With the legal tampering period for free agency set to begin less than 24 hours from now, all 32 teams in the NFL will be scrambling to get deals in place with free agents.
The Ravens will have decisions to finalize on their own pending free agents, including center Bradley Bozeman, defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive tackle Brandon Williams, outside linebacker Justin Houston, cornerbacks Anthony Averett, Jimmy Smith, and Chris Westry, fullback Patrick Ricard, and safety DeShon Elliott.
Most of the talk surrounding free agency with the Ravens has centered around whether they will bring back Bozeman and Campbell. Also, if they will look to the market to upgrade at free safety with players such as Marcus Williams, Marcus Maye, Justin Reid, and Tyrann Mathieu all available. With a lack of quality depth on the offensive line, defensive line, and at cornerback, should Baltimore instead re-sign Elliott to pair with Chuck Clark once again instead of making a splash at the safety position in free agency?
Elliott was drafted by the Ravens out of Texas with the No. 190 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The promising First-Team All-Big 12 safety and Unanimous All-American had to wait until his third season in the NFL to get his chance to shine on the field after injuries ended his first two seasons.
Following the release of Earl Thomas just before the start of the 2020 season, Elliott was thrust into a starting role after only playing in six regular-season games in the two seasons prior. The moment was not too big for the former sixth-round pick, as Elliott went on to start in all 16 games that season while becoming an important piece in Baltimore’s secondary.
Just as things were looking up for Elliott, he suffered yet another season-ending injury in 2021 on November 8 against the Minnesota Vikings. Over his first four seasons, Elliott has suffered a season-ending forearm injury, knee injury, and biceps injury. He will now test the market after starting 22 games for the Ravens in those four seasons.
Baltimore’s safety group without Elliott currently includes Clark, Brandon Stephens, Geno Stone, Tony Jefferson, and Ar’Darius Washington. Stephens, a third-round pick in 2021, filled in for Elliott following his injury and played admirably for a rookie. Stone flashed potential as well, even snagging an interception against Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Washington missed most of last season with a foot injury but was a promising prospect after making the team as an undrafted free agent.
PFF’s contract projection for Elliott this offseason is a one-year, $5.25 million deal. With several holes along the roster and not enough cap space to adequately address them all, the Ravens would likely be better off betting on their younger options at safety or spending extra money for a clear upgrade at the position instead of re-signing Elliott — especially factoring in his unfortunate injury history.