Pretty wild when a team loses its HOF free safety and Pro Bowl strong safety in the same year…but somehow the Ravens will have to carry on.
Safety Bernard Pollard agreed to a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.
Pollard was a big part of the Super Bowl-winning team but was released this month. He told ESPN's Josina Anderson earlier Thursday that he had agreed to a contract and the team announced the move later in the day.
Asked if it was difficult to leave Baltimore, Pollard told ESPN: "Oh wow, I can't say enough about Baltimore. They were great to me and my family. I will cherish that experience and the relationships I built with the people there for the rest of my life."
He is the second former Ravens safety to make a move to the AFC South, along with Ed Reed, who agreed to a deal with the Houston Texans on Wednesday, according to a source.
The 28-year-old Pollard signed a three-year extension with Baltimore last season, but his release saved the Ravens an estimated $1 million against the salary cap.
Pollard played two years with Baltimore. Last season, he had 71 tackles and an interception despite playing much of the year with six broken ribs.
He forced a key fumble in the AFC Championship Game in New England when he delivered a vicious hit on New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley.
"Pollard is big, physical, experienced safety. He was a key contributor for the Super Bowl winners last year and his physicality and experience will help us," Titans general manager Ruston Webster said in a statement. "Adding him and George Wilson to our safety group gives us options moving forward and greatly improves our depth there."
Hensley on Pollard
While many have focused on the Ravens' loss of leadership, they have also parted ways with players who have defined their toughness, Jamison Hensley writes. Blog
I get the legacy of Reed and Pollard. A lot is lost in the leadership category with their departrure. ButHensley is right– the "team toughness" quotient is affected, too.
Bernard Pollard is known for big hits. In fact, over the last six seasons only Roman Harper has more tackles among safeties. Furthermore, the 28-year-old also ranks fourth in sacks and fumbles forced over that period.
Truth is, Pollard's coverage skills are somewhat on the decline. And Reed's ability to tackle and hit hard are compromised now by the nagging nerve injuries that plague him.
But man, did these two guys combine for a great 1-2 combination at the safety position. They''ll be hard to replace–but not impossible.
The Ravens now could go after safety Michael Huff from the Oakland Raiders as well as free agent Charles Woodson from the Packers. Both players can be solid additions, although Woodson was injured last season. Huff was cut in a salary cap move by the Raiders. And safety will be a target position in the upcoming Draft.
Reed earned $7.2 million last season and the Texans are hoping he can replace safety Glover Quin, who signed with the Lions. The team also lost James Casey and Connor Barwin and were looking to upgrade the secondary.
Reed signed with the Texans for a 3-year, $15 million deal, with $7 million guaranteed. Reportedly the Ravens had offered him a 2-year deal at $10 million, with only $5 million guaranteed.
Reed has been one of the best defensive players in the NFL in his career with the Ravens and he has made the Pro Bowl nine times. He has played 11 years in Baltimore and has 61 career interceptions, the most in team history. He is a prolific player when it comes to statistics, scoring 14 touchdowns and according to ESPN.com, "he is the only player in NFL history to score on a punt return, a blocked punt, an interception and a fumble recovery."
Pollard's deal with the Titans is for 1 year at $5 million, all of it guaranteed. In order to stay with the Ravens, Pollard would have had to renegotiate his previous contract and accept a pay cut.
Not impossible to replace these guys–but it will be a great challenge.