Anthony Averett is Ravens’ most painful but inevitable free agent loss

Ravens, Anthony Averett (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Ravens, Anthony Averett (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

You win some in free agency, and then you lose some. Cornerback Anthony Averett could be seen as the Baltimore Ravens‘ biggest loss this offseason, but his departure reads as mostly unsurprising.

On Wednesday, Averett signed with the Las Vegas Raiders on a one-year, $4.5 million deal where he’ll likely get a chance to prove himself in the starting lineup.

With Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey ready to return in 2022, Averett would have served as a depth corner on the Ravens at best, plugging in the rotation to give Peters or Humphrey a rest or if either starter got injured.

During a frustrating 2021 season that saw the Ravens concede the most passing yards in the league (4,742 yards), Averett’s starting-caliber potential was put to the test, and for the most part, he met expectations.

In Peters’ absence, Averett became one of the league’s most targeted corners and often had to defend against opponents’ top wideout threats.

He experienced his share of ups and downs but deserves the chance to play as a full-time starter with an opportunity to cash in big next offseason.

The Ravens were always willing to let Anthony Averett walk in free agency

In 14 starts last season, Averett racked up 54 combined tackles, 11 passes defended, and three interceptions, finishing the year as the 165th-best graded cornerback in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

While that ranking admittedly puts Averett in the bottom tier of qualified corners, the 27-year-old has shown incredible growth ever since he was drafted as a fourth-round pick in 2018. He went from starting three or four games in his first few seasons to starting nearly every game in 2021, and he had all the odds against his favor.

In the wake of the Ravens’ injury-plagued season, few players can look back and be proud of their performances, but Averett certainly can.

More so than any other secondary member, he provided irreplaceable value as a healthy starting-caliber corner, and Baltimore would have lost games by many more scores if not for him.

The sentiment surrounding the Ravens this offseason has always been that the team would keep either Peters or Averett but not both, and Peters’ talent and starting experience may have narrowly beat out Averett, his injury concerns notwithstanding.

After Baltimore splurged big this free agency, picking up necessary upgrades at safety and the offensive line, Averett realized he wouldn’t get much money nor playing time on the Ravens and naturally sought offers elsewhere.

Losing a quality backup corner like Averett may leave a bitter taste in Baltimore’s mouth, but such a loss proved inevitable in the end. Averett might have developed into a reliable starting piece for Baltimore in the years ahead, but given the circumstances, the Ravens had to let a good thing go.

Now, the Ravens should be even more motivated to go after a cornerback in the early rounds of the 2022 draft to add crucial depth to the secondary.

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After four developmental years in Baltimore, the Ravens wish Anthony Averett the best of luck — and he’ll definitely need it, seeing that he’ll be playing in the AFC West. Time for him to enter the lion’s den.