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Ravens Sign Pass Rusher Pernell McPhee

May 16, 2019
The Ravens signed veteran pass rusher Pernell McPhee, whose career began in Baltimore, and also announced May 16 that they signed guard R.J. Prince, who was on the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice squad last year. 

McPhee's return, first reported by ESPN, would help compensate for the loss of Za'Darius Smith, who spent much of his four-year Ravens career in a role similar to McPhee's with the Ravens. McPhee returns to a team that lost its top two pass rushers from last season -- Smith and Terrell Suggs -- in free agency. The Ravens had previously met with veteran free-agent pass rusher Ziggy Ansah, but he signed with the Seattle Seahawks. 

McPhee's signing was made official by the team May 17.

McPhee, 30, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Ravens in 2011 and played four years in Baltimore before signing a five-year, $38.75 million free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears. He played three seasons for the Bears before being released as a cap casualty, then was with the Washington Redskins last season. 

A pass-rushing linebacker-defensive end hybrid who could play all over the defensive front, McPhee (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) totaled 92 tackles and 17 sacks in four seasons with the Ravens. He had six sacks as a rookie with the Ravens in 2011, then set career highs with 7.5 sacks and 26 quarterback hits in 2014.

The Ravens did not make an aggressive play to keep McPhee when he became a free agent, and he ended up signing his big deal with the Bears. But in Chicago, McPhee dealt with knee and shoulder injuries and missed 12 games throughout three seasons. He finished his Bears tenure with 75 tackles and 14 sacks. In 13 games with the Redskins last year, McPhee had 11 tackles, eight quarterback hits and no sacks.

McPhee's return could help a defense that is trying to replace Smith and Suggs, who led the Ravens last year with 8.5 and seven sacks, respectively. Smith signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Green Bay Packers, while Suggs, the Ravens' all-time leader in games played, signed with the Arizona Cardinals.  

Matthew Judon, who tied Suggs for second on the team with seven sacks, leads an otherwise unproven group that includes third-year linebackers Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams and rookie third-round pick Jaylon Ferguson.

Bowser and Williams saw limited duty last season and neither has lived up to his Day Two draft status in his first two seasons with the Ravens. 

The Ravens' defense, which ranked No. 1 in the league last year, lost five starters to free agency including Smith, Suggs, Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley, Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle and defensive end Brent Urban. They signed All-Pro safety Earl Thomas as their key offseason acquisition on defense.

Prince (6-foot-6, 311 pounds) comes to the Ravens after spending last season on the Steelers practice squad. He was originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina last year.

To make room on the 90-man roster, the Ravens have cut tight end Nick Keizer and guard Kofi Amichia, both of whom spent time on the practice squad last season. 

This was updated after the McPhee signing was made official.

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox