When the Baltimore Ravens hoisted the Lombardi trophy in New Orleans last month, one expected things to change in a drastic way for the linebacker corp of the team.
Ray Lewis had already announced his retirement and the foregone conclusion that #52 wouldn’t be around after 2012 was still attempting to settle into our systems.
Yesterday, Dannell Ellerbe became the second Ravens linebacker who won’t be wearing purple and black anymore, after he inked a five-year, $35 million dollar deal with the Miami Dolphins.
With uncertainty about Jameel McClain‘s health moving forward, the Ravens – at least according to some fans – seem to be in huge trouble because of the lost talent and experience of that unit.
But as Ozzie Newsome has shown time and time again, the Ravens lay dangerously in the weeds, stalking and waiting to make moves that fit the organization so they don’t miss a beat. The team has opportunities again this off-season with some players recently cut by their former teams.
Free agent linebacker Rey Maualuga is one example of a player the Ravens may snap up to fill a hole at MLB.
Maualuga, still only 26 years of age, could be a solid acquisition for Baltimore, having started 59 of 60 career games for the Cincinnati Bengals. He was a 2nd round pick out of USC and provided solid play for the Bengals as the team’s SAM linebacker (strongside LB) before being shifted to MIKE linebacker (weakside LB) before the 2011 season.
He struggled after making the switch as rookie Vontaze Burfict took over Maualuga’s position and excelled in 2012. Despite the change, Maualuga still finished with 122 total tackles last season.
The Ravens could come calling and move Maualuga back to a SAM backer, a position formerly held by a now departed Dannell Ellerbe. His price tag would be a cheaper alternative to Ellerbe, in addition to being proven to stay healthy throughout his young career. At 6’2″, 250, he provides good size at a linebacker position and has the quickness and agility to make tackles in open space.
There will be other suitors for Maualuga, but the Ravens appear to be one team laying in the weeds, waiting to strike.
Matt Lund is a contributor for BaltimoreSportsReport.com and co-host of the BSR Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @MattCLund.