The 2022 offseason is well underway and the new league year is upon us. With an increased salary cap of $208.2 million for the 2022 season, the Baltimore Ravens will have more monetary resources to fortify their roster ahead of the draft next month.
The unrestricted free agent market will feature several quality to elite players at several of their top positions of need, as well as some that are under the radar but vital nonetheless. In this article, I’ll be breaking down free agent candidates that the Ravens can explore at safety.
Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs
The three-time All-Pro is at the top of every Ravens fans free agency wish list and has been regularly projected as a perfect fit for the team to address arguably their biggest need. After opting to sign Earl Thomas over Mathieu three years ago in his first offseason as General Manager, Eric DeCosta has a second chance to bring him in. He is exactly what the Ravens are missing in their secondary and haven’t had since they released Eric Weddle following the 2018 season.
His ability to play both safety and nickel cornerback would not only fill the void at free safety, but he’d be able to help offset the loss in the slot of Tavon Young who was released last week. Mathieu started all 16 games he appeared in and recorded 76 total tackles including two for loss, one sack, two quarterback hits, three fumble recoveries, six pass deflections, and three interceptions including one returned for a touchdown.
According to spotrac.com, Mathieu is projected to garner a three-year contract worth $44.6 million with an average annual salary of $14.8 million.
Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints
Even though he has yet to be voted to a Pro Bowl or earn a spot on an All-Pro first or second team, the fifth-year pro will be one the top players at the position on the market and command a hefty salary nonetheless. Williams is a steadying presence in the back end that can cover a lot of ground, possess good ball skills, and is a consistent tackler which are all attributes the Ravens need at the other safety spot next to Chuck Clark.
He has started every game of his career to date including all 16 that he appeared in last season. In 2021, Williams recorded a career-high 74 total tackles, one forced fumble, two interceptions, and eight pass deflections. While he is not as high-profiled or highly-touted as Mathieu, he could still have just as profound of an impact on the field.
According to spotrac.com, Williams is projected to garner a five-year contract worth $75.2 million with an average annual salary of $15 million.
Marcus Maye, New York Jets
If the Ravens strike out on both Williams and Mathieu or don’t want to pay top dollar at the position, the fifth-year pro is a more inexpensive option with proven pedigree and many of the same alluring traits as the aforementioned pending free agents. After being franchise-tagged by the Jets last offseason, Maye was on pace for the best statistical season of his career before he suffered a torn Achilles tendon after six games in 2021.
In his last full season the year before, he recorded career-highs across the board with 88 total tackles including four for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and two quarterback hits. The Ravens could likely get him on a one-year prove-it deal that’s below market value and very affordable.
According to spotrac.com, Maye is projected to garner a one-year contract worth $7.4 million.
Quandre Diggs, Seattle Seahawks
Just like Maye, the eight-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler will be coming off an injury but he started all 17 games before suffering a broken fibula in the regular-season finale. Before going down, Diggs was having another stellar season where he recorded a career-high 94 total tackles, seven pass deflections, and five interceptions for the second straight year. He is a rangy and hard-hitting defensive back who can be both an eraser and enforcer in the secondary as well as bring excellent veteran leadership.
According to spotrac.com, Diggs is projected to garner a three-year contract worth $36.5 million with an average annual salary of $12.1 million.
Matthew Stafford hitting a WIDE open Quandre Diggs pic.twitter.com/Jt6QEKqESl— PFF (@PFF) December 22, 2021
Justin Reid, Houston Texans
The fourth-year pro is coming off another solid season and is hitting the open market for the first time in his career. In his third straight year as a full-time starter, Reid appeared and started in 13 games and recorded 66 total tackles including two for loss, two interceptions, four pass deflections, and one forced fumble. He won’t command as high of an average annual salary as the players at the positions listed above him but Reid could still provide an upgrade at the position over DeShon Elliott because, in addition to being a big hitter, he also possesses superior ball skills and durability.
Wow, this is a fantastic play from Justin Reid.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 12, 2020
Shows off great range and pulls off a clean hit to jar the ball loose from Tyreek Hill.pic.twitter.com/D9TQuhCCZg
Xavier Woods, Minnesota Vikings
The fifth-year pro is one of the under-the-radar playmakers slated to hit the open market and he possesses the positional versatility that the Ravens covet. He is a natural free safety that can make plays on the ball as well as come down in the box and make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage. He’s been a full-time starter since his second season in the league with the Dallas Cowboys and he thrived in his lone season in Minnesota as well.
In 2021, Woods recorded a career-high 108 total tackles including one for a loss, one sack, one quarterback hit, two forced fumbles, 10 pass deflections, and three interceptions in 17 games. Despite coming off his best season to date, he is still expected to be the most affordable option on this entire list.
According to spotrac.com, Woods is projected to garner a four-year contract worth $17.2 million with an average annual salary of $4.3 million.