On Friday, the Baltimore Ravens made a surprise announcement. The Ravens signed inside linebacker L.J. Fort to a 2-year contract extension. Fort was set to be a free agent after this year, so the extension keeps him on Baltimore’s books throughout the 2021 season. Fort joined the Ravens earlier this season in late September after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. Baltimore was hoping to get a solid veteran linebacker, and the Ravens struck gold with Fort. Fort has been a solid presence in the group since he joined and with the help of fellow mid-season signing, Josh Bynes, the two have rejuvenated the defensive front. Since joining the Ravens, Fort has recorded 14 combined tackles, one sack, and one pass deflection.
After the Ravens announced the contract extension, NFL Network’s NFL Insider, Ian Rapoport, reported on the financial side of the deal. According to Rapoport, the deal is worth $5.5 million. Of that $5.5 million, Fort receives $3.25 million in fully guaranteed money. As Rapoport points up, this is a big payday for the linebacker that was cut by the Eagles just five weeks prior. Fort earned the money though, as Ravens’ general manager, Eric DeCosta, saw Fort’s value now and in the future.
The #Ravens have signed LB LJ Fort to a 2-year, surprise extension through 2021 that pays him $5.5M, source said. He gets $3.25M fully guaranteed at signing — all next year. He was cut 5 weeks ago by the #Eagles and still has $1.9M in guarantees this year. An early payday.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 8, 2019
Eric DeCosta has made it a priority of his administration to get players signed to early extensions to prevent them from leaving Baltimore in free agency. Just this past year, DeCosta signed Tavon Young, Justin Tucker, Marshal Yanda, Willie Snead, and now L.J. Fort to early contract extensions. This strategy could lead to an influx of dead cap should the Ravens move on from these players early, but the strategy ensures that some of Baltimore’s most important players remain with the Ravens for a long time. Extending Fort’s contract will not prevent the Ravens from looking for additional inside linebacker help in the future, but it will ensure that Fort has a role in the defense for the next few years.