The Baltimore Ravens made a bold move today, signing free agent WR Donte’ Stallworth to what is reportedly a 1 year deal worth $900,000 with another $300,000 in incentives. (Numbers according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.)
Stallworth has played 7 seasons in the NFL (split between the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns) after being drafted in the 1st round (13th overall) out of Tennessee in 2002.
Stallworth was suspended for the entire 2009 season after pleading guilty to DUI and 2nd degree manslaughter stemming from an accident in Miami Beach last March. Stallworth served 24 days in jail and paid the family of Mario Reyes an undisclosed sum. He was reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell following Super Bowl XLIV, at which point he was released by the Browns.
He are thoughts from some inside the Ravens organization, courtesy of the team:
(Updated to include comments from Stallworth).
WR Donte’ Stallworth
“There was a time I felt the mistake I made was the end of the world for me. I’ve had trouble putting it into words. So, when teams started inviting me for workouts, and the Ravens called, I was excited. It means a lot that they would be willing to take a chance with me. I have a lot of people I am thankful for, and that now includes the Ravens. I can’t let any of these people down, including my family, Commissioner [Roger] Goodell and the Ravens.
“I will never get that morning back. It weighs on me every day and will for the rest of my life. What I can do is move forward, try to be a better person, try to convince others not to do what I did and warn others about the dangers of drinking and driving. I have to show otherwise that what happened doesn’t reflect who I am. I have to prove that, and, hopefully, I’m on my way to doing that.
“I know my apology will never be strong enough for some, but I’ve made changes, and I’m trying to be a positive influence. It’s an honor and privilege to play in the NFL, and I’m so thankful for this opportunity. I will make the best of it, and some people may listen to me because I will be playing. I hope I can do some good in delivering a message that could help someone or prevent someone from doing what I did.
“I know a number of the Ravens’ coaches – Coach Harbaugh, ‘Hoss’ [Jim Hostler], Coach [Dean] Pees from my time in New England… even Coach [Cam] Cameron, who recruited me during my last free agency. They know me. They stood up for me. They’ve shown faith. I can’t let them down.
“I’ve spent the last six months working hard with a trainer in case I got an opportunity to come back. I felt I had to work extra hard since I wasn’t with a team. I’m ready to try and help the Ravens.”
General Manager Ozzie Newsome:
“We’ve given a lot of thought to this and we’ve done extensive research into Donte’ beyond football. He made a huge mistake. There’s no doubt about that. He has paid a significant price for that and, as he has said, he carries a heavy weight. As Steve (Bisciotti) has said, we believe in second chances, and Donte’ does deserve that.
“But, we’ve signed him because we want to get better, and we think he has a chance to help us. We worked him out and it’s obvious he is working hard to be effective. We thought it was important to sign him now, because other teams were pursuing him and we want him in our offseason program, which starts next month.”
Head Coach John Harbaugh:
“Our goal is to become a better team, and we work on that every day. Adding Donte’ gives us the opportunity to improve. I observed him and interacted with him for a year when we were both in Philadelphia. He’s the kind of person and player who can help us. It’s clear that he is determined to play, that he has been working hard and that he wants to have an impact off the field, too. We’re looking forward to working with him.”
WR Coach Jim Hostler
“Donte’ has talent and ability. That’s why he was a high first round choice. He’s a player with the type of potential to make defenses pay attention to him. He was very productive as a rookie when he played 13 games. I know what kind of person he is and I respect him. We all know the tragic mistake he made, but I believe he has grown from that, and we’re looking forward to seeing him grow more. His second chance can be good for the Ravens. We plan to get the best out of him, and I’m confident he will give us his best.”
More on this story as it devlops here at WNST.net and via Twitter (@WNST).
I reached out to Ravens TE LJ Smith, who was teammates with Stallworth in Philly. He had great things to say about his former teammate, who he spent time with in Miami away from the football field. He said to me about his former teammate:
“Good kid, good ballplayer. If anybody deserves a second chance, it’s him. I wish him nothing but the best.”
Also, former Ravens TE Darnell Dinkins (now a Super Bowl Champion with the Saints) was teammates with Stallworth in Cleveland, he told me today:
“He is an amazing teammate and man…he will bounce back very well.”
Just to add a couple notes from earlier today, Stallworth is 6’0″ and 200 pounds; so he doesn’t address the Ravens’ need for a big receiver.
Here are his career stats, courtesy of the AP:
|2007||New England Patriots||16||9||46||697||15.2||69T||3||1||12||12.0||12||0||–||–|
|2005||New Orleans Saints||16||13||70||945||13.5||43||7||2||2||1.0||3||0||1||1|
|2004||New Orleans Saints||16||10||58||767||13.2||45||5||6||37||6.2||26||0||–||–|
|2003||New Orleans Saints||11||3||25||485||19.4||76T||3||1||3||3.0||3||0||3||1|
|2002||New Orleans Saints||13||7||42||594||14.1||57T||8||2||2||1.0||4||0||–||–|
A couple of Ravens players took to Twitter to welcome their new teammate today.
In 2007, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Stallworth was in the NFL’s Substance Abuse Program. Players can enter the substance abuse program voluntarily, via a failed test, or via a substance-related arrest. I’ve reached out to multiple sources near Stallworth, and I have not found out anything more about this situation.
Former Stallworth teammate in New Orleans and former Ravens OT Spencer Folau will join Rex Snider & Ray Bachman this afternoon on AM1570 WNST.