Ravens Tipped to Add ‘Affordable’ All-Pro Opposite Marlon Humphrey

Marlon Humphrey

Getty The Baltimore Ravens are tipped to pair an All-Pro free agent CB with Marlon Humphrey.

The Baltimore Ravens don’t have the salary cap space to make a major splash in 2024 NFL free agency. Fortunately, general manager Eric DeCosta can still add All-Pro talent to his defense at an “affordable” price by pairing veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore with Marlon Humphrey.

That’s a move endorsed by Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports. He believes signing Gilmore from the Dallas Cowboys would represent “a more affordable defensive upgrade” than trying to bring back inside linebacker Patrick Queen.

Re-signing Queen will be a challenge because the Ravens have “already paid big bucks to Roquan Smith.” It means there’s a risk of breaking up a double act central to the Ravens’ strength on defense.

Putting Gilmore opposite fellow Pro Bowl cover man Humphrey would create another elite partnership. They would define a unit adapting to new leadership after last season’s defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald became head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Stephon Gilmore Still Playing at a High Level

Gilmore’s 33, but he’s still playing at a high level. The five-time Pro Bowler snatched a pair of interceptions and broke up 13 passes last season. He also allowed 53 completions from 95 targets, per Pro Football Reference.

More than numbers, Gilmore was still somebody his team could trust to matchup with an opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver. Like when he kept Philadelphia Eagles’ wideout A.J. Brown quiet in Week 14, per The 33rd Team.

Gilmore established himself as a matchup equalizer when he was named 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the New England Patriots. The Ravens could use a corner with his skills after being exploited by Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

Kelce burned Baltimore’s defense for 11 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. The nine-time Pro Bowl tight end caught every one his targets because the Ravens didn’t have the right matchup.

Gilmore would solve the problem and also force quarterbacks to target accomplished Humphrey more often. That’s a win-win for the Ravens and new defensive coordinator Zach Orr.

Marlon Humphrey is Still a Shutdown Cornerback

Humphrey thrived in Macdonald’s defense, despite missing seven games due to foot surgery and a calf problem. Injuries have been an issue, with No. 44 completing a full season just once during his seven-year career.

When he’s been on the field, Humphrey has played like a true shutdown cornerback. The 27-year-old allowed a 46.7 completion percentage last season and 64.6 quarterback rating.

Humphrey has always been comfortable in single coverage, even grading higher than Gilmore during the latter’s award-winning campaign, according to Pro Football Focus.

Having Humphrey and Gilmore on the same defense will put opposing passers in a bind. Targeting either too often wouldn’t be a formula for success.

Staying away from the outside and throwing to the middle of the field will also be a challenge given the Ravens’ strength at safety. Starters Kyle Hamilton and Geno Stone are opportunistic playmakers able to feast on errant throws between the hashmarks.

Reinforcing their existing strength on the back end by signing Gilmore can help the Ravens offset issues elsewhere across their defense.

Like Queen leaving the heart of the front seven, perhaps to reunite with Macdonald in Seattle. Or uncertainty about their edge-rushers with Jadeveon Clowney and others ticketed for free agency.

Read More