Ravens Free Agency: Why Making a Splash for Marcus Williams Is the Perfect Tone-Setter

After being radio silent for nearly the first 24 hours of free agency, the Baltimore Ravens finally made a splash. General manager Eric DeCosta and the front office entered the offseason with several pressing needs. They just addressed one of the biggest by signing Marcus Williams.

The former New Orleans Saints safety fills a void that plagued the Ravens throughout the 2021 season. John Harbaugh’s squad finished in disappointing fashion, but moves like this could lead to a significant turnaround in 2022.

The addition of Williams could be a sign of an aggressive offseason for Baltimore.

The Ravens signed Marcus Williams to a 5-year, $70 million deal

Saints safety Marcus Williams signs with the Ravens in free agency
Marcus Williams of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Chicago Bears | Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Ravens desperately needed to add depth to their secondary, and they didn’t waste much time making a game-changing move.

According to ESPN‘s Jamison Hensley, Baltimore agreed to terms on a five-year, $70 million contract with safety Marcus Williams. The deal includes $37 million in 2022 and $31 million in the next year.

Williams, a former second-round pick out of Utah, blossomed into one of the NFL‘s best safeties with the New Orleans Saints.

The Pomona, California native recorded 320 tackles, 38 passes defended, 15 interceptions, three forced fumbles in 76 games in New Orleans.

Williams is infamously known for giving up a game-winning Stefon Diggs touchdown in the playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. However, he was a rookie then, and now he’s a much different player.

Pro Football Focus gave the Saints star a grade of 80.1 for the 2021 season. He continues to get better, and now, he’ll join a potential contender in the AFC.

The former Saints safety fills a glaring need for Baltimore

The Ravens couldn’t afford not to address the secondary in the offseason. Former defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s unit finished dead last against the pass in 2021. Baltimore surrendered 278.9 passing yards per game to opposing offenses and 31 touchdowns on the year.

Injuries decimated the entire locker room, but especially in the secondary. All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters tore his ACL before the season opener, while Marlon Humphrey suffered a torn pectoral muscle midseason, which sidelined him the rest of the way. DeShon Elliott also went down to a season-ending injury, and cornerbacks Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith also missed time.

Assuming Peters and Humphrey are back healthy, the Ravens’ pass defense should improve in 2022. Marcus Williams’ presence further solidifies that notion.

With Elliott being a free agent, Williams slides into the free safety role next to strong safety Chuck Clark. The former Saints standout is a ballhawk. He allowed a 54.2 passer rating in coverage in 2021, allowing eight receptions and one touchdown while picking off two passes.

Baltimore hasn’t had a true playmaking safety since Ed Reed. While Williams isn’t the Hall the Famer, he can be a difference-maker for this team.

What’s next for general manager Eric DeCosta?

Eric DeCosta and the front office have done a solid job of improving the Ravens roster so far in free agency. Marcus Williams was a fantastic pickup on defense. Baltimore also bolstered its offensive line by signing New York Jets offensive tackle Morgan Moses.

While the front office has already made two noteworthy moves, don’t expect the Ravens to sit on their hands for the rest of the offseason.

The Ravens currently have $14.6 million in cap space. DeCosta could be planning another move, as the roster has a few other significant holes. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to see Baltimore continue to add depth to the secondary and offensive line. Both units looked rough in 2021, and the Ravens want to ensure they don’t have the same problems in 2022.

Baltimore also needs to address the front seven. DeCosta wants to get younger up front, but several notable veterans are available in free agency. It’s hard to imagine the front office passing up on Von Miller, Chandler Jones, or Bobby Wagner if the price is right. A reunion with Za’Darius Smith also makes plenty of sense.

The Ravens front office usually drafts exceptionally well, but more free agency moves could be coming. John Harbaugh and company have bad taste in their mouths and want to get rid of it with a Super Bowl victory.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference 

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