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The Ravens should sign DeShon Elliott to a contract extension

A potential sneaky move that could pay dividends.

NFL: JAN 03 Ravens at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As it pertains to contract extensions in Baltimore, most of the chatter this offseason has surrounded Lamar Jackson — and rightly so. Other cornerstone offensive pieces like Mark Andrews and Bradley Bozeman have also garnered some speculation.

However, a player who may be flying under the radar a bit is DeShon Elliott. Like Jackson, Andrews, and Bozeman, Elliott was drafted by the Ravens in 2018. He was selected just 25 picks before Bozeman in the sixth round. Elliott too is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the Ravens could be wise to seek locking him up long-term now.

No, Elliott is not the organization’s franchise quarterback like Jackson, nor is he the top pass-catching option on the roster like Andrews. He also has not started 32 straight games like Bozeman, either. Even so, there are more reasons to extend his contract than not.

One of the more under-the-radar stories from the 2020 season for the Ravens was Elliott’s emergence. Prior to this past year, Elliott had played just six total games in two seasons due to multiple season-ending injuries. Then, all of a sudden, he found himself thrust into a starting role on defense just weeks before the season opener against the Browns.

This was of course happened because of Earl Thomas’ departure from the team, but the Ravens were high on Elliott’s potential long before that. Nobody expected him to start over Thomas or Chuck Clark in 2020, though, but a rotational role in the secondary seemed like a reasonable scenario.

Instead, Elliott seamlessly slid into the vacant starting position left by Thomas and the Ravens defense largely did not miss a beat. Elliott quickly became an invaluable chess piece in the defensive backfield alongside Clark. Between his hard-hitting style and rangy athleticism, Elliott’s versatility was apparent week in and week out.

He’s not the same ball-hawking presence that Thomas was, but Elliott brought more juice to the table and was more impactful against the run. It would have been fair to expect some growing pains in his first year of starting. Instead, Elliott rarely if ever was responsible for lapses in coverage, blown assignments, or missed tackles.

Most importantly, he finally stayed healthy — and fortunately did so when the Ravens needed him the most. Elliott played ten more games in 2020 (16) than he had previously in his entire two-year career. He handled a sizeable workload, too, playing over 1,000 snaps on defense for the season.

Elliott will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. With another strong campaign in 2021 similar to that of last season, his value on the market could increase substantially. At that time, Elliott will still be just 24 years old with minimal mileage under him.

Defensive backs are a high commodity in today’s NFL. The Ravens would be smart to pursue the opportunity to extend Elliott this offseason to avoid the chance that he prices himself out of the Ravens’ range next year. In all likelihood, they could lock him into a multi-year deal right now. This would also eliminate the potential mess of trying to extend all four of Jackson, Andrews, Bozeman, and Elliott in the span of a few months.

Of course, there is some risk involved. Elliott’s injury history and lack of starting experience may cause some to be hesitant to give him a big contract. The Ravens themselves may want to see one more year out of him before making that decision.

The counter arguments, though, are plenty. Elliott is an ascending, homegrown talent who plays a premium position. Since Eric DeCosta took over as General Manager, he’s made it a point to keep players that fit this description in-house for the long haul. Elliott fits the bill.

Poll

Should the Ravens extend DeShon Elliott this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Yes!
    (375 votes)
  • 10%
    Nope
    (52 votes)
  • 17%
    Not sure
    (90 votes)
517 votes total Vote Now