Veteran outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw became the latest Ravens free agent to depart as he agreed to a deal with Atlanta on Friday evening.
The 26-year-old visited with the Falcons on Thursday after previously meeting with the New York Jets and reportedly drawing interest from San Francisco and New England.
Head coach John Harbaugh suggested earlier this week that Upshaw was still on the radar of general manager Ozzie Newsome, but the Ravens never indicated that they were seriously interested in keeping him. Making 51 starts and having never missed a game in his four seasons, the 6-foot-2, 272-pound Upshaw served as a dependable edge-setting linebacker against the run, but he never developed into a serious pass-rushing threat and collected just five career sacks in Baltimore.
“If we can bring back our full team from last year, we would. But we just don’t know,” said Newsome when asked about Upshaw’s future at last month’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. “History will say we’ll get some signed and some will go to other clubs. When that happens, I wish them well.”
The Ravens have made it clear that they want to add an edge rusher or two this offseason, and second-year outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith is projected to fill Upshaw’s role on defense.
Depending on the value of the contract, Upshaw’s departure likely puts Baltimore in line to receive a compensatory pick in next year’s draft. The Ravens have signed unrestricted free agents Benjamin Watson and Eric Weddle while losing Upshaw, Kelechi Osemele, and Matt Schaub. Wide receiver Chris Givens also signed with Philadelphia, but his one-year, $840,000 is too small to qualify for the formula determining compensatory picks. The signing of veteran wideout Mike Wallace does not count toward the formula since he was cut by Minnesota earlier this month.
Selected with the 35th overall pick of the 2012 draft, Upshaw was the Ravens’ first selection in that draft. With Upshaw and Osemele finding free-agent homes elsewhere this month, no members of the 2012 draft class remain with the organization.
Upshaw was a starter in Super Bowl XLVII and forced a fumble early that ended a scoring threat early in the second quarter. He finishes his Baltimore career with 183 tackles, seven pass breakups, and three forced fumbles.