Free Agency Preview: Safety

Posted on March 10, 2014 by Phil Gentile

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Ravens Safeties Currently Under Contract

Matt Elam (pictured above) 

Note: safeties Omar Brown, Anthony Levine, and Brynden Trawick are exclusive rights free agents

Burning Questions:

1, Will the Ravens move Elam to strong safety?

It's looking like a strong possibility. Landing a playmaker free safety in free agency or the draft would allow Elam to slide over to strong safety. There he would be able to use his skills to stack the box and deliver punishing tackles to opposing ball carriers.

2. Will James Ihedigbo land elsewhere this offseason?

Ihedigbo proved to be a very dependable piece of the Ravens defense in 2013 but I would guess he's headed elsewhere. The team will try to get younger and someone more suited for the free safety position, likely trying to improve on a starting secondary that only recorded eight interceptions last season.

3. Is there ANY chance they re-sign Ed Reed?

No chance....unless it is for a one-day contract so he can retire a Raven unfortunately. The coaching staff was determined to move on from Reed and despite a vacancy at free safety if/when Matt Elam slides over to strong safety, I would say the team will likely go with a younger option. Whether that's the draft or free agency we will have to wait and see.

Top Five Free Agent Options (Based on skill level and potential salary cap hit)

1. Jairus Byrd ($6.9 million in 2013)

Since Ed Reed left town the Ravens have missed having a playmaking safety to force opposing quarterbacks to make mistakes. Enter Byrd, who is the 2nd ranked free agent on Pro Football Focus' Top 75 List. Might be a bit expensive but with the money they saved from releasing Leach and McClain it's not impossible they make a splash in free agency. Probably too expensive for the Ravens and their salary cap concerns.

2, T.J. Ward ($1.2 million in 2013)

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The only knock on T.J. Ward is he's primarily played strong safety, which Matt Elam is being rumored to moving to next season. Like Byrd, Ward is a former Oregon Duck and is in the prime of his career. Ward has been the key to a revived Browns defense and I'm truly surprised they have decided to let him walk. He would be the ideal counterpart for Matt Elam.

3. Malcolm Jenkins ($4 million in 2013)

While his time as a cornerback was a disappointment, Jenkins excelled when the Saints moved him to safety after his rookie season. While Malcolm Jenkins only has six interceptions through his first five seasons, he excels at playing the "free rusher" on blitz packages when he has the freedom to make plays along the line of scrimmage. Most people seem to view Jenkins as a failed cornerback instead of an improving safety so maybe his value will be in the Ravens price range.

4. Louis Delmas ($1.2 million in 2013)

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After injury-filled seasons in 2011 and 2012, Delmas played in all sixteen games in 2013 and statistically had one of the best seasons of his career. He showed ability to rush the passer (two sacks) and make plays (career high three interceptions). His history of knee injuries might make some teams wary of his services since he's only 26 years old and the problems should only get worse. There are better options out there but he could be had for cheap later in free agency if no other team takes a gamble on him.

5. Antonie Bethea ($5.75 million in 2013)

The Colts Man of the Year in 2013, Bethea is widely known as a locker room leader and hasn't missed a game over his last six NFL seasons. A 6th round pick, Bethea has had 100+ tackles in five of the past six seasons but my biggest concern is he's only had three interceptions since 2010. With Elam moving to strong safety, the Ravens need some to force turnovers. Not just make tackles.

Other Free Agent Safety Options:

Husain Abdullah, Kansas City Chiefs

Mike Adams, Denver Broncos

Nate Allen, Philadelphia Eagles 

Will Allen, Pittsburgh Steelers 

Colt Anderson, Philadelphia Eagles 

Yeremiah Bell, Arizona Cardinals 

Sergio Brown, Indianapolis Colts 

Stevie Brown, New York Giants 

Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers 

Chris Clemons, Miami Dolphins 

Kurt Coleman, Philadelphia Eagles 

Chris Crocker, Cincinnati Bengals 

Quintin Demps, Kansas City Chiefs 

Reed Doughty, Washington Redskins 

Matt Giordano, St. Louis Rams 

Jose Gumbs, Washington Redskins 

Roman Harper, New Orleans Saints 

Michael Huff, Denver Broncos 

James Ihedigbo, Baltimore Ravens 

Jim Leonhard, Buffalo Bills 

Kendrick Lewis, Kansas City Chiefs 

Chris Maragos, Seattle Seahawks 

Taylor Mays, Cincinnati Bengals 

Danny McCray, Dallas Cowboys 

Brandon Meriweather, Washington Redskins 

Quintin Mikell, Carolina Panthers 

Jeromy Miles, Baltimore Ravens 

Mike Mitchell, Carolina Panthers 

Ryan Mundy, New York Giants 

Bernard Pollard, Tennessee Titans 

Ed Reed, New York Jets 

Craig Steltz, Chicago Bears 

Darian Stewart, St. Louis Rams 

Darrell Stuckey, San Diego Chargers 

John Wendling, Detroit Lions 

Donte Whitner, San Francisco 49ers 

Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders 

Major Wright, Chicago Bears 

Usama Young, Oakland Raiders

next up:

Flacco Plans On Private Workouts With Receivers This Offseason

March 09, 2014

Quarterback looking to improve relationship with playmakers


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