When defensive end Marcus Spears was released after eight years with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this month, he wasn’t lacking for suitors.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens all wanted his services.
“It was four teams that I think were real players as far as entertaining offers and trying to be in the best situation,” Spears said via conference call Tuesday. “But to be honest with you, it didn’t take me any time once I heard Baltimore wanted to sign me. That was it. I wanted to try to get it done with the Ravens. We were able to and I’m happy about it.”
Spears, 30, agreed to a two-year, $3.55 million contract with the Ravens on Friday and talked to the area media for the first time this afternoon.
After 119 games over eight years with the only team he has known, Spears was forced to move on. But in today’s salary-cap NFL full of ever-changing teams, Spears said he felt fortunate to be able to spend that long with one organization, the same one that selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft.
“It was a great time. It was a fortunate situation because, like you said, it is rare,” Spears said. “I think it’s a credit to Dallas, I think it’s a credit to myself and my teammates. I think a lot of things have to work out for you to end up staying in one place for eight years and obviously they did, and it was a total blessing for me to be able to.
“But I’m almost as excited about this opportunity to come play in that market with that football team, and I see how the city has welcomed me and responded to me signing. And it just has me to an excitement level (where) you almost feel like a rookie again. So to have that opportunity is great. But my eight years have been great in Dallas. I will never forget it for the life of me, but I just have to make new memories and hopefully win a championship with Baltimore. It’s a great opportunity for myself.”
So what about the Ravens and their reputation made them the right fit for Spears?
“You obviously think defense. These guys have been playing great defense, a winning football team, they’ve been to the playoffs year in and year out,” he said. “You guys have an elite quarterback, or we have an elite quarterback. I need to stop saying (you). You just accredit them to being a really good football team and contenders every year with obviously them winning the big show. So to be a part of that is a no-brainer for a guy like me that’s going into my ninth year because we all try to get that hardware.”
Spears provides Baltimore with a skill set the team was hoping to upgrade. He comes over from Dallas known as an adept run-stuffer.
“That’s been my role for a while and I take a lot of pride on teams not running the football on the defense that I’m playing on,” he said. “Obviously, offenses are good and guys have been able to break through a few times, but all in all, you want to be a real good defensive football team up front. A lot of people say that the NFL has turned into a passing league with the guys that throw for a lot of yards. ...
“That does help you win games, but if you can’t stop the run, you have a long season ahead of you as a football team. Just put me in and hopefully give that to the football team and work to be in the position where we understand each other and we can play off each other. This game is a team game and up front, I really believe that guys around you make you better, and that’s how I like to function as a D-lineman, and I think having Haloti (Ngata) and Chris (Canty) and Arthur Jones and the guys that have been playing on the D-line, I think having a rapport with those guys and being able to work together early, we can get a feel for each other and it’ll make us a better D-lne for sure.”
Spears joins a player with whom he entered the league. Canty, the Ravens’ other signing to upgrade the defensive line, was selected by the Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2005 draft and spent his first four seasons on the same line with Dallas.
Spears is excited about the reunion.
“It’s always good to have some recall with guys that you’ve played with and also are friends with, so you’re not really coming in alone,” he said. “You’ve got somebody that knows you, you have somebody that knows how you work. Also, we’ll bounce things off of each other. We both are going into our ninth year, so we became hopefully better players, I would like to say.
“Having Chris there is a comfort level. It’s a lot of veterans that have been playing for a while on that defense, and that’s always a great situation because they understand game-prep situations and adjustments are a lot easier to make. So just to be in that role as one of the guys that can come in and try to contribute immediately, it gives me a great sense of where I am with the team.”
Spears believe he’s the exact kind of player who fits what the Ravens’ defense aims to do up front.
“I think anytime you play the 3-4, and I have, if you a solid rotation with the D-linemen, I think you have a chance to be a real good football team on defense,” he said. “Looking at the guys that’s already there playing, it’s a no-brainer. Obviously, you guys won the Super Bowl last year and had a lot of great players perform well. But the opportunity to play with Ngata and (Terrell) Suggs and hopefully Ed Reed, keeping my fingers crossed, it was just something that you can’t pass up.
“And then the guys on the D-line, you kind of keep an eye on the teams that are doing well when you’re playing for someone else. And I thought it would be a great fit, and also having Chris sign with you guys before I did, I thought it was just a great opportunity.
“(I’ll be) left end probably mostly and they move guys. They move guys around a lot. I know they try to give Ngata a lot of match-ups, try to expose guys on offense through him and so you’ve got to be flexible. And I think that’s what gives us a great chance to be good up front is that a lot of guys can play a lot of different positions. When you have that flexibility, I think it gives you the opportunity to play a bunch of guys and keep guys fresh.”