Corey Graham a priority for the Ravens to bring back for 2014 NFL season

Corey Graham should be someone Baltimore focuses on keeping this offseason. - Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

In two years, Graham has proved his worth on defense.

The Ravens would be wise to do whatever they can to bring back Corey Graham in 2014.

The Ravens already have two strong corners locked in next year in Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. Webb steadily improved with his repaired ACL and was able to play at a high level even with a sports hernia.

Smith's cover skills and physicality got better throughout the 2013 season, as it would appear he's finally playing to the potential his first-round status garnered him.

Having Graham back will give all three players a chance to work this offseason to form a more cohesive and versatile unit. As it stands, cornerback was probably the best position on defense through the entire season, or at least the area that saw the most growth as the year progressed.

Graham gives the Ravens multiple options on defense — he can be used to blitz the quarterback, he and Webb are interchangeable as nickel corners and he fill in as an outside corner if there's an injury to the other two. If injuries happen at safety, he can also step back there and fill in for emergency situations.

"If we could keep Corey [Graham] in the fold — and Ozzie [Newsome] feels the same way — we're going to do everything we can to do it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Tuesday. "If we can't, we can't, because he's played so well that maybe it will be one of these deals where — we wanted to keep Paul [Kruger] here, we wanted to keep [Dannell] Ellerbe here. We've had a lot of guys over the years we've wanted to keep here that we haven't been able to do it."

Graham should command a higher salary and the Ravens are up against some cap restrictions. To save money, the Ravens may want to think of restructuring some deals, namely Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, so that they can create some space for other key players.

Graham would be one of those key players that Baltimore should focus on keeping. Graham finished tied for fifth on the team in total tackles with 74 (same as Webb) and led the defense with four interceptions. Having all three corners in the secondary would make this unit extremely tough to pass on next season.

It would also allow the coaching staff and front office to focus on other positions without worrying about what to do at that particular position.

"if we could hold on to Corey, we really don't have to do anything else at cornerback," Harbaugh said. "We can go with the guys we've got, because the rest of the guys are back. A young guy like Asa [Jackson] would be our fifth corner. We'd be in good shape there. If we lose Corey, then we're going to have to do something where we're going to have to add a corner to the mix for next year."


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