For pending free-agent defensive tackle Michael Pierce, Baltimore presents an opportunity to win in a familiar setting, reason enough to want to stick around for years to come.
Oh, and he would also prefer not to have to pack up his stuff.
“If they’ll have me, I do not want to move. I don’t care to move my house,” Pierce said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 20. “I don’t care to move my stuff. But more importantly, I’m familiar with the organization, from our owner on down. Familiarity and just the roster that we have here, I don’t see anywhere that I could know my role, play well and know what to expect from a team and a coach. Continuity is everything in this league. If we can work that out, that would be a dream come true and we won’t have to move and we’ll know what to expect going forward.”
Of course, Pierce has presented himself with plenty of options once free agency opens in March. Teams seeking to improve their run defense will likely take a long look at Pierce, whom Pro Football Focus rates as the No. 34 free agent in the class. Pierce, who had a breakout season in 2018 as a run stuffer and interior pass rusher, followed that up with another solid season this year, with 35 tackles and two tackles for loss.
Two defensive tackles who signed free-agent contracts last spring offer perspective of what Pierce could get on the open market. Sheldon Richardson signed a three-year, $37 million deal with $21 million guaranteed with the Cleveland Browns, while Malik Jackson inked a three-year, $30 million pact with $17 million guaranteed with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Ravens currently have about $29 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.
Pierce is excited about the opportunities that come along with free agency. Last spring, former teammate Za’Darius Smith signed a four-year, $66 million contract with $20 million guaranteed and bought his mother a house soon thereafter. Could Pierce do something like that for his parents, too?
“As my years have progressed and I’ve seen myself become a better player and understand I have some work in this league, you start to daydream and think about things you can do for your family,” Pierce said. “One thing for me, my parents raised me tremendously and have well-paying jobs, but I would love to do the same thing: buy them a home and make sure whatever they need, their immediate needs are taken care of. I’ve felt like I’ve put myself in a good financial position to do that going forward and saved a good amount of money while I was in the league just in case things didn’t work out.”
Pierce is in no hurry to leave town, though, after the Ravens put together a franchise-best 14-2 regular-season record and secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the first time in team history. Since Lamar Jackson took over as the team’s starting quarterback last November, the Ravens are 20-5, including the playoffs. Jackson, 23, is the presumptive league MVP and figures to just be getting started.
Pierce said he told Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen that he wants to put himself in a position to win in the short and long term. In his four seasons in the NFL, the worst season Pierce has experienced is the Ravens’ 8-8 mark in 2016. He’s also been a part of top-five defenses each of the past two years.
“A lot of people make a lot of financially-motivated decisions,” Pierce said. “Obviously, that’ll play its role, but for me, if you can be on a winning team and feel like you have a chance to legitimately have a shot at the Super Bowl each and every year with a player like Lamar and a coach like [John Harbaugh] and the organization being run the way it is, that’s first and foremost for me. I want to be able to put myself in a position to win this year.”
If Pierce does have to move, he admits he’ll be uneasy about what may lie ahead.
“I relate it to anything,” Pierce said. “Going into any new workplace, whether you’re an architect going to a different firm or a doctor going to a different hospital, there’s a level of nervousness that you would have, reservations that you will have just being under new management and their style of doing things. It’s very much a nerve-wracking thing from that aspect, but at the end of the day football is football, and you’ll adjust and get things done accordingly.”
For more from Pierce, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox