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Who's Out There? Free Safety

Posted Mar 9, 2014

The Ravens are looking for an athletic safety, and there are some solid options on the free agent market.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome said he wants a more athletic safety to pair with first-round pick Matt Elam, who the Ravens want to slide to his more natural strong safety position next year.

Newsome wants a playmaking free safety, and he’ll have some solid options on the free agent market.

Here’s a look at who’s out there:

Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
Unrestricted; 6th season; 27 years old; 5-foot-10, 203 pounds
2013 Stats: 48 tackles, 1 sack, 6 pass deflections, 4 interceptions
Byrd may be the best free agent on the market, and he won’t come cheap. But he’s also a great talent that’s worthy of a big contract. Byrd broke into the NFL with nine interceptions as a rookie and has been a playmaker ever since. The three-time Pro Bowler has tremendous instincts and breaks on the ball very well. He would allow the Ravens to drop Elam into the box to help with run support.

Louis Delmas, Detroit Lions
Unrestricted – cut; 6th season; 26; 5-11, 202
2013 Stats: 64 tackles, 2 sacks, 8 pass deflections, 3 interceptions
Delmas is an aggressive playmaker who the Lions cut for financial reasons. The Ravens liked him when he came out of the draft because he’s a big hitter who also has ball skills. Delmas’ main drawback has been injuries. He missed five games in 2011, then half the year in 2012. He played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year.

Michael Mitchell, Carolina Panthers
Unrestricted; 6th seasons [delete]; 26; 6-0, 210
2013 Stats: 66 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 8 pass deflections, 4 interceptions
Mitchell is a former Raiders second-round pick who never got the starting job. He got his first shot at starting last year in Carolina and did well. He’s a deep free safety who isn’t all that flashy, but is often in the right position at the right time. He makes good reads and is a solid tackler. Mitchell would be more of a bargain option with upside because of his age.

Chris Clemons, Miami Dolphins
Unrestricted; 6th season; 28; 6-1, 214
2013 Stats: 93 tackles, 8 pass deflections, 1 interception
Clemons is more of a hybrid safety than some of the others on this list, as he played a lot of strong safety last year. But he was also strong in coverage, and was used in single-high coverage by the Dolphins. Clemons isn’t a huge playmaker (four career interceptions), but he’s a very solid player who has started 32 straight games.

Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos
Unrestricted – cut; 16th season; 35; 6-0, 192
2013 Stats (5 games): 14 tackles, 3 pass deflections
Long regarded as one of the league’s best cornerbacks and a seven-time Pro Bowler, Bailey was released by the Broncos on Thursday. He said he has no intention of retiring and is open to switching to free safety since he doesn’t have the same speed to cover receivers one-on-one. It could be a good solution. Bailey has great instincts and gets around the ball. Still, a position switch and his age raises concerns.

Ed Reed, New York Jets
Unrestricted; 13th season; 35; 5-11, 205
2013 Stats: 38 tackles, 4 pass deflections, 3 interceptions
What about bringing back one of the greatest Ravens of all-time? The Ravens let Reed walk out last offseason following 11 great years in Baltimore. It didn’t turn out well for Reed, who struggled and was eventually benched and cut in Houston. He did better once he landed with Head Coach Rex Ryan in New York. Reed snatched three interceptions in his final four games there. Reed says he wants to keep playing, but how much does he have left?

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