The Ravens lost another of their free agents on Friday as outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons, the team confirmed. Terms were not disclosed, but ESPN reported that it is a one-year deal.
Upshaw spent four seasons with the Ravens after the team made him their first pick in the 2012 draft, taken in the second round at No. 35 overall.
Known primarily as a physical, edge-setter against the run, Upshaw never missed a game in four years with the Ravens, making 51 starts. This past season he totaled 51 tackles and two sacks.
Upshaw, though, never evolved into the pass rushing force on the outside, totaling five sacks in four seasons. That became an issue this year after the Ravens lost Terrell Suggs in the season opener and struggled the rest of the year to compensate for the loss of Suggs' pass-rushing ability.
Upshaw had also visited the New York Jets as a free agent, and the longer Upshaw remained on the free agent market, the more likely his return to Baltimore looked. But re-signing the Alabama product was not a priority.
When asked at the NFL Combine about the possible return of Upshaw, general manager Ozzie Newsome said, “History will say we’ll get some signed and some will go to other clubs. When that happens, I wish them well.”
The Ravens are expected to return a healthy Suggs and Elvis Dumervil as their top pass rushers, but the loss of Upshaw does leave a void particularly on run defense. The Ravens do return second-year linebacker Za'Darius Smith and are expected to make outside linebacker a priority in the upcoming draft.
In four seasons, Upshaw totaled 183 tackles, five sacks, seven passes defensed and five fumble recoveries for the Ravens.
Offensive guard Kelechi Osemele, kicker Justin Tucker and Upshaw were considered the Ravens top players eligible to hit free agency. The Ravens lost Osemele to the Raiders, and Tucker received the franchise tag.