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Ravens have stability in the secondary

This off-season, the Ravens secondary went from a weakness to the most stable unit on the team....

Last season was a debacle in the secondary for the Ravens, and it is something that Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh set out to repair over the off-season. Following the departure of safety James Ihedigbo and cornerback Corey Graham following the 2013 season, the Ravens filled in the gap at safety by sliding 2nd year safety Matt Elam to strong safety, signing Will Hill III and Darien Stewart, and drafting Terrence Brooks in the 3rd round to fill the safety void. The team also brought back 4th year corner Chykie Brown and 3rd year cornernback Asa Jackson to fill Graham`s spot as nickel-back. Brown had looked solid in limited time his first 2 years with the team, as well as serving as a key special teamer, although he seemed to regress a little on defense in his 3rd year. And Jackson had yet to be active for too many games between injuries and suspensions, but the organization clearly liked him.

However, these moves did not pan out with the exception of Will Hill. Stewart and Brooks had their moments at safety, but Elam regressed significantly. Brown and Jackson were both atrocious, and free agent signee Dominique Franks, who was equally bad. With starter Lardarius Webb missing the early part of the season with back issues, and Jimmy Smith going down for the season in week 8, the Ravens secondary was a huge weakness on an otherwise balanced team. The only positive emerging from the secondary was the play of corner Rashaan Melvin, who the Ravens signed off the Dolphins practice squad.

Fast forward to the 2015 off-season. The Ravens kick it off with the signing of 27 year old safety Kendrick Lewis. While Lewis may not be a pro bowl talent, he has raised the level of the secondaries he has played in, both in Kansas City and Houston. On a modest 3 year deal for $5.4 million, this signing was a typical Ozzie under the radar signing. He followed that up by restructuring mainstay Lardarius Webb to a more team-friendly deal, as his play has slipped as of late.

The next big move for the Ravens was the signing of Baltimore native Kyle Arrington following the Patriots jettisoning him, likely for salary reasons. Arrington has proven to be one of the better slot corners in the league, although his outside coverage leaves room for growth. This shores up the slot position for the Ravens.

The last step in fixing the Ravens secondary was internal. The front office locked up Jimmy Smith, one of the top corners in the NFL. Although he has battled injuries on and off and only really played all 16 games in 2013, the contract value was fair enough to make it a good deal for both sides. The Ravens then rewarded Will Hill with an extension through next season, rewarding him for his stellar play and showing their faith in him.

The Ravens secondary now looks like this for the next few years:

Will Hill: Free agent 2017
Kendrick Lewis: Free Agent 2018
Matt Elam: Free Agent 2017
Anthony Levine: Free Agent 2017
Terrence Brooks: Free Agent 2018
Jimmy Smith: Free Agent 2020
Lardarius Webb: Free Agent 2018
Rashaan Melvin: Free Agent 2016 ERFA (Essentially 2017)
Kyle Arrington: Free Agent 2018
Tray Walker: Free Agent 2019

Every player on this list (5 S and 5 CB) are under contract for at least 2 more years. While it is possible players like Lewis, Elam, and Webb do not play out their contracts, the team has the option of keeping them if they desire.

What a difference a few months can make. Just another example of how lucky we are as Ravens fans to have such a stellar front office.