After a quiet first day of legal tampering, the Ravens make a splash in free agency on the second day, signing free safety Marcus Williams to a 5-year deal.
So far, a flurry of moves around the league has occurred unofficially, as the legal tampering period began on Monday at noon ET. With the first and second day of the two-day negotiating period gone and passed, there are still plenty of names of note to garner interest around the NFL by a plethora of teams. Wednesday should headline more free-agent signings, as NFL free agency and the new league year officially starts at 4 pm ET.
The Baltimore Ravens have notable holes to fill in their depth chart and should address a few of those positions in free agency. Last week, Tavon Young was released and Alejandro Villanueva retired, freeing up some cap space to total $16 million or so to spend this year (according to Spotrac). So at least one big splash was possible and even though they could bring back a few of their own guys, later on, another signing or trade coming is not out of the question.
With the rest of the AFC North is staying busy this offseason, with the Cleveland Browns trading for Amari Cooper over the weekend and the Pittsburgh Steelers signing Mitch Trubisky, the Ravens make a move of their own by signing former New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams. Justin Reid signing with the Kansas City Chiefs late Monday night was the first big move in the safety market, as the former Houston Texans safety will go and replace Tyrann Mathieu, who is still a free agent. Baltimore gets their rangy centerfielder that they were sorely missing last year in Williams.
According to Jeremy Fowler and Adam Schefter of ESPN, Marcus Williams signed to a five-year deal with the Ravens; as he will make around $14 mil per year that is worth about $70 mil total, with $37 mil guaranteed, unofficially.
The 25-year-old free safety (26 in September) will now become a leader in the secondary. Adding Williams would immediately give the Ravens a true free safety as the new starter for a defense that is now run by new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. This would allow Chuck Clark to play more strong safety and Brandon Stephens (3rd round rookie from SMU last year) to play more slot cornerback, giving Baltimore some scheme flexibility with their versatile defense.
Williams played on the franchise tag last season for the Saints and will now be paid like a top ten safety for the Ravens, and deservingly so, as a coverage specialist with the ball production to boot. The former 2nd round pick from Utah (2017 NFL Draft) has started every game he has played in his five-year career with the Saints (76 games and has stayed relatively healthy). The 6’1″ 195 pound safety brings durability to the position and gives Baltimore more chances to turn the ball over with his range, instincts, and playmaking ability.
With 15 career interceptions and 38 pass deflections, Marcus Williams coming to Baltimore is the huge signing that could help a secondary that was devastated with injuries in 2021. Their secondary gave up the most passing yards, but both Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters suffered season-ending injuries. If the Ravens can allocate even more assets to an already highly invested secondary, they should have the depth and be more equipped to deal with the likes of the receivers in the AFC North (especially the Cincinnati Bengals trio of wide receivers).
The Ravens addressing safety in free agency is more reason to believe they will look to address either cornerback, an offensive lineman, or anywhere in the front seven in the NFL Draft. This draft class is deep at edge rusher and offensive tackle, which are arguably the biggest needs for Baltimore currently. But with the value of the draft at those positions at the top and with the signing of Morgan Moses, it looks like cornerback could be the way to go if the run of pass rushers and offensive tackles goes earlier than pick 14, especially if Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner or Derek Stingley end up falling to their selection in the first round.