Baltimore Ravens: Safety is not a big need


Dec 14, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens safety Terrence Brooks (31) is assisted off the field after suffering an apparent injury on the opening kickoff against the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

After ranking 23rd in the league in passing defense and losing multiple games because of an inability to stop the pass, the Baltimore Ravens secondary is obviously a weak spot. The cornerback position is brutal, and the safety position was up-and-down last year. Despite the common perception, though, safety is not a big need.

One starter is already in place, assuming he stays out of trouble. Will Hill is a restricted free agent and should be back in Baltimore with little trouble. Though not exactly a huge playmaker, Hill is steady, a sound tackler and athletic. Hill won’t give up many big plays, and he can deliver the occasional big hit as well.

The other safety spot is a little bit up in the air, but the Ravens do have options.

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Start with Terrence Brooks. Aside from the occasional rookie mistake, Brooks flashed a lot of ability last year, especially in coverage. He’s talented, athletic and instinctive, not to mention young. Why so many have seemingly given up on him is a mystery. Just a little development and more aggressiveness in coverage could help Brooks grow into a tremendous player.

If the idea of starting Brooks and Hill doesn’t inspire confidence, try Jeromy Miles or Darian Stewart.

Miles started at times last year and played very well. He’s a true strong safety who tackles well and knows what he can and cannot do. Accordingly, Miles is less mistake prone than the rest of the Ravens’ options, though he will make fewer big plays as well.

Stewart, meanwhile, had some high-profile mistakes last year that dampened what was otherwise a decent season. He can start and be a league average safety, though he doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Miles and Stewart are both unrestricted free agents. Miles can probably be retained for the veterans minimum, while Stewart will earn a small deal in the $1-3 million range most likely. Miles is probably the better value at the rate.

The situation isn’t great, but by the end of the 2014 season, safety wasn’t the biggest issue in the secondary anymore. And that was without the promising Brooks. Retain one of Miles or Stewart, retain Hill and add a health Brooks, and that is a workable safety group. Not great, but workable.

That’s not to say the Ravens shouldn’t look to upgrade. Ozzie Newsome and company should consider any affordable upgrade, which will most likely take the form of a player cut from another team. But to consider it a need worthy of the same level of attention as cornerback or receiver is folly.

Observant readers will recognize that I haven’t mentioned Matt Elam. If he is on the field in 2015, it will be because something went horribly wrong this offseason. His lack of instincts and complete inability to tackle don’t look fixable.

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