The Baltimore Ravens struggled defensively during the 2021 NFL season. One of the team’s most glaring weaknesses was defending the pass. That came as no surprise, given how depleted the secondary was by injuries. General manager Eric DeCosta and the front office will have some major decisions to make in the offseason. However, retaining All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters must be near the top of that list.
Eric DeCosta expects Marcus Peters to return to Baltimore in 2022
Baltimore Ravens fans didn’t get to see Marcus Peters play during the 2021 season due to a torn ACL he suffered in practice before the season opener. Head coach John Harbaugh anticipated Peters being a significant contributor again, but the injury ended his season before it started.
The seventh-year cornerback is under contract through 2022. However, the Ravens could save $10 million by releasing him. Considering the Washington product is 29 years old and coming off a significant injury, it wouldn’t be surprising if the team wanted to part ways. However, Eric DeCosta and company have other plans.
“I love Marcus,” said DeCosta per BaltimoreRavens.com‘s Ryan Mink. “I talk to Marcus quite a bit. Marcus is one of these guys that, when he comes to the organization, he provides such an authentic perspective on what this game’s all about. And he’s a Raven.”
DeCosta seems to have high expectations for the team in 2022, and he envisions Peters being part of the ride.
“So I would expect Marcus to be here,” he added. “I think he’s doing his rehab. I think he’s doing extremely well and I can’t wait to see him.”
Why the All-Pro corner should be high priority for the Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens went on a six-game losing streak to close out the season. The injury bug bit the locker room hard, but especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The secondary lost three key starters in Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, and DeShon Elliott. As a result, Baltimore’s pass defense took a significant hit. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale had to put a makeshift lineup on the field for most of the second half of the season.
The Ravens finished the season last in the league in pass defense. The unit allowed 278.9 yards per game and 31 touchdowns through the air to opposing offenses. It’s difficult to imagine those same results if Baltimore was at full strength.
Peters is a game-changer for the Ravens defense. He turns defense into offense. The three-time Pro Bowler recorded 31 interceptions in his first six seasons, the most of any NFL player during that span. He’s an opportunistic ball hawk, which the team desperately missed in 2021.
Baltimore struggled to turn teams over, but getting Marcus Peters back into the fold could turn the tide in 2022.
How the rest of the secondary could look next season
Having the league’s worst pass defense is uncommon for the Baltimore Ravens. The franchise has long been known for having a formidable run game and a physical and opportunistic defense. While Baltimore boasted the third-ranked rushing offense, the defense didn’t strike fear in its opponents.
It sounds as if Eric DeCosta is planning on bringing Marcus Peters back for at least another year. Now, it’s up to the front office to ensure the rest of the secondary is solid.
Fellow All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Assuming he returns healthy, the former Alabama standout should once again be one of the top corners in the league.
Safety Chuck Clark is under contract through 2023. He had an up and down season, but barring anything crazy, he’ll likely be the starter again in 2022. His running mate, DeShon Elliott, will be an unrestricted free agent. The front office must make some tough decisions, and it’s possible that another team could offer him more money.
Baltimore could opt to upgrade the secondary in free agency by going after a guy like Tyrann Mathieu of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens could also look to add depth in the NFL draft with a do-it-all cornerback in Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.
The Ravens desperately need to improve defensively in 2022, and it starts with getting the secondary back in order.