OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens’ unyielding effort to land a big-play receiver finally paid off Friday when nine-year veteran Michael Crabtree signed a three-year contract.
Hours after disclosing that the Ravens voided the contract of Washington Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant following a failed physical, general manager Ozzie Newsome landed Crabtree, who played the past three seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
Crabtree toured the Ravens’ complex Friday morning and signed in the late afternoon.
“I always imagined myself being a Raven when I was little,” Crabtree said. “I came here, loved it and signed on the dotted line.”
In two games over the past two years with Oakland, the former 49ers star scorched Baltimore for 13 catches for 170 yards and four touchdowns.
Facing the Ravens in the 2012 Super Bowl, Crabtree had five receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown for San Francisco in a 34-31 loss.
“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”
The 30-year-old Crabtree played six seasons with San Francisco before joining the Raiders. He has 579 career receptions for 6,870 yards and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games.
The 6-1, 215-pound Crabtree has totaled at least 85 catches in a season three times, including a career-high 89 in 2016. He has twice surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
Crabtree joins former Arizona receiver John Brown as new potential targets for quarterback Joe Flacco, who directed a lackluster passing attack that last year ranked 27th in the NFL.
Almost as soon as the Ravens cleared out their lockers following a 9-7 finish in 2017, Newsome set out to improve the weakest facet of a team that’s missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
“If you dial it back to a year ago, we talked about how we wanted to get our defense stronger, and we did that. Then we said we wanted to run the football and we were able to do that,” Newsome said Friday morning, speaking with Brown at his side. “The next piece is to get a better passing game. If we give Joe some weapons, and we improve in the passing game, maybe that will be enough to help us get over the hump.”
Newsome said he withdrew Grant’s four-year contract offer following the exam and after consulting with team doctors and outside physicians.
“That’s not a football decision,” Newsome said. “That’s a medical condition that I have no control over.”
Though Grant never missed a game in his four years with the Redskins, Newsome said the physical found an issue with his ankle.
“We knew he had had an ankle injury in the latter part of the season with the Redskins,” Newsome said. “But he had passed their postseason physical, so we had no indication that it could have been there.”
Brown played four seasons with Arizona before signing a one-year contract this week with Baltimore.
“The thing about John is, he can take the top off of the defense,” Newsome said. “A lot of times when you go with a vertical receiver, they have a very limited route tree. John does not. John can run every route in the route tree. The other aspect of this that attracted John to us is that we feel like his best football is still in front of him.”
Brown, two years removed from a 1,000-yard season, expects to ring up big numbers with Baltimore.
“I felt like this was the best fit for me,” he said. “They like to use a lot of receivers with speed. I feel like I can come in and help this team.”
Newsome said he “has not closed the door” on re-signing receivers Michael Campanaro and Mike Wallace, and has been “having conversations” with several tight ends.
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)