The Baltimore Ravens needed to make a move with the injury to Terrell Suggs on Sunday and wasted no time in doing so as Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the team will sign veteran Jason Babin to a one-year deal.
The deal is reportedly for the veterans minimum and is expected to be finalized once the team officially places Suggs on injured reserve.
The Ravens opted to go with Jason Babin over Shaun Phillips, who both worked out for the team on Tuesday. Babin, 35, had two sacks for the New York Jets last season, but was one of the Jets final cuts for salary cap purposes. He has recorded 64.5 sacks over his 11-year career playing for seven teams: Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Jets prior to his arrival to Baltimore.
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The Texans first-round pick in 2004 was a needed veteran presence with Suggs sidelined for the season to alleviate some of the pressure off of Elvis Dumervil. Courtney Upshaw is more of an edge setter than pass rusher as he has not had a full sack in his last 28 regular-season games. Fourth-round pick Za’Darius Smith showed flashes of potential in the preseason, but was held out of the regular-season opener.
The Ravens are losing a key piece of the defense that no one player can replace in Suggs. Dean Pees is hopeful that a rotation of Babin, Upshaw and Smith can be enough of a difference at the outside linebacker position to account for the loss. Baltimore was second in the league last season with 49 sacks, with Suggs, Dumervil and current Chicago Bear Pernell McPhee accounting for 36.5 sacks of those sacks. Now that Suggs and McPhee are out, the Ravens are hopeful Babin can provide some kind of consistent pass rush. Just do not expect the Babin that earned Pro Bowl honors in 2010 and 2011, recording 30.5 sacks over those two seasons.
It will be interesting to see how much Babin plays this week in Oakland and over the course of the season. Babin has played in a 4-3 defense for the majority of his career so it is likely that he will take the field when the Ravens line up with four down linemen. He did learn the nuisances of the 3-4 defense from former Ravens defensive coordinator and current Buffalo Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan in his time with the Jets last season.
Babin is known for playing hard when he is out on the field and the Ravens are hopeful his tenacity rubs off on the youngsters on the roster. Baltimore is still loaded with talent along the interior defensive line, and they’re hopeful Babin is the answer as a pass rusher. If the pass rush fails to create significant pressure, the Ravens secondary could be exposed, much like it was last season.
The move is a win-win for all parties involved. Babin was looking for a new home and is now on a team that is capable of winning a championship, even without Suggs. The Ravens needed a veteran that plays hard and could get pressure on the quarterback.
Let’s hope this new marriage ends with plenty of quarterbacks on their backs and Babin getting his first career playoff berth in the NFL.
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