Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ravens Ink Stallworth

Donte Stallworth will likely become the Ravens #3 wide receiver.

The Ravens signed WR Donte Stallworth over the weekend. Stallworth, 29, has played with the Saints, Eagles, Patriots and Browns over the course of his 7 year career. But Stallworth is perhaps most famous for the 2009 incident where he fatally struck a pedestrian in Miami while driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to Wikipedia, Stallworth was still over the legal limit from the night before when the accident occurred the next morning. So it's not like he got behind the wheel as he left the club and then ran someone over. It's also important to note that the man was walking on a highway bridge which doesn't contain a walkway for pedestrians.

I bring this up because I know the Ravens will get a lot of flack for signing Stallworth when coach John Harbaugh is trying to build the Ravens with good character guys. He helped develop the "Play like a Raven" motto from last year. And of course, the Ravens start linebacker, Ray Lewis, was involved in the Atlanta scandal in 2000 that saw 2 men killed in a scuffle outside of a night club. So opposing fans will have plenty of "murderer" smack to choose from in 2010, despite the details of each incident that paint a much different picture.

That said, Stallworth did act irresponsibly, and a man lost his life. It can't just be glossed over.

However, the Ravens signed Stallworth to play football, and what the Ravens get in him is a decent #3 wide receiver. Stallworth had some good seasons in 2005-2007 before signing with the pass-challenged Browns in 2008 and missed the entire 2009 season because of a suspension stemming from the accident. So it's a good bet that Stallworth will take some time to get his football legs back under him.

Because the signing was made early, many Ravens fans will dislike the move, thinking that Stallworth has been signed to be a top 2 receiver. Well, I hope he wasn't signed with that intention and I don't think he was. Harbaugh was the special teams coach in Philly when Stallworth was there, so it's pretty clear that Harbaugh sees Stallworth as a role player. Along with Kelley Washington, Stallworth is a good possession receiver. And if Washington decides to sign elsewhere, Stallworth is a solid replacement.

But beyond that, the Ravens still have a lot of work to do to improve their WR corps, with Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton both potential free agents.

But as of today, I like the move.

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