When he agreed to a three-year, $6 million deal with the Ravens, one of the first things Michael Huff did was text Ed Reed.
But at the same time, he doesn’t need to spend too much time trying to be Ed Reed.
“It means a lot,” Huff said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “He’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest free safety to ever play the game. I just told him that I’ll carry on his legacy, carry on the tradition of great safeties in Baltimore. I’m definitely going to go out there and hold up my end.
“For me to come in here, I don’t really feel like I’m following his footsteps. I’m more kind of starting my own legacy and going in here to help the defense and help us win.”
There are two important reasons not to invite comparisons. One, Reed’s a former NFL defensive player of the year who’s likely to end up in the Hall of Fame when he’s finished.
But as importantly, Reed wasn’t Reed any more on the field last season, which is why they were willing to let him go become a Texan.
The Ravens weren’t going to get into a bidding war for a guy who’s turning 35 this season, allowing Houston to pay him a three-year, $15 million deal for intangibles.
So they found a player who is nearly five years younger, $9 million cheaper, and for the moment, perhaps a better fit.
Huff’s in Baltimore to play safety, but was forced into playing corner last year in Oakland. While he’s not someone you want on an island playing coverage, he can still cover ground, and that’s something the Ravens need in the middle of their new defense.
“He’s just a tremendous player, a tremendous guy,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He fits us really well both football-wise and technique-wise, the type of person he is, the type of family man he is.
“He’s going to enable us to keep doing the things on defense that we have been doing and even build on those things. He has done it all because he’s smart, he’s tough and he knows how to play the game.”
So while the Ravens might not have the same kind of name recognition they once had on defense, they might be better. For roughly the same $41 million the Browns spent to lure outside linebacker Paul Kruger away, the Ravens have restocked by signing pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil, lineman Chris Canty and Marcus Spears and Huff, which gives them a better opportunity to live up to the reputation the old guys created.