Ravens to sign S Thomas, RB Ingram

Former Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas intends to sign a four-year, $55 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The source said the deal includes $32 million fully guaranteed at signing, with $22 million coming in the first nine months.

Former Saints RB Mark Ingram also intends to sign a three-year, $15 million deal with the Ravens, a source told ESPN’s Schefter and Dianna Russini.

Thomas appeared to reference the deal with a tweet Wednesday that included the money-bag emoji.

Ingram was likely to leave New Orleans following Latavius Murray’s reported plan to sign with the Saints.

Thomas’ 2018 season ended in Week 4 when he broke his left leg — the same leg he broke in December 2016 — while defending a pass in the end zone against the Arizona Cardinals. He had surgery a few days later.

Thomas, who turns 30 in May, made six Pro Bowls in his nine seasons with the Seahawks and was named first-team All-Pro three times. His 28 career interceptions rank third among all players since 2010, when he was drafted with the 14th overall pick out of Texas. His 107 consecutive starts from 2010-2016 are the second most in franchise history.

The Seahawks will host the Ravens in a game in 2019 so Thomas will return to CenturyLink Field next season.

The arrival of Thomas gives the Ravens their best ballhawk since soon-to-be Hall of Famer Ed Reed left after the 2012 Super Bowl season.

Baltimore’s first major signing in free agency will fill the void left by Eric Weddle, who was cut last week. It’s also a big step toward rebuilding last season’s NFL’s top-ranked defense, which lost linebackers C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in the first two days of free agency.

The Ravens got their targeted running back in Ingram. A source said Baltimore was never involved in negotiations with Le’Veon Bell and had its sights on the Saints free agent.

This move will be characterized as a letdown by many after Baltimore didn’t land Bell, but Ingram has been an efficient runner, a big-time producer in the red zone and a valuable leader. He is the type of durable and physical back who fits perfectly in the Ravens’ running back by committee system.

Ingram ends Baltimore’s patchwork at running back over the past four years — from Justin Forsett to Terrance West to Alex Collins to Gus Edwards — and comes at a more moderate price than Bell, which allows the Ravens to address other needs as they build a supporting cast around Lamar Jackson.

Veteran running backs have often thrived under new Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Frank Gore and Le’Sean McCoy enjoyed some of their best seasons with Roman as the play-caller.

Thomas has drawn comparisons to Reed throughout his career because of his great range. His ability to cover lots of ground should allow safety Tony Jefferson to play closer to the line of scrimmage.

Despite his stellar resume — Thomas is a shoo-in for the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor when his playing days are over — his departure this offseason was considered a given with all the tumultuous past 15 months.

After a Christmas Eve win over Dallas in 2017, Thomas tracked down Jason Garrett and told the Cowboys coach to “come get me” if he were to become available. Thomas then missed the 2018 offseason program and training camp in protest of his contract situation, twice making public pleas for the Seahawks to either extend him or trade him as he entered the final year of a four-year, $40 million deal.

He returned from his holdout just before Seattle’s season opener. After two interceptions in a Week 3 win over the Cowboys, Thomas told reporters that his absences in practice that week were tied to his displeasure over his contract, saying he needed to protect himself and that he’d be practicing if the Seahawks were invested in him like he was invested in himself.

As he was being taken off the field on a cart after breaking his leg the next week, television cameras showed Thomas extending his middle finger toward Seattle’s sideline. It would be the last image of him in a Seahawks uniform.

Ingram turns 30 in December, which can be a taboo number for a running back. But the two-time Pro Bowler, former first-round draft pick and former Heisman trophy winner has played some of his best football over the past three seasons.

Plus, his mileage has been somewhat tempered by spending much of his eight-year career with the New Orleans Saints in timeshares — including his historic pairing with Alvin Kamara over the past two seasons.

In 2017, they became the first duo to each surpass 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same backfield, when Ingram ran for career highs of 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. Last season, Ingram became more of a No. 2 back after returning from a four-game suspension to start the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He finished with 645 rushing yards, 170 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 12 games.

Ingram also is well respected off the field, as he was the Saints’ 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.

Due to the Saints’ crowded backfield as well as a series of nagging injuries, Ingram’s career got off to a slow start in New Orleans after being selected with the 28th overall pick in 2011. But it really started to take off when he became the lead back in 2014 and was able to show off his versatility as both a runner and pass catcher.

Ingram broke Deuce McAllister’s franchise record with his 50th rushing touchdown late last season, and his 6,0007 career rushing yards are less than 100 yards shy of another franchise record. He also has 1,598 career receiving yards and five TD catches.

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, Brady Henderson and Mike Triplett contributed to this report.

Source link