdowns, and his final seasons with the Ravens he caught a career-high 74 passes for 1,059 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns.

8. Trent Dilfer

Year Signed: 2000, Previous Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If anybody would have told Ozzie Newsome that Trent Dilfer was going to be the team’s starting Quarterback in the Super Bowl he probably would have laughed you out of the room…or probably said “I hope so.” Either way, at the time this was not more than a signing to bring one a backup quarterback but after the team failed to produce on offense Dilfer got plugged in as the team’s starting quarterback. He lost his first game but never again and while he didn’t lead the team to the Super Bowl, he never did anything to cost them a game. In eight starts for the Ravens Dilfer completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 1,502 yards and 12 touchdowns. His record, including the post season, was 11-1.

7. Kelly Gregg

Year Signed: 2000, Previous Team: Philadelphia Eagles

The Ravens hit the jack pot when the Philadelphia Eagles cut Kelly Gregg before the 2000 season. The 1999 sixth round draft pick was thought to be too small, too weak, and too technically flawed to do anything in the NFL but the Ravens swooped in and signed him, gave him a year to develop on the practice squad, and after that he became one of the most underrated interior lineman of the decade. Gregg recorded 510 tackles for the Ravens in nine seasons for the Ravens, and for to the quarterback 19.5 times. Gregg was one of the most productive defensive tackles in terms of tackling from 2002 to 2009, topping 60 tackles six times in his career, hitting the 80 tackle mark twice.

6. Sam Adams

Year Signed: 2000, Previous Team: Seattle Seahawks

The final piece to what may have been the most dominant defense in the history of the NFL, Sam Adams was a very important part to the team’s Super Bowl XXXV victory. While he was only in Baltimore for two seasons, he teamed up with Tony Siragusa and nobody could get by the dup and up to the linebackers. He wasn’t much of a stat-gainer, only 41 tackles and 7 sacks in two years with the Ravens, but he did his job and did his job incredibly well. He was selected to the Pro Bowl both seasons he was with the Ravens.

5. Tony Siragusa

Year Signed: 1997, Previous Team: Indianapolis Colts

Tony Siragusa was an obscure football player for the seven seasons he was in Indianapolis but as soon as he signed with the Ravens he became a household name. “Goose” played five seasons with the Ravens and teamed up with Sam Adams to form a wall right up front that made the Ravens defense great. Between the two they took up most of the defensive line and forced the runners to bounce outside. Siragusa was a pure run stuffer, recording only 3.5 sacks in his career with the Ravens, but recorded 124 tackles.

4. Michael McCrary

Year Signed: 1997, Previous Team: Seattle Seahawks

After a huge season in Seattle where he recorded 13.5 sacks the Ravens went out and got McCrary to give the team an incredibly good pass rush. He did just that, recording 51 sacks in 62 games. He also recorded 297 tackles, forced four fumbles and recorded six. McCrary was a sack-machine in Baltimore and just had a knack for big plays. He was a huge part of that dominant defense the Ravens had in 2000 that led them to a Super Bowl.

3. Rod Woodson

Year Signed: 1998, Previous Team: San Francisco 49ers

While the Ravens had a lot of talent in the secondary it was an incredibly young good. In came Rod Woodson, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, with loads of experience, and plenty left in the tank. Woodson moved back to safety with the Ravens but still went to three-straight Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2001 and was a Second Team All-Pro selection. Woodson recorded 20 interceptions in four seasons with the Ravens to go along with 303 tackles and a Super Bowl ring.

2. Derrick Mason

Year Signed: 2005, Previous Team: Tennessee Titans

After seven seasons in Tennessee the Titans cut Derrick Mason to not only save them money, but because they thought he was headed toward the down swing in his career. The Ravens, desperate for some sort of receiving threat, signed Mason, and he proved he wasn’t anywhere near the end. In six seasons with the Ravens Mason became the franchise’ all-time leader in receptions with 471, and receiving yards, with 5,777 and also reeled in 79 touchdowns, more than he had in eight seasons with the Titans. Mason topped 1,000 yards four times with the Ravens and had at least five receiving touchdowns each of his final four seasons.

1. Shannon Sharpe

Year Signed: 2000, Previous Team: Denver Broncos

One of the greatest tight ends in the history of the National Football League was only in Baltimore for two seasons but was one of the big pieces of the team’s Super Bowl run. Overall the offense in 2000 was on the cusp of being horrible but Sharpe still had an incredibly productive season with 67 receptions for 810 yards and five touchdowns. But his shining moment that season came in the AFC Championship game. On a third-and-18 from the four-yard line Trent Dilfer made a short pass to Sharpe hoping to just clear room for his punter but Sharpe took it 96-yards for what is still the longest touchdown catch in NFL playoff history. The next seasons Sharpe was still a major target on the offense, recording 73 receptions for 811 yards and two touchdowns. As dominant as the team’s defense was, without Sharpe the Ravens may not have won Super Bowl XXXV.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.
One Response to “Best in Baltimore: Top 10 Ravens FA signings”
  1. Bobby says:

    Mason is too high on this list…

    Other players helped to win a Super Bowl, while Mason did little more than make our passing attack slightly less laughable.