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Best of the best: The case for Jonathan Ogden


Best of the best: The case for Jonathan Ogden

The Ravens very first draft pick is still probably their very best, considering what could have been.

As the Ravens prepared to make their first-ever draft pick at No. 4 overall in the 1996 draft, owner Art Modell had his eyes on talented but troubled running back Lawrence Phillips. But Modell's 40-year-old vice president of player personnel, Ozzie Newsome, had a different target.

Newsome esablished what would become one of the central tenets of the Ravens team-building strategy -- take the best available player, regardless of need.

Although the Ravens needed a running back more than they needed an offensive lineman, Newsome had an offensive lineman on the top of his board.

So Newsome and the Ravens selected hulking Jonathan Ogden out of UCLA, and the rest is history.

Over the course of 12 seasons, all with the Ravens, Ogden developed into one of the finest tackles in NFL history. He was named to the Pro Bowl 11 straight times from 1997 to 2007. Only four offensive linemen ever have been named more often.

At 6-foot-9 and 345 pounds, Ogden was blessed with both size and remarkable athleticism. Time and again he stone-walled the opposing pass rush, and was a major force behind Jamal Lewis' 2,066-yard rushing season of 2003.

He started 176 games in his Ravens career, second in franchise history to Ray Lewis (227).

In short, he set the bar by which all other Ravens tackles will be measured.

Offensive tackles don't rack up the stats, but Ogden's place in Ravens history is indisputable. He was not only the franchise's first draft pick, but in 2013, he became its first home-grown Hall of Fame inductee.

"He’s part of the foundation of this franchise, part of the reason why we have two Super Bowl wins here," Newsome said at the time of Ogden's Hall of Fame induction. "If you’re taking a journey, the first steps are the most important steps you have to take, and taking Jonathan was our first step.”

RELATED: Best of the best: The case for Ed Reed

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?