All along throughout the offseason, the Baltimore Ravens elected not to address the cornerback position in free agency in spite of the fact that that seemingly had a gap in their starting lineup—at least in their nickel package, which is effectively the starting lineup for just about every defense in the league at this point.
The reason for this is because the Ravens have moved Lardarius Webb to safety this season, and are evidently still on course to continue with that path in spite of the fact that they signed Eric Weddle in free agency. It is possible that Webb ends up starting across from Weddle at the back end of the secondary.
But somebody has to replace Webb as a starting cornerback, and that might well end up being Jerraud Powers, whom the Ravens just signed two days ago to a one-year, $1.75 million deal after he and the Cardinals failed to work out a contract that both parties could live with throughout the course of the offseason.
That the Ravens worked out a deal with Powers on the 13th of May is by no means a happenstance, as it came just one day after the threshold for which free agent signings would count against the compensatory pick formula, which is something that Baltimore and general manager Ozzie Newsome absolutely pay heed to. They had three fourth-round compensatory picks in 2016.
The Ravens are likely due a third-round compensatory pick in 2017 for the loss of Kelechi Osemele, who signed one of the major big-money contracts in free agency with the Raiders. If you don’t think this is something that the team pays attention to, it was made a note of in the article on the team’s website about the signing of Powers.
As it currently stands, Powers figures either to start outside opposite Jimmy Smith, or to play in the slot in the nickel defense. The aforementioned article suggests that he will be competing with Shareece Wright and Will Davis for the job.
Wright is a sixth-year veteran whom the Ravens picked up during the middle of the 2015 season, playing in 11 games with seven starts, recording 40 tackles and five passes defensed. He was re-signed in free agency. Davis was traded for during the season for a seventh-round draft pick, but has only 26 tackles in a three-year career that consists mostly of special teams work.
Still on the roster is veteran Kyle Arrington, who started four games last year and registered 26 tackles. Arrington was signed exactly a year to the date of the Powers signing, beyond the threshold, though he was a street free agent anyway. They also drafted Tavon Young in the fourth round and Maurice Canady in the sixth round. The offseason gives them depth, but what sort of quality they have at the top remains to be seen.
Powers helps to improve the overall quality of the cornerback position for the Ravens, and will likely play a major role there even if he fails to win a starting job in training camp. And as has been the Ravens’ order of operations for some time, he was brought in in a way minimizes expense in terms of resources, financial and otherwise.