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Brandon Williams accepts Damon Harrison's 'best NFL nose tackle' challenge

Nose tackle Brandon Williams got a five-year, $52.5 million deal to return to the Ravens. Nick Wass/AP

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- News broke at 8:40 p.m. Thursday that the Baltimore Ravens made Brandon Williams the NFL's highest-paid nose tackle.

Just 35 minutes later, the New York GiantsDamon Harrison tweeted to Williams that he didn't like dropping to No. 2.

As many NFL lineman can attest, Williams isn't one to get pushed around.

"I got to prove my worth," Williams said Monday after signing his five-year, $52.5 million contract. "I'm ready to do that."

While Harrison doesn't believe Williams is the best, the Ravens certainly do, especially the person at the top.

Early Thursday evening, owner Steve Bisciotti told general manager Ozzie Newsome: "Do what you have to do to get the deal done." By that night, Williams agreed to a deal that included $27.5 million in guaranteed money, which surpassed Harrison by $3.5 million.

After the deal was struck, Williams had to hold back tears when talking to an elated Newsome.

"It felt good to have your GM call you on the phone and hear him burst into excitement," Williams said.

Keeping Williams was not only critical for the defense but for the organization as a whole. The Ravens had lost so much young talent in free agency over the years from guard Kelechi Osemele to Pernell McPhee to Torrey Smith. This offseason, Baltimore watched offensive tackle Rick Wagner and fullback Kyle Juszczyk sign elsewhere.

The Ravens clearly weren't going to let go of Williams. Only quarterback Joe Flacco received more guaranteed money from the Ravens over the last three years.

"This is a really good investment for us because of the kind of player he's been and also the kind of player he's going to be," coach John Harbaugh said. "Here is a man that does nothing but work as he can hard as he can work and go out there and attempt to dominate every single play. That's his goal."

Heading into free agency, Williams said it was "up in the air" whether he would return. But his preference was to come back to Baltimore.

In fact, Williams never cleaned out his locker after the season. A black suit from the cleaners still hangs in there.

"I figured I try to leave hints," Williams said. "When it got down to it, I couldn't see myself in any other color but purple and black."

Upon hearing that, Newsome jokingly said, "I wish I knew all of that before the deal. Now, I'm going to start checking lockers."

Williams has come a long way, from a third-round pick out of Division II Missouri Southern State to one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. Harbaugh recalled watching grainy film of Williams and seeing a potential NFL star.

The Ravens know when they see an impact defensive tackle. Baltimore has had some of the best ones over the last two decades in Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa, Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata.

"I think [Williams] is right up there with all of them," Newsome said.

The Ravens still have plenty of work to do in free agency. Baltimore's needs include cornerback, wide receiver, right tackle, inside linebacker and pass rusher.

But it's easier to move forward knowing Williams will be disrupting offenses in the middle of the line.

"It's a big piece that's filled -- literally and figuratively -- and really the main piece for our defense," Harbaugh said.