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Offseason positional preview: Safety

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Having fielded arguably the greatest free safety to ever play the sport, the Ravens know a thing or two about the position. Their 2018 unit had an interesting season with a lot of ups and downs, and now there are a many questions about the position heading into the new year.

In 2016, they signed free safety Eric Weddle to finally anchor the back end for them after years of tumult at the position. A year later, they brought Tony Jefferson in via free agency, a thumper intended to complement Weddle’s range.

How did they fare in 2018, and what’s their outlook moving forward?

A 2019 positional preview for the safety position:

Current depth chart:

• FS: Eric Weddle (2019 cap hit = $8,250,000), Chuck Clark: ($688,702), DeShon Elliot (Placed on injured reserve)

• SS: Tony Jefferson (2019 cap hit = $12,656,666), Anthony Levine Sr. (2019 cap hit = $1,633,334)

Offseason outlook:

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say there’s probably going to be some change at both safety positions in some capacity. With his status somewhat up in the air, Weddle confirmed his career ends when his time with the Ravens is over:

This makes some sense; Weddle isn’t the same player as even the 2016 version of himself, and his lack of speed is noticeable at this point. Still, he’s one of those special personalities you’d hate to see the locker room lose.

If a pay cut is an option, it would be great to see the 34 year old come back to help continue the team’s transition into the Lamar Jackson era, even if he’s not a big part of the defensive gameplan. Keep an eye out as that situation continues to unfold.

As for Jefferson, it’s going to be tough for him to justify the above ‘19 cap number unless he makes a significant jump in play. He’s had his issues in coverage as well as tackling, and grades out as an above average 72.4 on PFF; that’s a perfectly fine number but not on a 12 and a half million dollar cap hit.

Jefferson will really need to step up, otherwise a promising youngster like DeShon Elliot could end up taking his place. Elliot and Chuck Clark are intriguing options at the position, and could if nothing else take over the hybrid Anthony Levine role if he isn’t retained at the end of his current contract.

Let us know how you think the safety position will shake out this offseason.