The Baltimore Ravens needed a nose tackle this offseason. Baltimore gets Michael Pierce, as he reunites with his old team and fits right in the middle of the defense.
With current free agents like Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, and Justin Ellis all testing their market at the moment; the Ravens needed to get another defensive lineman on the roster. Even if some of them re-sign, adding a veteran wouldn’t hurt, especially one that used to play for Baltimore.
The current notable defensive ends/tackles they have on the team include Derek Wolfe, Justin Madubuike, and Broderick Washington. All three are more defensive ends than tackles in a 3-4 scheme and are more finesse than power.
The veteran Wolfe was out all last year with injury and Madubuike showed flashes of disrupting the line of scrimmage while making plays in the backfield. More consistency, potential, and bodies, in general, are needed to beef up the run defense that led the league last year in the fewest amount of rushing yards given up.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Ravens bring back former defensive tackle Michael Pierce, as he will make around $5.5 mil per year. The deal is for three years and totals $16.5 million with $6.75 million guaranteed.
Pierce was undrafted back in 2016, out of Samford, and played out his first four years in Baltimore before leaving in free agency. The 29-year-old nose tackle signed with the Vikings but sat out 2020 due to COVID opt-outs.
Due to injuries, Pierce only played eight games for Minnesota but had 20 total tackles and three tackles for loss as well as three sacks. He was cut due to salary cap issues but will now be a starter for the Ravens once again.
The 6’0″ 340 lbs. mammoth gives the Ravens some serious bulk to their defensive line, as Pierce will go back to nose tackle right in the middle of the defense. With Baltimore, he started about half the games he played in his four-year career (30 out of 60 games) and amassed 151 total tackles (along with 3.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss).
The Pierce signing will essentially replace Brandon Williams and his role in the defense as a space-eater in the center of the defense. However, he does have some potential as a gap penetrator and gives the Ravens at least one power rusher that can create some havoc on the inside from time to time.
With Baltimore adding free safety Marcus Williams and offensive tackle Morgan Moses, they have crossed off a few major holes on the roster and have added a temporary starter or solid depth at least. This would give them as much flexibility in the NFL Draft to address whatever need best fits at the positions, as they can still upgrade on multiple spots on both sides of the ball.
This addition of Michael Pierce may push the need for defensive tackle back behind edge rusher now, as Baltimore has plenty of options with the 14th overall pick in the first round. At this point, any type of pass rusher is the priority for the defense and the Baltimore Ravens should address it early in the NFL Draft.