The Baltimore Ravens got one safety position locked up for the 2016 season, and at least a year or two beyond, when they landed former All-Pro Eric Weddle to roam their secondary. But the other safety spot is in a bit of a limbo state at the moment, particularly after the release of Will Hill when it was announced that he would be subjected to yet another suspension.
Hill played in 16 games for the Ravens last year, logging 14 starts, registering 64 tackles, a sack, an interception, and a handful of passes defensed.
His departure leaves vacant nearly 1000 snaps and about 90 percent of Baltimore’s defensive playing time from a year ago at his position—but that is not to say that they don’t have options. In fact, they actually have quite a few options, which could result in an interesting preseason battle for a starting job.
For starters, there is still the Ravens’ other starting safety from last season, Kendrick Lewis, a veteran whom they signed on the cheap last season after he was cut in order to replace their own missing parts. He is nothing special, to be sure, but he is experienced.
There is also Matt Elam, whom the Ravens drafted in the first round following their Super Bowl victory during the 2012 season. An immediate rookie starter, Elam, however, struggled a fair bit during his first two seasons. And while he emerged confident and eager to improve in 2015, he ended up missing the entire season with an injury.
Finally, there is also Ladarius Webb, who is apparently moving to safety full-time during the course of this offseason, which is a position that he toyed with in spots last season. Webb told the team’s website back in January that the move was more or less a done deal and a team decision. He played safety in college.
Of course, that was back in January, and that was before they signed Weddle—but it was also before Hill’s suspension and release, so perhaps it doesn’t alter the plan to continue ahead with Webb at safety. It does seem as though there could be a three-way battle for the starting safety spot across from Weddle between Lewis, Elam, and Webb.
Not to be dismissed is Terrence Brooks, originally a third-round pick by the Ravens in 2014 who has seen relatively limited time during the course of his first two seasons. He did play 67 snaps on defense last season, and could be thrown into the mix.
If Webb is indeed moving full-time to safety, he may be their best option back there given his experience and knowledge of the Ravens’ defense when one considers the defensive responsibilities the safety position holds, while the other members of the competition are more recent organizational additions. But it should be one to watch.