The status of Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and veteran cornerback Brandon Carr gained clarity Wednesday at the NFL Combine. Both Yanda and Carr are expected back next season, according to General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh.
Yanda made the Pro Bowl for the seventh time in 2018, but at age 34, he takes time after every season to reevaluate how long he will play. During Pro Bowl week in Orlando, Yanda did not want to declare he would return next season. But Harbaugh said his belief is that Yanda is planning to play in 2019, leaving one less offseason issue for the Ravens to address.
"I haven't heard that he's not," Harbaugh said. "So if there's a scoop out there that tells me otherwise, I'm all ears. I don't want to hear that. That's bad news I don't want to get. My understanding is that Marshal Yanda is coming back and ready to roll. That's where we left it at the end of the season. To my knowledge, nothing's changed on that."
When asked about Carr, DeCosta said he expects the 32-year-old cornerback to return next season, as the Ravens continue to sort through personnel decisions. The Ravens have a $7 million contract option on Carr that they can pick up for next season. It's the same figure he played at last year, per Spotrac.
DeCosta said Carr's performance, durability, and leadership make him a valuable member of the defense. Carr has made 176 consecutive starts, the most among all active NFL players.
"I would expect him to be back, yes. I would," DeCosta said. "I love the way he plays. He's a great leader. He's a veteran presence. Plays really well for us at different spots, is versatile. The guy's never missed a game in his career. He's got every quality that you would want on your team."
Safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Jimmy Smith are also under contract for next season, but their future is unknown. Veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree was released Monday and it remains to be seen if other veteran players will be let go for salary-cap reasons.
DeCosta wants to keep the chemistry of the Ravens' No. 1- ranked defense intact, but he also wants the Ravens to have salary-cap flexibility. He mentioned the salary cap when asked specifically about the status of Weddle and Smith.
"Those guys are under contract, as you know," DeCosta said. "We've got to be as responsible as we can with the salary cap, trying to free up as much money as we can to make moves moving forward. There's a lot of different ways to skin the cat, so to speak. I think we've had a lot of different discussions on what's the best move for the club moving forward with different players – veteran players, younger players. We've tried to sign some younger players. We did that last week with Tavon [Young], bringing him back on a four-year contract, three-year extension. We're excited about that. I think you'll see some more moves going forward.
"We always want to be the strongest defense we can be, understanding that the salary cap does place parameters on us that aren't always easy to work with, to keep all your best players. We live in a salary-cap age, but we've got to find the right combination of players that we can keep, the right combination of players that we can bring back."