Veteran special teams standout Levine staying with Ravens on one-year deal

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One of the longest-tenured Ravens is staying put for the 2021 season as special teams standout and reserve defensive back Anthony Levine agreed to a one-year contract on Wednesday.

The deal comes three weeks after the official start of the free-agent signing period, but the 34-year-old has long been considered one of head coach — and former Philadelphia special teams coordinator — John Harbaugh’s favorites and always seemed likely to return for his 10th season in Baltimore. Originally signed to the practice squad at the end of the 2012 preseason, Levine trails only punter Sam Koch (2006), cornerback Jimmy Smith (2011), and kicker Justin Tucker (earlier in 2012) for the longest tenure on the current Ravens roster. Nicknamed “Co-Cap” by former Ravens linebacker and special teams standout Albert McClellan years ago as a nod to his leadership for the unit, Levine has been credited with helping plenty of younger teammates who started out trying to make the roster on special teams.

“He’s not only just a good player, but he’s a coach,” special teams coordinator Chris Horton said last November. “He’s like having an extra coach out there because he’ll see things. He does a great job of helping those young guys. In the meetings, when they don’t ask questions, he might know what they’re thinking. But they don’t want to ask the question, [and] he’ll bring it up. A young guy might say, ‘I was just thinking that,’ and he’ll tell them, ‘You should have asked that question.’

“He does a great job out there obviously communicating to the young guys, making sure that they understand, and really just helping those guys study a little bit — how to prepare for special teams, what you should be looking at, and things like that.”

The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Levine had played in an impressive 117 straight games before a lingering abdomen injury sidelined him in Week 6 last season, forcing him to miss his first action since 2012. The veteran still managed to play in every other contest and finished fourth in special teams snaps in 2020, but his 30 defensive snaps marked his lowest total since 2015 as defensive coordinator Wink Martindale largely abandoned the dime package in which Levine had played quite a bit the previous four seasons.

The recent re-signings of Levine and inside linebacker L.J. Fort mean the Ravens are now set to return their top 12 special teams contributors in terms of snap count from 2020. Football Outsiders ranked the Ravens second in their special teams efficiency metric last season.

Levine, a 2010 undrafted free agent from Tennessee State who began his NFL career with two seasons on the Green Bay practice squad, has collected 137 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, and 15 pass breakups in 129 games.