The Baltimore Ravens unfortunately became intimately familiar with the injury bug in 2021. They're hoping the return of key defensive players will help them avoid a second-straight losing season.
Baltimore stands to welcome back a number of key defensive backs -- Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters -- to a position group that's also cleared a locker for new free-agent addition Marcus Williams. General manager Eric DeCosta is banking on the secondary's reinforcements helping the Ravens return to legitimate contention in 2022 but knows Baltimore still needs to add more talent to the position.
"Well, I think we're definitely concerned," DeCosta said Tuesday. "If you guys know us, we always want to have a strong secondary and have as many corners as possible. We've referred to those guys as race cars in the past, and this year, we got decimated at that position across the board. We have outstanding players coming back, but again, until they come back it's a question mark. So we're very excited that we feel like Marlon is going to come back with a vengeance and Marcus (Peters) is going to come back with a vengeance.
"But behind those two guys, the depth is thin, so there are opportunities for us, again in the first round, second round, third round, coach has been watching the corners as well, and we feel we have the opportunity to take one or two corners in the draft, and they'll come in and contribute right away. We're excited about that. And I should also say that bringing in Marcus this year should help those guys more because Williams, in a lot of different ways, the skills that he has, what he can do for us in the passing game in the back end, along with Chuck (Clark), makes me feel like we have a great set of safeties."
DeCosta made it painstakingly clear the Ravens are far from finished retooling their roster, foreshadowing potential moves to announce "in the next couple weeks" while adding he still has "a lot of work to do" with the defensive front. That group could also include the return of Calais Campbell, who remains a free agent early in April, and might also see additions at outside linebacker, a position DeCosta mentioned.
"We're always looking at value, looking at all the players, and that process doesn't end just because the first wave or second wave of free agency has passed us by. It doesn't mean there aren't some good players out there still," DeCosta said. "And over the years, I can give you a lot of examples of players we brought in. One that comes to mind is a favorite of mine, Daryl Smith, who we signed in May after the (2013) draft. There will be some Daryl Smith's on this team this year, so we will continue to address that."
The draft has long been a favorite method of adding players for Baltimore, starting with the team's capitalization on compensatory picks and continuing through its tried-and-true method of letting quality players leave for more money elsewhere while restocking with younger draft picks.
That method broke down due to countless injuries last year. DeCosta is working toward ensuring it doesn't happen again, and April will prove to be crucial to his process in 2022.