By all appearances, it seems as though the Baltimore Ravens intend to move on from nose tackle Brandon Williams following a long tenure together. Williams, who as of this writing remains an unrestricted free agent, has spent his entire nine-year career with the Ravens since being selected in the third round in 2013.
Over the course of his career, he has started 114 of 123 games, serving as a primary instrument of their run defense. He has recorded 323 career tackles with 33 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, one touchdown, and 11 passes defensed.
He also turned 33 years old last month, and the Ravens just recently signed Michael Pierce, whom they originally signed as a college free agent out of Samford in 2016. He signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings in 2021, but was released earlier in the offseason, and has now returned to Baltimore.
“Your agent fields all these calls and he says, ‘These teams have interest,’ and you kind of mull things over, you look at their roster and everything”, the sixth-year veteran recently told the team’s website. “But once he told me Baltimore was interested, everything dropped”.
Pierce also served as a starter for much of his time in Baltimore, starting 38 of 60 games. He recorded 151 tackles during his four years there, including 13 tackles for loss, with 3.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, and two passes defensed.
Williams has made more than $50 million during his nine seasons with the Ravens. He originally signed a five-year, $52.5 million contract extension with the team in 2017, though that was renegotiated multiple times in the past two years.
Pierce left Baltimore in 2020 with their decision to retain Williams, signing a three-year, $27 million contract in Minnesota. He opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so technically played his first year of that three-year deal in 2021, but he suffered an elbow injury early in the year. He was limited to just eight games, recording 20 tackles and a career-high three sacks, along with his only career forced fumble. He is happy to come back and build where he started.
“For me, I just knew I missed this place. I made such great bonds here. It was a no-brainer”, Pierce told the team’s website. “I grew into a grown man here. Seeing the streets again, seeing how things have changed, seeing the people in the building … it’s surreal, man. I’m blessed to see things come full circle”
And he believes he returns to the Ravens an improved player, particularly in the aforementioned pass rush, and expects to be asked to have a more active role in that department this time around. “It was something I was never asked to do”, he said. “We haven’t gotten deep into it, but I’m going to remind [my coaches] I can do it. I’m for sure going to be lobbying for it, for sure”.