Matt Elam: What should the Ravens do with him now?


Oct 12, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens strong safety Matt Elam (26) and inside linebacker Daryl Smith (51) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It looked like Matt Elam, one of the biggest draft busts in Baltimore Ravens history, was finally going to turn the corner in 2015.  After getting called out by name by general manager Ozzie Newsome early this offseason, Elam responded by showing up to training camp 8 pounds lighter and with 8% body fat.

Elam had never lived up to his first round draft status after a stellar college career at Florida.  He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ lowest rated Ravens’ defensive player in 2014 and just the 78th best safety in the entire NFL.  He gave up a 71.7% completion percentage and 120.0 rating to opposing quarterbacks last offseason.

Elam has received more chances over the last couple of seasons than most players would, despite his poor play.  He finally began to lose playing time, along with his starting job, upon the return of Will Hill from suspension in 2014.

But the Ravens were still going to give him another shot this offseason, heading into what was likely going to be a make or break season for the young safety.  Then, an unfortunate and freak bicep tear on a tackle attempt has ended that attempt before it could even begin.

It’s a bad deal for Elam, but will it be the last we see of him in a Ravens’ uniform?  Given the past history of how Ozzie Newsome has handled these types of situations, it’s unlikely that we see him released outright – yet.

Despite the Ravens’ obvious displeasure over Matt Elam’s play, he is signed through 2016 at a relatively affordable rate.  Elam is guaranteed $1.02 million this year, and $1.32 million next year.  He does represent a cap hit of $1.84 and $2.15 million, however, in the coming seasons.

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If his salary proves to be a major squeeze, the Ravens might try to get Elam to agree to a pay cut, a la Lardarius Webb.  He doesn’t really have a choice, unless he wants to start fresh elsewhere.  Some team is probably willing to take a chance on a talented former first rounder.

The most likely scenario is Elam rehabs this season and works to get healthy for next year’s offseason. He takes one more good shot at proving that he can be the player the Ravens though he was when they drafted him.  If not, he hits the free agent market either prior to or just after the 2016 season.

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