The Ravens are finalizing a new contract for OLB/DE Jihad Ward, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). Ward was one of the handful of free agents Baltimore added to its defense in the middle of the 2019 season who helped fortify the unit and keyed the club’s 14-2 finish.
The Raiders selected Ward in the second round of the 2016 draft, which gives some clue as to his upside. He was traded to the Cowboys in April 2018, but he did not make Dallas’ roster that year and ultimately caught on with the Colts’ taxi squad. He played in six games for Indy in 2018 and recorded three sacks, but his season was cut short due to an ankle injury.
He saw action in three games for the Colts in 2019 before being waived, and the Ravens, in need of pass rush help, picked him up. Though he recorded just one sack in 11 games in Baltimore, he, like fellow under-the-radar pickups Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort, brought much-needed stability to the team’s front seven.
He also accounted for 23 pressures in only 398 snaps, which is even more valuable since some of those pressures came from the interior. He will turn just 26 in May, so it makes sense for the Ravens to keep him around at what will probably be a low-cost deal and to see if he can’t stay healthy and start converting those pressures into sacks.