This past weekend I was deep in a Youtube binge and found myself watching old Baltimore Ravens’ highlights along with their season of HBO’s Hard Knocks. Feeling all nostalgic, I decided to start a new weekly “Top Five” series helping newer fans learn about the Ravens’ short but illustrious history. To start things off, I thought it would be a good idea to list the top players the Ravens let go, whether it was by trade or free agency. These lists will be my opinions, so if you do not agree, feel free to debate.
5.) Bart Scott 2002-2008
Bart Scott played Linebacker for the Ravens from 2002-2008 and left to join the New York Jets in Rex Ryan’s first year as head coach. A 2006 Pro Bowler, Scott had three interceptions, four forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, and 16 sacks during his seven year stint in Baltimore. Being overshadowed by other linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Adalius Thomas, Scott’s defining moment as a Raven has to be during the 2007 primetime matchup against the New England Patriots, where Scott got so upset over a penalty, he took the referee’s flag and threw it up into the stands. Although he only played four more seasons after leaving the Ravens, having him lined up with Lewis and Suggs during the playoffs would have put extra fear in quarterbacks’ eyes.
4.) Adalius Thomas 2000-2006
Also a linebacker, Adalius Thomas played with Baltimore from 2000-2006 before leaving to join the Patriots on a monster five year deal. Thomas was a sixth round draft pick in the 2000 draft and was a part of the greatest defense in NFL history his rookie year, winning Super Bowl 35. Although Thomas played only three seasons after leaving Baltimore, he was a big piece in helping the Ravens have the top defense in 2006. During his career in Baltimore, Thomas had six interceptions (two for touchdowns), 13 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries (three for touchdowns), 38.5 sacks, and one safety. a two time Pro Bowler and 2006 first team all pro, Thomas was the best player to play opposite Terrell Suggs. It would have been hard to keep both Thomas and Scott, considering the big pay days they got and that they played the same position, it was a shame the Ravens could not keep either one. One the brightside, the Ravens are an outside linebacker factory, so their departures did not affect the team as much.
3.) Todd Heap 2001-2010
Arguably the most beloved player to wear the purple and black, Todd Heap played for the Ravens from 2001-2010 before being released and signing with the Arizona Cardinals. Heap is second in team history in career receiving yards and is first in receiving touchdowns. Even though he was injury prone, missing at least three games in four of his 10 seasons in Baltimore, he is one of the few people that deserved to play their whole career for one team. Often overshadowed by Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, Heap was one of the most reliable targets in the game, being every Ravens quarterback’s safety net. This choice is more sentimental than statistical, as he was and still is my favorite player to ever play the game.
2.) Priest Holmes 1997-2000
Yes, many newer Ravens fans might not have known, but Kansas City Chiefs’ legend, Priest Holmes started his career as a Raven. Holmes signed with the Chiefs in 2001 after being pushed out of Baltimore by rookie stud Jamal Lewis. I, among many fans understand why Holmes left, but losing him the year Lewis tore his ACL in training camp really sucked. If Holmes stayed in Baltimore during that 2001 season, it is very likely the Ravens would have won back to back Super Bowls. Instead, the Ravens brought in Terry Allen, a 33 year old journeyman. I have Holmes at number two simply because of the “what if” factor. The 2001 team was essentially the same roster as 2000, where the Ravens blew out the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, with the biggest changes were the quarterback and running back. Who knows, if Holmes stayed, the New England Patriots dynasty might have never happened.
1.) Anquan Boldin 2010-2012
Easily the number one player the Ravens should have never gotten rid of, Boldin was Joe Flacco’s number one receiver and was a major factor in the 2012 Super Bowl run. After the Super Bowl, Boldin was traded to San Francisco for a sixth round draft pick. Many think this trade was so the Ravens had enough cap space to sign Flacco long term. Trading Boldin is often regarded as the worst move the franchise has done. Yes he was 33 when he was traded, but he was the type of receiver Flacco needed. Boldin was the type of receiver that would do whatever it takes to beat his opponent and win those 50/50 balls. Yes, if the Ravens still had Boldin, Steve Smith Sr. would most likely not have signed with them, but my biggest complaint is that the 49ers essentially stole Boldin. Yes, that sixth round pick the Ravens got turned into Ryan Jensen who’s playing lights out this season, but Boldin was easily worth a third or fourth round pick.
Ed Reed, Jermaine Lewis, Jarrett Johnson