The month of March traditionally has been a tough one for the Baltimore Ravens. It's also been an extremely flattering time.
The start of this offseason was been like so many others in recent years, when teams show how much they covet Ravens players by paying a premium price for them on the free agent market. Wide receiver Torrey Smith, pass rusher Pernell McPhee, tight end Owen Daniels, safety Darian Stewart and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor raked in a total of $43.4 million in guaranteed money over the first three weeks of free agency.
This is a major compliment to the Ravens' ability to cultivate talent because none of the three homegrown players were drafted in the first round: Smith (second round), McPhee (fifth round) and Taylor (sixth).
Smith and McPhee both landed contracts in the top 12 in terms of most guaranteed money given to free agents this year. Daniels, Stewart and Taylor all were among the top 10 in guaranteed money for free agents at their position this offseason.
These five players earned a combined $4.12 million in base salary last year with the Ravens. Two months after the season ended, they signed free-agent contracts that included bonuses in excess of $15.5 million. This doesn't even take into account the two-year, $5.5 million deal signed by returner Jacoby Jones, who was a salary-cap cut.
This has become a tradition for the Ravens, who have had six of their unrestricted free agents sign contracts with more than $10 million in guaranteed money over the past four offseasons: guard Ben Grubbs ($15.9 million guaranteed money from Saints), inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe ($14 million guaranteed from Dolphins), outside linebacker Paul Kruger ($13 million guaranteed from Browns), defensive lineman Arthur Jones ($16 million guaranteed from Colts), Torrey Smith ($22 million guaranteed from 49ers) and Pernell McPhee ($15 million guaranteed from Bears).
Here are the contract details for the four Ravens' unrestricted free agents who signed elsewhere this week:
WR Torrey Smith, 49ers: Five years, $40 million with $22 million guaranteed and an average of $8 million per year
LB-DE Pernell McPhee, Bears: Five years, $38.75 million with $15 million guaranteed and an average of $7.75 million per year
TE Owen Daniels, Broncos: Three years, $12.25 million with $3 million guaranteed and an average of $4.083 million per year
QB Tyrod Taylor, Bills: Two years, $7 million with $1.2 million guaranteed and an average of $3.5 million per year
S Darian Stewart, Broncos: Two years, $4.25 million with $2.25 million guaranteed and an average of $2.125 million per year