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Best of the rest: Remaining free agent DB fits for the Ravens

There is still talent to be had and deals to be made for defensive backs now that the free agency frenzy has subsided.

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The new league year officially opened up last week and the open market has already been picked clean of the top tier talent. However, now that the frenzy has subsided, there are still veteran players at some of the Baltimore Ravens’ positions of need that are available and could be had on affordable deals.

Below is a list of players that fit the Ravens or could at least come in to provide depth and fill a defined role in secondary. They are in need of depth at safety to utilize the dime defense more efficiently as well as a reliable backup at slot corner with starting nickel Tavon Young coming off another major injury.

CB/S Brian Poole – 2020 team: New York Jets, 2020 stats: 2 interceptions, 7 pass deflections, and 61.6 opposing QBR.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Jets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The fifth-year pro is the most versatile defensive back on this list and could fill both of the aforementioned needs for the Ravens with one roster spot if signed because he is a corner/safety hybrid that can play slot corner, nickel safety, and dime linebacker. He was rumored as a possible trade target for the Ravens at the midseason trade deadline and according to multiple reports, a deal was nearly finalized.

Poole, unfortunately, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury a week after the deadline but was playing well as the Jets’ starting nickel corner through the first nine games of the season. He played well in coverage, made plays on the ball, and was an effective blitzer as evidenced by his sack and two quarterback hits.

CB Buster Skrine – 2020 team: Chicago Bears, 2020 stats: 1 forced fumble, 3 pass deflections, and 125.7 opposing QBR.

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The 10-year veteran isn’t the standout slot cover man he once was at 31-years old. His underwhelming overall grade of 52.3 by Pro Football Focus not only reflected just that but made the decision by the Bears to cut him completely understandable. However, at this stage in his career, he can still contribute on special teams, which the Ravens value, and provide quality depth behind a healthy—knock on wood—Young once he’s fully recovered.

S Malik Hooker – 2020 team: Indianapolis Colts, 2020 stats: 7 total tackles.

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The former first-round pick played in just two games last year and gave up a 15-yard touchdown catch in coverage before suffering yet another season-ending injury. His checkered injury history is a serious concern but his talent is undeniable.

While he shouldn’t be relied upon to play a significant amount of playing time on defense, he could really shine and be impactful if featured in a limited role in the backend. He is a natural free safety and his presence would allow Martindale the schematic flexibility to utilize the dime defense more effectively.

CB Nickell Robey-Coleman – 2020 team: Philadelphia Eagles, 2020 stats: 1 forced fumble, 1 pass deflections, and 125.2 opposing QBR.

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The eight-year veteran was seemingly destined to play slot corner with a name like Nickell and then there are his physical measurables at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds. He is coming off a down year where he earned a PFF overall grade of 51.1 after four straight years of finishing with a grade of higher than 70.

His dip in performance in 2020 can be more attributed to the overall lack of team success and cohesion on both sides of the ball than an indication that the 29-year-old has lost a step or fallen off completely.

Robey-Coleman won’t command a high salary and wouldn’t count against the comp pick formula either if he is signed after the impact deadline. He’d be an experienced insurance policy behind Young if he were to suffer another injury setback in his rehab process.

CB Mackensie Alexander – 2020 team: Cincinnati Bengals, 2020 stats: one interception, 6 pass deflections, and 82.3 opposing QBR.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The fifth-year pro has been a solid slot option throughout his young career and in his lone season with the Ravens’ division rivals, he earned a respectable 60.4 overall grade from PFF. He made a career-high 10 starts and played a career-high 642 defensive snaps last season. Alexander might not want to accept a lesser role at this point in the offseason but if he remains on the open market until he no longer counts against the compensatory pick formula, he’d be a solid post-draft depth option.

S Duron Harmon – 2020 team: Detroit Lions, 2020 stats: 2 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, and 73 total tackles.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The eight-year veteran spent most of his career prior to last season as a rotational player in the backend. Even though he was a solid starter for the Lions in his lone year with the team after getting traded from New England last offseason, he is part of the mid-tier class of salary-cap casualties that will likely have to take short-term deals for around the veteran minimum to play in 2021.

Harmon was on three Super Bowl-winning teams with the Patriots and possess good ball skills. He has recorded at least one interception every year that he has been in the league including six seasons of two or more. He can play both safety spots but would likely be best utilized in a single high role in sub-packages with the Ravens and would be a more durable option than Hooker.