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Kyle Fuller Brings Depth With Potential Big Upside

Kyle Fuller Bears
photo: Chicago Bears
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The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to a deal with free-agent cornerback, Kyle Fuller.

This is a move that would have felt a lot more exciting a couple of years ago. The two-time Pro Bowl player had seven interceptions in the 2018 season. While it would be more exciting to get that version of Fuller, than the player who had an up and down 2021 with the Denver Broncos, it’s still a move Ravens fans can be excited about.

The Ravens have two elite cornerbacks when Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey are healthy. The rest of the cornerback group, while immensely talented, was fairly unproven. Before this signing, the Ravens had a second-year player in Brandon Stephens, two 2022 NFL Draft fourth-round picks, and a couple of last resort fill-ins from this past season behind the top two cornerbacks.

At worst, signing Fuller adds to the Ravens’ depth at this position. The best-case scenario is that Fuller revitalizes his career and becomes an extra takeaway artist for the secondary. Expectations are usually best set somewhere in the middle. Fuller may not be the star he once was, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t fit right in. He’ll be a helpful tool for a secondary that already did a lot of retooling this offseason.

Fuller is an experienced cornerback who doesn’t necessarily need to play over the slot. This allows the Ravens to use Fuller and Humphrey fairly interchangeably. Having a third corner who can play inside or be a boundary corner is very helpful. The Ravens can probably count on Fuller more than they can a rookie. This kind of reminds me of the 2012 Ravens who had Jimmy Smith, Cary Williams, and, Corey Graham all holding their own at the cornerback. It doesn’t promise the same Super Bowl ending, but having something reminiscent of a Super Bowl team isn’t a bad thing.

While tempering your expectations to a reasonable level is a good idea, it’s also important to remember that Fuller isn’t washed up. He’s 30 years old, just one year older than Peters. Fuller has football left in the tank, and this will only be his eighth year in the league. Gaining a player who is seasoned by a strong NFL career is a luxury for a team signing what is essentially their number three cornerback.

That makes the signing a fairly easy sell. The Ravens are getting a role player with versatility and experience.

Loading up in the secondary is never a bad option. Historically, the game has given the Ravens very harsh lessons when they were short on corners. In 2014 the Ravens gave up two leads to the New England Patriots in the playoffs, all because they were down to next to nobody in the secondary. It didn’t matter that Joe Flacco was having a career year under the tutelage of Gary Kubiak, the Ravens couldn’t dream of stopping Tom Brady in that game.

This past season we saw the Bengals basically scrimmaging against air while Robert Jackson and Kevon Seymour struggled to keep up with the best receiver corps in the NFL. That can’t happen again. Joe Burrow can’t be allowed to go off for over 500 passing yards and four easy touchdowns against this team ever again. Quality depth at cornerback prevents nightmares like that.

It’s important to note that the Ravens are getting Peters and Humphrey back from major injuries. While a move like trading for James Bradberry wasn’t in the cards, doing nothing would have been a legitimate risk.

The secondary is one place you can never have enough talent. On offense, the first thing you notice is when the offensive line starts thinning out. On defense, it may be even more noticeable when the secondary is hurting for help. Eric DeCosta didn’t have to make an outlandish move; he just needed to add one more known commodity to the roster. The signing of Fuller is an appropriately-sized maneuver.

The Ravens have a habit of being a revitalizing landing spot for players who have already had storied careers in the league. Rod Woodson was already firmly a future Hall of Fame player when he signed with the Ravens in 1998. You could almost argue that Derrick Mason is known equally for his tenure with the Ravens as he is remembered for his time as a Tennessee Titan. Elvis Dumervil and Steve Smith Sr. had very memorable runs in Baltimore. Eric Weddle played for Baltimore for three seasons. In Weddle’s first two years in Baltimore, he racked up 10 interceptions.

The ceiling of bringing in Fuller would be helping a former All-Pro cornerback to find the magic all over again. The risk here is very minimal. It’s literally a move that can’t hurt at the very least. If Fuller gets back to his intercepting ways, he could end up being an X-Factor for the 2022 season.

It would be more exciting to be getting Fuller at the peak of his career and you can definitely talk yourself into being too excited for this signing. That being said, Fuller isn’t all that far removed from that peak. At the end of the day, this is a common-sense signing that should help the team.

Fans are allowed an appropriate level of excitement, and after the draft the Ravens just had, the Baltimore faithful should already be in good spirits.

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