Ravens sign Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach

Serious about upgrading their running game, the Baltimore Ravens added some muscle to their backfield by hammering out a three-year, $11 million contract with bulldozing All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach.y.

Regarded as the top free agent fullback after clearing gaping pathways last season for Houston Texans NFL rushing champion Arian Foster, Leach received a $4 million signing bonus and a total of $6 million in guaranteed money. "I'm happy to be a Raven, I can't wait to get up there," Leach said in a telephone interview. "I'm ready to go."

With Leach running interference for him, Foster rushed for 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He'll replace Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain, who's talking with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Your mentality has to be that every play is a car crash collision," Foster said. "You have to be willing to sacrifice your body. Hitting is what I do. You're going to go in there hit somebody every single time, every single play. I love football." With Leach operating as a punishing lead blocker, it's usually the linebackers who lose the confrontations.

The 6-foot, 255-pounder engulfs defenders with his low center of gravity, delivering brutal hits. "He's a Raven-type player," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "He's very physical and dedicated to the game. Our running game just got better." The Ravens targeted Leach quickly in free agency when Newsome contacted him and said he would be in touch.

"We looked at him since early this offseason, and he was definitely on our wish list," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Vonta fits the style of offense we are building, and his type of physical play is an addition that fits. We're looking forward to getting him in here and start mixing him in right away. This is another addition where the coaches can send a big ‘thank you' to the personnel department."

Leach is looking forward to blocking for Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who gained 1,220 rushing yards last season even while his rushing average dropped from 5.3 yardsper carry in 2009 to four yards per attempt last season. "The purple and black just turned it up a big notch" Rice said. "Having Vonta as a part of our offense makes us stronger and puts us one step closer to a Super Bowl, plain and simple. I can't wait to get out there on the field with him. I know he and I are going to just click." The Ravens ranked 14th in the NFL in rushing offense last year, averaging 114.4 yards per contest.

"I watched Ray Rice on film and he's a very good back," Leach said. "I'm just happy to play a small part. I think we can get the job done." Leach was also on the radar of the Texans, who declined to meet his price, the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos. Leach said he didn't want to leave the Texans initially, but had to make a decision that was best for him.

"You've got to understand it's a business," Leach said. "I'm happy to go somewhere where I'm wanted."

Ultimately, he preferred Baltimore. The Ravens met his asking price and offered him a chance to potentially chase a Super Bowl.

"I just want to win it all," Leach said. "I didn't know what was out there with McClain. I had no idea about the Ravens." Leach got acquainted with Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis at the Pro Bowl, and the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year left an impressive.

"I liked being around the guy," Leach said. "He's the leader and always been a face of the NFL." Leach is scheduled to fly to Baltimore this morning and could practice as soon as today provided his physical gets done quickly. "I've got to pack my things," Leach said. "It's time to play some football." Rice can't wait for Leach to arrive. He sent Leach a message via his Twitter account after the Ravens locked up his new bodyguard, writing, "Let the fun begin."

Ravens Insider Top Stories