While losing starters virtually everywhere else on their defense, the Ravens continued to get stronger along the defensive line by agreeing to a two-year deal with defensive end Marcus Spears on Friday.
Multiple outlets are reporting the deal is worth a total of $3.5 million. The 30-year-old lineman was released by the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday after signing a five-year, $19.2 million contract in 2011.
As soon as Spears hit the market, the Ravens showed immediate interest as general manager Ozzie Newsome declared a need to improve the defensive line at the end of the season. Spears is the second defensive end to be signed by the Ravens this week after former New York Giant Chris Canty was signed to a three-year deal on Tuesday.
“Spears, like Canty, can play multiple positions along the line,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He brings a lot of snaps and big game experience to us. We like the way Marcus plays. He will fit in with the Ravens way of playing.”
Spears never lived up to his billing as a first-round pick of the 2005 draft but played eight seasons in Dallas, accumulating 226 tackles and 10 sacks. Last season, the former LSU standout collected 25 tackles and one sack in 15 games, one of which he started.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees now appears to have a surplus of defensive ends, which makes you wonder if defensive tackle Haloti Ngata might be moving to nose tackle, a position where he has plenty of experience. Canty and Spears appear to be more traditional defensive ends in a 3-4 base scheme — though the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Spears has occasionally played some nose tackle in the past — and would rotate with Arthur Jones, who received a second-round tender as a restricted free agent earlier this week. In that scenario, Pernell McPhee would continue to be used in mostly passing situations like he was in the postseason.
“The base of a good defense is to be good along the defensive line,” Newsome said. “We didn’t play to our standards last season, partly because of injury. With the expected better health of players like Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee and the additions of Marcus Spears and Chris Canty, we have a chance to improve.”
Given the Ravens’ lack of depth at the linebacker position and sudden surplus of defensive linemen, others have speculated that Baltimore should consider moving to a 4-3 defense, but the organization has given no indication such a change is coming.