Whether by design or to put the team on notice, the Baltimore Ravens made quite a statement today, parting ways with two free agents who were expected to contribute meaningful play time in 2013 as the team looked to rebuild the defensive side of the football.
Both Michael Huff and Marcus Spears received the pink slip as the duo disappointed big time on the defensive side of the ball. Huff received a three-year deal worth six million, but lost his starting safety spot almost immediately to upstart rookie Matt Elam.
Huff’s versatility was very appealing for the Ravens in the off-season and the hope was for him to man the safety position, fill the void of a departing Ed Reed and allow Elam time to ease into a role and eventually a starting spot. That never happened as Huff struggled almost immediately and even in a backup role, the Ravens have gotten nothing positive out of him.
The nail in the coffin was Huff’s inability to stay home on the 44-yard kickoff return and draw the returner more towards the sideline, setting up the Steelers game-winning field goal two weeks ago.
The move to cut Spears means the Ravens now expect big things out of mammoth rookie DT Brandon Williams, fourth-year tackle Terrence Cody who injured his left knee against the Houston Texans in Week 3 and second-year lineman DeAngelo Tyson.
Spears saw action in five games (starting one) and played just 142 snaps this season according to the Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel. He never quite got into a rhythm and that was due in large part to injuries to his knee.
For the Ravens, this is a sign of things to come.
If you’re not producing up to standards – Huff and Spears fall into that category – then changes will be made. Its just the business of the NFL where the Ravens desperately need production out of a defensive front struggling to stuff the run.
Huff will go down as a six million dollar bust and Spears signing, while cheap, included $600,000 in guaranteed money. Now the Ravens start fresh and shake up a struggling team overall.
There is no longer time to wait around for players to improve and show they’re ready to go in the eyes of coaches. The time is now. According to head coach John Harbaugh, he feels confident in the abilities of Williams and Tyson on the defensive line.
“Those guys are ready. Both of them are ready to play in a starting-type rotation. They’ve proven it already by the way they’ve played. We have no concerns about that at all. They’re going to play well.”
While the statement doesn’t divulge into much more than straight-on assessment from Harbaugh, Williams has been very effective in his limited time on the field this season. The third-round pick in this year’s draft has played in four games, recording a sack, a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.
Because the deadline has come and gone, both players will be subject to waivers. With their struggles, one wonders if any team will take a peek at them.