They did not make an offer to Jones, who signed a five-year, $33 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts. They knew another team would give Jones more than they were willing to pay. But they also knew that if he signed elsewhere they could receive a compensatory pick — likely a fourth-rounder or a fifth-rounder — in 2015.
"I think the thing that Ozzie and company have done so well over time is that they value their free agents at a certain price and they stay with that price. They don't move with the market and chase the market," former NFL general manager Bill Polian, now an analyst at ESPN, said on a recent conference call. "Ultimately, when you draft well and you exercise restraint in free agency, you end up with a pretty good situation. And that's what they've done."
The NFL began awarding compensatory picks in 1994. Since then, the Ravens (formerly the Cleveland Browns) have received 41 of those picks, the most in the NFL.
Among the players the Ravens have selected with compensatory picks, which cannot be traded, are running back Chester Taylor, fullbacks Ovie Mughelli and Le'Ron McClain, quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Troy Smith, rush linebacker Pernell McPhee and offensive tackle Rick Wagner.
Notable compensatory picks throughout NFL history include quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, safety Antoine Bethea, wide receiver Hines Ward, outside linebacker (and recent Super Bowl MVP) Malcolm Smith, and some guy named Tom Brady.
"They matter," New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who has won three Super Bowls with Brady as his quarterback, succinctly said in 2010.
The Ravens obviously agree with that line of thinking.
Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson contributed to this article.