Michael Pierce’s identify could possibly not spring to thoughts the minute Baltimore Ravens supporters start to look at the dominant figures from the NFL’s leading-ranked protection.
Safety Eric Weddle, defensive tackle Brandon Williams and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley represented the Ravens in the Pro Bowl last thirty day period. Regional media voted cornerback Marlon Humphrey as the team’s 2018 MVP. And then there’s Terrell Suggs, the 36-calendar year-previous move-rusher with a compelling Corridor of Fame resume and the style of swagger that leads to younger gamers to elevate their heads every time he enters the locker room.
Pierce hasn’t piled up individuals style of accolades or garnered as significantly attention as some teammates. But scroll by way of Pro Soccer Focus’ Twitter feed this 7 days and you could possibly appear away believing the 3rd-calendar year defensive tackle was at the coronary heart of Baltimore’s results in 2018.
PFF, a outstanding outlet which scouts and grades gamers, rated Pierce as the Ravens’ ideal defensive player.
Over and above that, Pierce graded out as the site’s leading inside defensive lineman in the AFC North, beating out multi-time Pro Bowlers Cam Heyward and Geno Atkins for the honor.
Pierce, who went undrafted in 2016 and is in line to enter limited free of charge agency in March, retweeted equally of the earlier mentioned posts Tuesday. It is worthy of wondering no matter if the Ravens — and other teams across the NFL— took recognize, far too.
The superior marks do not indicate the Ravens will need to check out Pierce as some style of savior packed into a 330-pound body. PFF’s grading process is imperfect, and when debating Pierce’s value, it’s crucial to note he performed about 38 per cent of Baltimore’s defensive snaps in 2018.
Gamers like Mosley and Weddle who usually remain on the field for each snap can have a much larger affect on game titles.
Even with all that, there’s no concern Pierce performed a sizeable purpose in the Ravens’ AFC North title operate, and the team simply cannot ignore this 26-calendar year-previous out of Samford as it ponders revamping an ageing protection.
The Ravens practically unquestionably will put a superior-round tender on Pierce and match any provide he receives in free of charge agency. They’ll have each chance to maintain him on the roster in 2019 at a deal fee.
It is what happens over and above following period that first-calendar year common supervisor Eric DeCosta needs to consider about. Pierce can negotiate a extended-time period contract with the Ravens for the first time this offseason or he also could wait around and program to check his luck in unrestricted free of charge agency in March 2020.
Williams, who turns 30 this thirty day period, is signed by way of the 2021 period, but Baltimore could launch him to get sizeable aid beneath the wage cap a calendar year before. If the Ravens ink Pierce to a extended-time period contract, they’d be in a position to framework his offer so that the brunt of the cap hit comes following Williams’ make contact with is off the textbooks.
And sure, the Ravens will not count on Pro Soccer Concentrate grades to make this choice, but Pierce appears to be to have aid in just the Below Armour Overall performance Center.
“I indicate, I do not know what PFF and all the other web pages [say] I do not have a opportunity to browse all that,” defensive coordinator Don Martindale explained in October. “Michael Pierce and ‘Big Baby’ [Brandon Williams] performed their butts off, and they have. They’ve been actively playing very well for a awesome 3-, four-7 days operate.”
Even though it can be hard to evaluate an inside lineman’s functionality by way of data, there’s evidence that Pierce elevated the Ravens’ protection. Immediately after the team totaled a franchise-history 11 sacks in a 21- victory over the Titans in October, a number of gamers credited the inside force from Pierce as a factor that allowed edge rushers to pummel quarterback Marcus Mariota.
“Pierce is just a monster inside with the operate and move,” Weddle explained at the time. “He adds a good deal to the move hurry, far too. It really is just awesome to have revolving bodies on the defensive line. I indicate, they torched their offensive line these days.”
The Ravens will tread flippantly when negotiating any contract with an inside defensive lineman following they absorbed criticism for shelling out $52.5 million over 5 years to Williams. But the protection needs new, younger linchpins with Weddle and Suggs nearing the stop of their careers.
Pierce wasn’t 1 of the most noticeable faces of Baltimore’s D in 2018. Even so, he might’ve performed very well ample to carve a route towards that difference in the future.