With DeShon Elliott hitting free agency after a season-ending injury in 2021, the Baltimore Ravens will be looking for a new safety during the offseason, with potential targets in both free agency and the draft.
Though 2021 third-round pick Brandon Stephens made huge strides in his 11 starts in Elliott’s place, the Ravens may want to bring in some competition for the starting job alongside Chuck Clark.
While Patrick Queen has been recruiting Tyrann Mathieu from the Kansas City Chiefs, the veteran All-Pro might be too expensive for the cash-strapped Ravens.
Instead, Baltimore could look to rescue 2017 second-round pick Marcus Maye from New York, with Heavy’s Michael Obermuller writing on February 11 that the five-year veteran is not expected to return to the Jets.
The Ravens might then pursue Maye as a cheaper alternative to Mathieu, who could command as much as $15 million per year in free agency.
Though Maye earned $10 million from the Jets on the franchise tag last year, per Spotrac, a down year ended by a torn Achilles in November could make him receptive to a short-term ‘prove-it’ deal for around $7 million per year.
Maye Linked With Ravens
CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani listed Maye as a priority free agent signing for the Ravens, who surrendered the most passing yards in the NFL in 2021.
“It’s no secret that Marcus Maye wants out of New York, and this offseason it could happen,” wrote Dajani on February 25. “Baltimore needs help in the secondary at cornerback and safety, and signing a true ballhawk like Maye at free safety would immediately improve this defense.”
The Ravens have been willing to take chances on players coming off major injuries in the past – like 2021 signing Ja’Wuan James, who could be an option at right tackle in 2022 – so his Achilles rupture shouldn’t scare off Baltimore’s general manager, Eric DeCosta.
May wouldn’t be as splashy of a signing as Mathieu, but he could still bring solid value to a Ravens defense in need of a playmaking safety.
Maye Could Fill Deep Safety Role in Baltimore
The Ravens already have three safeties with starting experience on their roster in Clark, Stephens and the recently re-signed Tony Jefferson, but they lack a true ballhawking safety. In fact, their entire defense struggled to create turnovers in 2021, finishing with just 15 takeaways, the fourth-fewest in the league.
While the returns of Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters from season-ending injuries will address that issue – as would the addition of a top-tier pass rusher in free agency or the draft – Maye has had a nose for the ball throughout his career.
Though his official career statistics – six interceptions and 24 passes defended – Maye was also only targeted 98 times over his five seasons, per Pro Football Focus. That indicates that his ball production is actually pretty consistent when he is targeted, which he would be playing with two All-Pros in Peters and Humphrey.
Though Maye earned a career-low 49.9 coverage grade from PFF in 2021, that’s partially because he spent more time in the box than anywhere else. He first flashed in 2019 before thriving in 2020 with a vast majority of his snaps as a deep free safety, earning an 85.8 coverage grade that was fourth among all NFL safeties, ahead of free agents like Mathieu and the Saints’ Marcus Williams.
If Maye’s medicals check out, the Ravens might see him as a value signing to bolster a secondary that was among the league’s best heading into last season.