Baltimore Ravens analysts at every level are speculating about the Ravens’ group of defensive backs, which features three cornerbacks dealing with injury and one already lost for the year. Specifically, they are speculating about who the Ravens will add to that group from the free agent market.
Make no mistake, secondary depth is an issue. When Jimmy Smith went down against Dallas Saturday, Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks had to try to defend Dez Bryant and the rest of the Cowboys’ receivers. Needless to say, that did not go well.
That said, the free agent market is not the right way to go for the Ravens to address the situation. Even in the worst case scenario, the Ravens would be better off standing pat in the secondary. Better yet and more likely, the Ravens will scour other teams’ cuts to add a diamond in the rough.
Look at the list of guys the Ravens could bring in right now. Asante Samuel. Quentin Jammer. Chris Houston. Dunta Robinson. These guys have two things in common: Their health is in question, and they will not contribute on special teams.
Those two things are huge.
There is no good reason for the Ravens to add injury risks to an already injury-depleted secondary, and every big-name option on the market is an injury risk.
Second, any corner the Ravens sign would at best be the nickel back, and more likely, would barely play at all. Asa Jackson has played well when healthy, and Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith are locked in to their starting roles. No free agent is likely to change that top three.
That makes special teams contributions crucial when adding another corner. If the Ravens are forced to add another cornerback, that will fill a roster spot that would otherwise be filled by another backup who likely contributes mostly on special teams.
The only way the Ravens can find a player who fits the bill, both durable and special teams oriented, is on the waiver wire.
Nobody knows who will be available, but you can bet Ozzie Newsome has been looking at other teams’ cornerback situations, reviewing every possible option.
And although corners are a valuable commodity, and the pickings may be slim, the Ravens only need to find a player better than Dominique Franks or Tramain Jacobs, the probable fourth and fifth corners at this point. Based on their preseason performances, that should not be a tough task.
In sum, the Ravens priorities should be special teams and durability. None of the current free agent options fulfill those priorities, but I would bet someone on the waiver wire will.