The Ravens are keeping wide receiver Mike Wallace, just as Head Coach John Harbaugh predicted.
This report was filtered through Ryan Mink’s brain:
Baltimore picked up the second-year option of the speedy veteran, keeping him under contract through next season.
Wallace signed a two-year deal with the Ravens last offseason, but there was a club option for 2017 that had to be picked up and reportedly counted for $8 million against the salary cap.
Wallace had a big first season with the Ravens, posting 72 catches for 1,017 yards and four touchdowns. It was a major rebound from the year before, when he posted 39 receptions for 473 yards and two scores with the Minnesota Vikings.
He became a trusted target for quarterback Joe Flacco on slants and other underneath routes, and brought his trademark big-play ability. Wallace scored a 95-yard touchdown to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, and had four other catches of over 50 yards.
Wallace is still just 30 years old and has plenty of good football ahead of him. He’ll now also finally have some consistency after bouncing between four different teams over the past five seasons (Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Vikings, Ravens).
Even with Wallace still in the fold, the Ravens are still expected to add another wide receiver to help offset the retirement of Steve Smith Sr. Former Ravens Torrey Smith was rumored to be a possibility, but he signed a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday.
Equally as significant, Baltimore has reached an agreement in principle with defensive tackle Brandon Williams on a five-year contract, the team announced Thursday evening.
The deal is reportedly worth $54 million with $27.5 million guaranteed, per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, making Williams the league’s highest-paid nose tackle.
The Ravens made it no secret how badly they wanted to keep Williams in purple and black, as Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said earlier this offseason that “we have to try to retain him” because “he’s an ‘A’ player for us.”
The 28-year-old defender has been one of Baltimore’s most consistent players over the last three seasons. He anchors the defensive line by taking on double teams to stuff the run, and Baltimore has given up the third-fewest rushing yards (93.8 per game) in the NFL since Williams became a starter in 2014.
Re-signing Williams allows the Ravens to keep one of their top young players in Baltimore. They originally selected him in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Missouri Southern State, and he is one of the best small-school prospects the Ravens have ever found.
Now we go to the other Ravens’ signings in the first flurry of Free Agency:
Baltimore has signed safety Tony Jefferson to a four-year deal, the club confirmed after free agency officially opened Thursday.
It’s a huge get for the Ravens, as Jefferson was one of the best free agents on the market and for sure the top safety.
The Ravens came into the offseason looking to dramatically improve their secondary, and this goes a long way in helping to do that. Jefferson was the sixth-highest graded safety in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus. Eric Weddle received the second-highest grade.
Jefferson, 25, is very strong against the run but also covers well. He excells at stopping the run and playing near the line of scrimmage, which would pair well with Weddle.
Jefferson hasn’t yet built a reputation on making splash plays (two career interceptions, six forced fumbles), but he is extremely well rounded. He is also strong in coverage.
The 5-foot-11 Oklahoma product went undrafted in 2013. Now entering his fifth year, he is still on the ascent. Last season was his first as a full-time starter and he racked up 96 tackles, two sacks, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
Then the Ravens retained backup quarterback Ryan Mallett on a one-year deal. Baltimore officially announced the move after free agency opened Thursday afternoon.
The Ravens wanted to keep Mallett, and with an aggressive quarterback market, they quickly pounced. Mallett, 28, brings steadiness and a known commodity behind starter Joe Flacco. Mallett has been with Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg for more than a year, so he knows the system well.
The strong-armed 6-foot-6 gunslinger filled in well for two games after Flacco went down with a torn ACL in 2015. Mallett impressively beat the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in his first game as a Raven.
Last season, Mallett saw very limited action (no starts, just six passing attempts), and the Ravens hope it continues that way with Flacco under center. However, if something were to happen to Flacco, Baltimore would know it’s in good hands with Mallett. The 2011 third-round pick of the New England Patriots has fit in well in Baltimore after a stopover with the Houston Texans. He has eight career starts under his belt.
Then there’s this—the Ravens have signed running back Danny Woodhead to a three-year deal. Adding Woodhead would bring another element to Baltimore’s offense, which is especially helpful after the departure of Swiss Army knife fullback Kyle Juszczyk and four-game suspension ofKenneth Dixon.
Woodhead, 32, missed nearly all of last season after tearing his ACL in Week 2, but is reportedly fully healthy and ready to go in 2017.
When he was healthy in 2015, Woodhead posted 98 carries for 336 yards and three touchdowns, and 80 receptions for 755 yards and six scores.
The 5-foot-8, 200-pound jack-of-all-trades has 503 career rushing attempts for 2,182 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. He’s caught 267 passes for 2,498 yards and 17 scores.
Woodhead has consistently been a matchup problem for defenses during his time with the New England Patriots (2010-2012) and San Diego Chargers (2013-2016). He played with Ravens safety Eric Weddle in San Diego, and the pair were well-known workout warriors together.
The Ravens already have a solid duo of running backs with Terrance West and Dixon (sans suspension), but Woodhead is in a different mold than both, and would bring a different wrinkle to what Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can do.