It's official - again. Bart Scott has left the Baltimore Ravens and will sign with the New York Jets, a six year contract worth approximately $48M. But, this day has been a good one for the Baltimore Ravens, overall. Ray Lewis, who has been involved in rumors the past month, talked to Rod Woodson of NFL Network and claimed it was never his "dream" to play for the Cowboys and would welcome a return to Baltimore. The Ravens also filled a hole at corner, by signing 25-year old Domonique Foxworth (#24, pictured) to a four year deal worth $28M. Despite the signing, the Ravens still have $16.4M left in cap room.
My message to Bart Scott: your loss. In my opinion and I'm sure most would agree, Bart Scott is a product of our system. He's a product of playing under Ray Lewis. He's a product of playing defense for the Baltimore Ravens. You think I'm lying? Let's take a look at three examples. Adalius Thomas. In 2006 with the Ravens, Thomas had 83 tackles and 11 sacks. He tested free agency in 2007 and signed a deal with New England. In 2007 and 2008, he hasn't had a very big impact and has a combined 11.5 sacks in two seasons. Another example is Edgerton Hartwell. From 2002 to 2004, Ed was dominant for the Ravens, totaling tackle amounts of 144, 94 and 95. In 2005, he signed with Atlanta. In two seasons for Atlanta, he totaled 46 tackles and one sack. Another example is cornerback Gary Baxter. In 2004, Baxter had a great year for Baltimore, with 72 tackles, two interceptions and one sack. The next year, he was playing for the Cleveland Browns and in his two seasons there, he totaled 35 tackles and three interceptions. He is no longer in the NFL. The next example? Bart Scott.
Foxworth, acquired today, played very well last year, but is finally playing in a comfortable position. From 2005 to 2007, he was constantly being compared to teammate Champ Bailey, who Foxworth called "one of the best ever at this position" and in Atlanta, he played safety. In Baltimore, he will take over for Chris McAlister, who was released earlier in the offseason. Coach Jon Harbaugh was excited to have Foxworth, saying:
"He's a top-flight corner and a top-flight corner in the Ravens mold," coach Harbaugh said. Last year, Foxworth had 38 tackles and one interception for Atlanta and the former 3rd round pick will be coming home. A University of Maryland alum, Foxworth has "dreamed of playing here..."
Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is a defense-based executive. While he has put together a dangerous offense that includes Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year Joe Flacco, Newsome stresses defense. He wants them to get younger. And that he is doing. The Scott departure could make the Ravens run a 4-3 defense with Justin Bannan, Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce and Kelly Gregg on the line and Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson and Ray Lewis at linebacker. Notice I did put Ray Leiws in the mix. By Monday, Ray Lewis could be re-signed to a contract with Baltimore for about three years. At corner, the Ravens would have Fabian Washington, who was good in coverage but just needs to improve his tackling and now Foxworth, who has good coverage and the Ravens got because he is willing to tackle. At safety, the Ravens would have Ed Reed, who could be the greatest safety of all time and Dawan Landry, unless the Ravens decide to use the money left over to re-sign Jim Leonhard, which is unlikely.
Since Foxworth was signed by Baltimore, it's unlikely the Ravens will draft a cornerback in the first round. It's looking like they will either draft a wide receiver or tight end, possibly Darrius Heyward-Bey, Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks or Brandon Pettigrew. The Ravens would improve their deep passing game that way and despite Bart Scott has left the building, the Ravens have addressed a need - corner. And they addressed it with their cornerback of the future, Domonique Foxworth. Now, the Ravens don't really have a pressing need throughout the offseason, and they have an opportunity to thrust four lineman into play - which would certainly confuse some teams. When the Ravens have good corner play, they have won. Last year, the reason the Ravens couldn't finish with a better record was bad corner play in inconvenient times.
See, Ravens fans? It's all coming into play. The team is going to draft a center in the 3rd round, a tight end and wide receiver in the first two and possibly a corner in the 4th for depth. This is Ozzie Newsome we're dealing with! He knows what he's doing, and he proved it today. He played it smart. No bidding wars, no drama. Scott is simply a product of our system and Ozzie Newsome is simply a football genius. He's proved it. He'll continue to do so. Let me point something out.
The Scott departure and likely Rolle release will clear a lot of money in cap. The Ravens had a 4 year/$42M deal on the table for Scott, which would give him $10.5M per year, which would leave the Ravens only $11.5M in cap room. And now when you factor in the Foxworth signing, the Ravens have approximately $16.4M in cap room - more than enough to re-sign Lewis and possibly Leonhard, whom Ravens fans love. It has been said Ray Lewis wants a deal for $10M a year. Now, they have more than enough to do that, sign Leonhard and gamble for a cheap free agent steal.
Ravens fans are doubting Ozzie. They must not have been around the last 13 seasons when the Ravens drafted countless starters, Pro Bowlers and possibly Hall of Famers. The Wizard of Oz knows exactly what he's doing. The Ravens have the cap room to retain Ray Lewis for the rest of his NFL career and have the money to retain Jim Leonhard, while they don't especially need him. If the Ravens choose not to re-sign Leonhard, the Ravens will have about $6M for free agency or re-signing Terrell Suggs.
Rex Ryan and the Jets again proved they are original at signing free agents when Ryan signed another of his former players, incompetent corner Corey Ivy. First off, let me thank Ivy for all the great things he's done for us. OK I'm done. Ivy had 52 tackles and no interceptions last year for Baltimore as a third corner. The Ravens now get younger defensively, which the Ravens needed to do. Ravens fans, why would you doubt the Wizard of Oz? He knows exactly what he's doing!