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Ravens add veteran cornerback Brandon Carr to secondary

Posted on 16 March 2017 by Luke Jones

Having stated the goal of improving their secondary this offseason, the Ravens have made their second significant addition to that group by agreeing to a four-year deal with cornerback Brandon Carr.

The former Dallas Cowboy and Kansas City Chief has started every game of his nine-year career and has never missed a contest, a level of durability that the Ravens likely value after countless injuries in the secondary in recent years. The six-foot, 210-pound cornerback will turn 31 in May and is likely to serve as an outside corner opposite Jimmy Smith with Tavon Young defending the slot in the nickel package.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Carr will be signing a one-year contract with a subsequent options that could make the deal worth $24 million over four seasons. Such a structure makes sense when signing a player entering his 10th year in the NFL.

The 2008 fifth-round pick out of Grand Valley State collected 61 tackles, one interception, and nine pass breakups for the Cowboys last season. He has intercepted 15 passes in his career.

“This is a good football player,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement released by the team. “We got better today.”

The move comes after the Ravens had shown interest in Carr’s former teammate, Morris Claiborne, who agreed to terms with the New York Jets on Thursday. A disappointing former first-round pick from LSU, the 27-year-old Claiborne appeared to finally put it together from a performance standpoint last season, but he has never been able to stay healthy and has missed 33 games in five professional seasons. Claiborne is four years younger and has a higher ceiling, but Carr has the higher floor with his dependability over the years.

Carr was graded by Pro Football Focus as the 51st-best cornerback in the NFL and ranked 44th in Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 system last season. He’s never made the Pro Bowl in his long career, but Carr had the reputation for being a great teammate and a solid player in Dallas.

With his signing, the Ravens continue to make defense their top priority this offseason after signing Arizona safety Tony Jefferson to a four-year, $34 million contract and re-signing nose tackle Brandon Williams to a five-year, $52.5 million deal last week.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts after first wave of free agency

Posted on 14 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With the first wave of NFL free agency in the rear-view mirror, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts on the Ravens, each in 50 words or less:

1. Some may scoff at the emotion shown by Brandon Williams after signing a five-year, $52.5 million contract, but his right to maximize his earnings doesn’t mean staying in Baltimore wasn’t important to him. You could also see how happy general manager Ozzie Newsome was during Monday’s press conference.

2. Kudos to Williams for paying tribute to the late Clarence Brooks for his impact on the nose tackle’s career. The 28-year-old said the longtime defensive line coach saw everything that he could be and envisioned this happening for him one day. Brooks is definitely missed.

3. The addition of Tony Jefferson could really help in trying to replace linebacker Zach Orr. If the Ravens add a complementary third safety, defensive coordinator Dean Pees could use Jefferson as a dime in passing situations and minimize the need for a three-down linebacker, which is more difficult to find.

4. Major investments have been made in the defense, but you hope Newsome has more than couch change to address a Ravens offense that was summarily broken in 2016 and has lost key pieces. The hiring of Greg Roman will help the running game, but that only goes so far.

5. I’ll give the Ravens the benefit of the doubt at right tackle, but color me skeptical about wide receiver with free-agent options dwindling and prices having not been all that outrageous. Being underprepared at the position doomed Baltimore in 2013 and 2015, and you hope that odd-year trend doesn’t continue.

6. The Anthony Levine re-signing didn’t receive much attention, but losing the likes of Orr and fullback Kyle Juszczyk hurt the special teams and Levine has been a core contributor to Jerry Rosburg’s units.

7. I’m intrigued by the addition of the diminutive Danny Woodhead, who can do some of the things Juszczyk provided despite the obvious difference in size. The Ravens view Woodhead as a potential playmaker, but he’s also 32 and coming off major knee surgery, leaving some substantial unknown.

8. The fascination with free-agent cornerback Morris Claiborne is baffling with the former Dallas Cowboy missing 41 percent of games over his five-year career and having underperformed until 2016. Barring a cheap price tag — multiple teams are interested — this feels like a fool’s gold signing.

9. The Ravens loudly reconfirmed their longtime philosophy of being strong up the middle defensively with the financial commitments made to Williams and Jefferson, but I still wonder if that thinking needs to be adjusted in today’s NFL. Fortunately, this year’s draft is rich with edge rushers and cornerbacks.

10. He’s not a No. 1 receiver, but teams are sleeping on Kamar Aiken compared to some other receivers who’ve already signed. He wasn’t keen on returning to Baltimore at the end of 2016 after being underutilized, but the Ravens could do worse than bringing back their leading receiver from 2015.

11. The Ravens have had some players recruit free agents in the past, but you have to be impressed with the efforts of Eric Weddle after just one year with the organization. He’s one of those rare veterans whom you wish could have been a Raven for his entire career.

12. Lardarius Webb is a prime example of some of the tough luck the Ravens have experienced in recent years. He was Baltimore’s best defensive player in 2012 before suffering the second ACL injury of his career six months after signing a six-year, $50 million contract. He was never the same.

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