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Offseason positional preview: Cornerback

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens have fielded one of the better secondaries in the NFL for the past couple of seasons, which is interesting considering some of the issues they had in the defensive backfield in prior years. The turnaround, unsurprisingly, came thanks to substantial investment.

In 2015, they re-signed Jimmy Smith long term and in 2016 they drafted Tavon Young. The next year they signed Brandon Carr in free agency and snagged Marlon Humphrey with their first pick in that year’s draft.

It didn’t stop there either, as Maurice Canady was a late pick who’s worked out fairly well when healthy, and they again used a fourth rounder on Anthony Averett in 2018. It’s paid off as corner is arguably the team’s strongest position right now.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the position could potentially change or even be improved heading into 2019:

Current depth chart:

• LCB: Brandon Carr (2019 cap hit = $7,000,000), Jimmy Smith (2019 cap hit = $15,850,865), Anthony Averett (2019 cap hit = $735,249)

• RCB: Marlon Humphrey (2019 cap hit = $3,231,121), Tavon Young (2019 cap hit = $871,284), Maurice Canady (2019 cap hit = $744,089)

Offseason outlook:

With all of these players currently under contract for 2019, the only question is of course surrounding salaries. Smith’s really stands out considering his suspension to start the year and some shaky play after he made his return.

At age 30 and possibly heading for a decline thanks to his physical playing style (PFF has him as an above average player with a 65.3 grade) it’s worth wondering if the front office isn’t interested in continuing to ride the Smith roller coaster at such a high cost. Whether that means he’s cut, restructured, or simply starts playing up to his salary, something is going to have to change. To his credit he snagged two picks in Week 17 so hopefully that’s a sign of things to come for him.

The other salary to look at is of course Brandon Carr. The stalwart veteran had another solid if unspectacular season, and the only question is whether the consummate pro’s salary is ultimately worth it.

He’ll be 33 next season and grades out as above average (71.5) on PFF. His seven million dollar hit is certainly a decent chunk but is on the lower end of the team’s starters.

This decision will come down to what the front office is thinking, but Carr has been a steady presence in Baltimore’s secondary for the last two years. Stability may be as good a reason as any to keep him around.

Outside of those two, it’s hard not to get excited about the rest of this crew. Humphrey is a beast, Young and Canady have proven they can play, and Averett was seen as a steal this past year.

Let us know what you think of this group in the comments below.