BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens finally made their move during the NFL’s free agent frenzy, securing running back Mark Ingram and six-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas on Wednesday.
After losing receiver John Brown and linebackers C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’darius Smith earlier in the week, Ravens first-year general manager Eric DeCosta bounced back to address two glaring needs.
Ingram agreed to terms on a three-year contract and Thomas accepted a four-year deal. Both contracts are pending the passing of physicals.
In addition, the Ravens formally announced the trade of quarterback Joe Flacco to Denver for a fourth-round draft pick.
The 29-year-old Ingram scored 50 touchdowns during eight years with the New Orleans Saints. Arriving in Baltimore with 106 games of experience, including 64 starts, Ingram provides stability to a backfield that last year counted heavily on rookie Gus Edwards.
Ingram has 204 receptions over the past five seasons and should fit well into a controlled offence directed by quarterback Lamar Jackson.
A two-time 1,000-yard rusher, Ingram’s 4.7 yards per carry average over the past five seasons tops all NFL running backs. His 39 rushing touchdowns over that span ranks second behind Todd Gurley (46).
Thomas, 29, arrives after a nine-year run with Seattle. He is expected to replace free safety Eric Weddle, who played three seasons in Baltimore before being released last week.
Despite having his 2018 season end with a broken left leg, Thomas finished with three interceptions. No one on the Ravens had more than two last year.
While being carted off the field with a lower leg fracture in a Sept. 30 game against Arizona, Thomas extended his middle finger in the direction of the Seattle bench. He had skipped multiple practices earlier in the season after failing in his bid to get a new contract.
After breaking the same leg in 2016, Thomas openly pondered retirement.
On Wednesday, despite his rocky tenure with the Seahawks, Thomas wrote on Twitter : "Thank you Seattle for the love and memories that my family and I will never forget."
Thomas has 28 career interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and at least 88 tackles in four different seasons.
The addition of Thomas fills out a solid defensive backfield that currently features Thomas and Tony Jefferson in the back end; Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr as outside cornerbacks; and Tavon Young in the slot.
By signing Ingram and Thomas, the Ravens softened the blow of losing three members of the NFL’s No. 1 defence to free agency. Mosley went to the New York Jets, Suggs latched on with Arizona after a 16-year run with Baltimore and Smith agreed to terms with Green Bay.
Suggs had only seven sacks last year but is the Ravens’ career leader with 132 1/2.
"A Raven through and through. He’s tenacious, the best of what we want our defenders to be," DeCosta said. "Terrell is one of our all-time great Ravens."
The loss of Mosley will likely hurt more, but the Ravens couldn’t compete with the five-year, $85 million offer from the Jets.
"Four Pro Bowls in five years speaks for itself," coach John Harbaugh said of the middle linebacker. "C.J. is as reliable of a player as any defender we’ve had."