OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens took a step toward replacing the giant shoes left behind by future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed by agreeing to a three-year deal with veteran safety Michael Huff on Thursday.
The agreement was announced by general manager Ozzie Newsome and is pending a physical. The deal is worth a total of $6 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The 30-year-old Huff had spent his entire career with the Oakland Raiders after being selected as the seventh overall pick of the 2006 draft. He was released by Oakland prior to the start of free agency on March 12 after reportedly balking at the idea of a pay cut and had visited the Dallas Cowboys earlier this week.
Having missed only four games in his seven-year career, Huff is expected to play free safety in the Baltimore secondary but is also capable of playing cornerback, a position he played last season as the Raiders dealt with a slew of injuries. In 16 starts in 2012 — 14 coming at cornerback — Huff collected 71 tackles, two interceptions, and 15 pass breakups.
The 6-foot, 211-pound defensive back has 11 interceptions, 453 tackles, and 57 pass breakups in his NFL career. Though he is not known for being particularly strong against the run, Huff will likely be an upgrade in that department as Reed struggled more and more against the run in recent seasons due to a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder. Huff isn’t considered a playmaker in the way Reed was viewed for so many years, but he is widely regarded as more than solid in pass coverage.
The Ravens made it a priority to add a veteran free safety as the only other options on the roster at that position included 2012 fourth-round pick Christian Thompson, former practice squad members Omar Brown and Anthony Levine, and Emanuel Cook, who missed the entire 2012 season with a broken leg. Veteran James Ihedigbo is expected to have the inside track for the strong safety job after he filled in admirably for an injured Bernard Pollard in making three starts last season.
Tracked carefully by the Ravens as they prepared for the 2006 draft before selecting defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in the first round, Huff starred at the University of Texas and became the first player in school history to win the Jim Thorpe Award, an honor bestowed upon the nation’s top defensive back.
Despite much hype after helping lead the Longhorns to the national championship, Huff never realized the potential many saw in him to become a star at the next level but has been a quality starter at the free safety position for most of his career.