Free Agent Safeties the Ravens Should Consider

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“I think we need to have a more athletic safety in the defense.” — Ozzie Newsome

At the Ravens’ year-end press conference in early January, Newsome spoke at length about which types of players the Ravens will target in order to ensure the disappointment of 2013 doesn’t become a pattern in 2014.

Wide receivers and offensive linemen are positions we’ve already looked at in past weeks. So now as we’re one day away from the beginning of free agency, let’s take a look at that third and final position Newsome alluded to: free safety.

For 11 years Ed Reed roamed the back end of Baltimore’s defense with legendary range and instinct, so this is kind of new territory for Ravens personnel. Ideally, if they acquire a free safety, the Ravens can move Matt Elam back to his natural position (strong safety). When you look at the best teams in any sport, they have players playing in their natural positions without having to “force it” at another position just to fill a need.

Here are three players that will be officially available tomorrow at 4 P.M. ET that I think will fit the Ravens budget, personality and defensive scheme.


Jairus Byrd (Buffalo Bills)

Age: 27

2013 stats: 48 tackles, 6 passes defensed, 4 interceptions, 1.0 sack, 1 forced fumble

2013 cap hit: $6.916 million

Team’s overall defensive rank: 10th

Why he should come to Baltimore: At 5’10″ and 203 pounds, Jairus Byrd is the smallest of these safeties, but he may bring the biggest impact. Byrd flies to the football in both the pass game and the run game. This three-time Pro Bowler won’t back down when going against bigger players and tries to score whenever he touches the ball.

That sounds like a Raven to me.


Malcolm Jenkins (New Orleans Saints)

Age: 26

2013 stats: 68 tackles, 6 passes defensed, 2 interceptions, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

2013 cap hit: $4.032 million

Team’s overall defensive rank: 4th

Why he should come to Baltimore: He’s an enforcer, a very effective blitzer and a Super Bowl champion. He also shows impressive agility as he can tackle from multiple angles. Jenkins reminds me of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu with his passion and style of play, but is two inches taller and six years younger than Polamalu.


Mike Mitchell (Carolina Panthers)

Age: 26

2013 stats: 66 tackles, 8 passes defensed, 4 interceptions, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

2013 cap hit: $1 million

Team’s overall defensive rank: 2nd

Why he should come to Baltimore: Of these three players, Mike Mitchell had the best 2013 campaign while playing on the second-best defense in football. He signed a one-year, $1 million contract with Carolina after playing his first four seasons in Oakland. He knows what it means to play determined, physical football.

Mitchell played his college ball at Ohio University, which is three hours east of where John Harbaugh played his college ball (Miami (OH)). If Harbaugh wants a reference on Mitchell, he can ask Hugh Jackson who was Mitchell’s head coach in Oakland during the 2011 season (Jackson coached under Harbaugh in Baltimore from 2008-09).

Each of these players would probably be a good fit in Baltimore. They all play with a high level of swagger and physicality. They’ve all played on very good defenses. Like Baltimore, they’ve played in divisional games against premier talent.

Mitchell is the one with the least amount of ties to his current team and figures to be the most affordable in 2014. Jenkins is in his prime and is coming off of his best all-around season to date. While he may cost the most, Byrd is probably the best free safety available.

Tuesday afternoon can’t get here soon enough.

Which of these free agent free safeties would you prefer most for the Ravens?
Jairus Byrd (44%)
Malcolm Jenkins (19%)
Mike Mitchell (32%)
None of the above (5%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
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About Mike Fast

Mike Fast
I was born and raised in Baltimore. But after a year at York College of Pennsylvania, I transferred to Towson University. At York and Towson, I hosted various radio shows, wrote for the school paper, spoke on a panel RE: college game day presentation at IBS conference in Manhattan and...more

8 Raves on “Free Agent Safeties the Ravens Should Consider

  1. Timpo on said:

    I would love Byrd.. but his cost is gonna be super high unless he goes to a team he wants to play at.
    The Bills are losing someone special.

  2. John P on said:

    If you put thirty WSR articles in front of me, I’d still have no problem pointing out which article was written by Mike.

    This article lacks depth. We all know these are 3 players, and we all know they’re good. The article says Byrd is the best, but that Mitchell had the best 2013 campaign. What’s the distinguishing factor then? 2012? Do we even care about 2012? Is it the fact that teams were afraid of Byrd? Or maybe because teams were running at Buffalo because they had the lead?

    Where are the highlights of each so we can see what they’re capable of doing? Maybe even a still image with graphics highlighting what they did well?

    Last, but not least – what’s the expected price for each of them? We know Byrd will be the most expensive, but by how much? Isn’t value what drives our front office?

  3. Jay on said:

    Of this list of course the clear answer is Jairus Byrd. If we can’t get him tho, and I know this may sound crazy, I wouldn’t be against taking a flier on Antonio Cromartie. He has great size and ball skills, I think it would be a seamless transition and worth a try.

  4. ken L on said:

    Mitchell has the best statistics for 2013. in comparison of the 3 players, his numbers are actually the best. Tackles-2nd (66) Jenkins-1st (68) Passes defensed-1st (8) Interceptions- Tied 1st(4) Byrd-Tied (4) Sacks-1st (3.5) Forced Fumbles- Tied for 1st (2) Jenkins- Tied 1st (2). Now financially his 2013, his cap hit was ONLY 1 million $$$, while Byrds was 6.916 million $$$ and Jenkins was 4.032 million $$$. In the 5 categories they are rated , he either was 1st or tied for 1st in 4 of the categories, finishing 2nd in the 5th His still young, his aggressive , more affordable and should be the choice of the ravens

  5. slinger on said:

    I would like to see them give Omar Brown a chance. He plays well in preseason heck the other players call him baby ed reed yet our coaches never put him in a real game to see what he can do. If he plays poorly take him out and put someone else in but he deserves a change IMHO

  6. Bruce_Almty on said:

    Omar Brown, Brynden Trawick or a draft pick seem to be the route Ravens are taking. Will be interesting to see if we go after a FA FS.

    PS: this reCAPTCHA system SUCKS.

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