Where did Brent Urban Go?
I’m willing to bet you forgot he’s not with Baltimore. At least, not right now…
Brent Urban is a player that many just assumed would be back in Baltimore next year. Yet, he remains at large. The unrestricted free agent hit the open market at the start of free agency in March, but not the Ravens, nor any other team has signed him.
Urban was signed to a one-year prove-it deal last offseason. The Ravens liked what they saw in Urban, a young defensive end with plenty of talent. But Baltimore was too concerned about his injury history to award him with a long-term contract. Urban suffered a Linsfranc foot sprain early in the 2017 season. The injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. This injury was not an anomaly either. Urban only played a full 16 games once, in 2016. He missed all of his rookie season and most of 2015 and 2017. Despite the injury history, the Ravens wanted to give Urban one last shot to solidify himself as a long-term member of the Ravens front seven. In 2018, he did just that.
Brent Urban played and started in all 16 regular season games last year. He also started in Baltimore’s playoff game against the Chargers. As a starting defensive end, Urban recorded 27 combined tackles, half a sack, and two tackles for loss. While he did not amaze the football world with his statistical performance, it was clear that his presence on the line was important to the defense.
The Ravens had every opportunity to re-sign Urban this offseason. As a low-profile free agent, Urban has not attracted teams willing to overpay and outbid the Ravens. Despite having the opportunity and capital on hand to offer Urban a new deal, nothing has come to fruition. But why?
There is no clear answer. Ravens general manager, Eric DeCosta mentioned that Brent Urban was a player that the Ravens would like to bring back, but only at the right price. The Ravens have yet to close the door on signing Urban, and DeCosta expressed his surprise that Urban is still on the market last week:
DeCosta said the team hasn't closed the door on FA DE Brent Urban. "Right player, right price. The market is a fluid process, and we’re going to try and build the best def. we can. I certainly think Brent is a good player. I’m surprised that he hasn’t signed with another team."
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) March 25, 2019
It’s not like signing Brent Urban would hurt the Ravens. It is puzzling that DeCosta would say that Urban is the “Right player, right price,” but make no move to re-sign him. Again, he has yet to sign with another team, and a fair deal would likely keep his salary cap hit low. As Joe Schiller, a writer for baltimroeravens.com points out, re-signing Urban would not hurt the Ravens compensatory pick formula. Baltimore would not lose a pick gained in next year’s draft because Urban was on the Ravens last year. The formula only takes into account players lost, and players gained, not players that remain.
How the #Ravens can tackle free agency without losing comp picks:
1. Sign free agents of their own (Maxx Williams, Brent Urban, etc.)
2. Wait until May 8th – when FA signings won't count against the 2020 compensatory formula
3. Go after restricted free agents
— Joe Schiller (@JoeSchiller123) April 2, 2019
It is puzzling that the Ravens have not yet re-signed Urban, but Eric DeCosta may have a plan at the position. Perhaps he was never really high on Urban and sees his injury history as a cause for concern. Or maybe DeCosta envisions drafting a younger defensive end to start over at the position. It is not clear what his intentions are, but we should expect to know whether Urban is coming back to Baltimore before the end of the NFL Draft this April. He may be picked up by another team before then, or the Ravens may re-sign him, or officially move on by drafting new defensive ends. Until then, the mystery to where Urban is heading remains.