Ravens 2012 Awards: Offseason Signing of the Year

Ravens 2012 Awards: Offseason Signing of the Year
February 6, 2013, 5:00 pm
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The Ravens' remarkable run is over, the parade route is finally cleared out, and the Lombardi Trophy is safely locked up at the Ravens' Under Armour Performance Center, with the players fingerprints all over it -- remember, they would not touch or even look at it before the Super Bowl on Ray Lewis' orders.

So with the Super Bowl hoopla finally subsiding, we are handing out our 2012 Ravens end-of-season awards.

Previously, we had the Coaching Move of the Year.

Now, the Offseason Signing of the Year: 

The Ravens needed a viable No. 3 receiver and wanted to take the pressure off Lardarius Webb as a return threat. They got both when they signed Jacoby Jones to a two-year, $7 million deal in May after he was released by the Texans.

"Adding Jacoby gives us another proven downfield weapon in our passing game and production with our returns," general manager Ozzie Newsome said at the time." His experience makes the offense better, and the competition he brings can help raise our levels at receiver and with punt and kickoff returns."

Jones had made a huge special teams gaffe with Houston against the Ravens in the playoffs last season. But there were very few gaffes from Jones this season, who cemented this award with an electrifying performance in the Super Bowl that could have earned him the game's MVP award. His record-setting 108-yard kickoff return to open the second half came after his 56-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

It might seem hard to believe or recall, but Jones didn't even start the season as the Ravens' No. 1 kick returner. Rookie Deonte Thompson held that job. But once Jones took over the job in Week 6, there was no stopping him. His first kickoff return for the Ravens, against the Cowboys, went for a 108-yard touchdown. His 63-yard punt return at Heinz Field was the Ravens' lone touchdown in their 13-10 win over Pittsburgh.

Including the playoffs, Jones had a franchise-record four return touchdowns and led the league in kickoff returns with an average of 30.7 yards.

As a receiver, Jones was a viable No. 3 receiver, finishing with 30 catches for 406 yards in the regular season. He was also involved in the most remarkable play of the season, the stunning, 70-yard bomb from Joe Flacco in the final minute at Denver that sent the AFC Divisional Round playoff game to overtime.

Jones nearly signed with Carolina in the offseason, but told the Charlotte Observer that he changed his mind after meeting some of the Ravens veterans.

"When I walked in the (Ravens) locker room, I was done. I was like, ‘I’m signing,’” Jones told the paper. “How these guys act to each other, it was like a family.”

Up next: Underrated Player of the Year