All the contract talk out of Ravens camp has surrounded Lamar Jackson, who hasn’t yet secured an extension and could end up playing on a franchise tag this season.
While Baltimore’s and Jackson’s futures appear inevitably intertwined, cornerback Marcus Peters has flown under the radar as a key member of the defense who nonetheless may not return in 2023.
Peters will play out the last year of his contract in 2022 on a base salary of $10 million, but very little has been revealed about Peters’ future plans with the franchise.
If Peters’ price point becomes too high, the Ravens could potentially move on from the 29-year-old in favor of younger talent with more upside.
Just a few months removed from this year’s draft, many are already looking ahead to how the Ravens might improve their roster next offseason — Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballantine wrote up a way-too-early 2023 mock and had Baltimore selecting South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith with the 23rd overall pick:
"“Peters has just one year left on his contract and will be 30 years old by the time he starts a new one. If the Ravens want to continue enjoying the perks of having lockdown corners, they may have to turn to the draft. Cam Smith has certainly looked like one playing for South Carolina.Smith has a similar build to Peters at 6’0″, 185 pounds and he’s similarly annoying to opposing receivers. He uses great technique to shut down opposing receivers and only gave up 184 yards across 11 games, per PFF.”"
The Ravens select 2023 CB Cam Smith to be Marcus Peters’ heir apparent in 2023 mock draft
For those who believe the Ravens won’t continue adding to their already stacked secondary, keep in mind that Baltimore adheres to a best-player-available draft strategy and likely wouldn’t pass on an elite defensive playmaker.
Cam Smith may not be in the first-round conversation right now, but a strong fourth season would catapult him into relevance. Smith recorded 64 tackles and five interceptions in three seasons at South Carolina, and the most significant aspect of his collegiate career is that he has improved his game year after year.
We doubt Smith will serve as an immediate plug-and-play replacement for Peters (assuming Peters leaves Baltimore next offseason) yet he could still be drafted as a developmental player who is eventually groomed into a reliable starting corner.
Baltimore also has other young backup options behind Peters, most notably 2022 fourth-rounder Jalyn Armour-Davis who, like Marlon Humphrey, hails from Alabama.
If there’s one thing for certain, though, the Ravens will never say no to more star power.
Based on his current production and value, Cam Smith doesn’t seem like the most prudent draft selection at the moment, but give it a year and see where he ranks on the board.