After missing out on the Ezekiel Ansah sweepstakes last week, the Ravens decided to bring back an old friend to help bolster their pass rush in 2019. Dust off those #90 jerseys because Pernell McPhee will be back in Baltimore this season on a one-year deal.
The move makes a lot of sense for the Ravens, but if I’m being honest I would probably say that about any pass rusher they decided to bring in. The need at this position is just too high to be picky and the free agent market doesn’t give you much to pick from at this point.
But even with a dwindling market, why not go after the guy you already know? McPhee was drafted by the Ravens in 2011 and went on to produce 17 sacks and three forced fumbles over the course of his four years in Baltimore. He only started six games in that time but was also playing on the same defense with guys like Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Paul Kruger, and Courtney Upshaw. It’s not surprising that McPhee didn’t start more but he was always a reliable piece in the Dean Pees’ system.
Like many other defensive players drafted by Baltimore, McPhee put together a breakout season in the final year of his rookie contract. By notching career highs in sacks, tackles for loss, and pass deflections, McPhee easily played his way out of Baltimore and earned himself a nice payday from the Chicago Bears.
McPhee only played three years in Chicago and never posted more than six sacks despite being considered a starter for the first time in his career. In 2018 he signed a one-year deal with Washington but did not make much noise with just 11 tackles and no sacks.
A return to Baltimore could be just what McPhee needs to recapture the success of his early years. Of course Pees is no longer in control of the Ravens defense but Wink Martindale is not an unfamiliar face for the former Raven. One of the things I really liked about Martindale’s defense last year was his ability to get the most out of all of his players. The system he has put in place allows for a constant rotation of guys coming on and off the field after almost every play.
My hope is McPhee feels more comfortable going back to a system where he will not have the pressure of being a starter and can work on a limited amount of snaps. With that being said, the Ravens only have one proven pass rusher in Matt Judon. Jaylon Ferguson looks like the real deal based on his college numbers but there is no guarantee he will pick things up as quickly as the Ravens probably need him too. Perhaps McPhee could be leaned on more toward the beginning of the season depending on where Ferguson is in his development.
Either way, bringing in another player to bolster the pass rush was a necessity. We don’t know the details of the contract yet but McPhee got $1.8 million from Washington last year so I would expect something less than that.
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