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Ex-Ravens cornerback Westry signs with Carolina, reinforcing depth concerns at position

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Enjoying what was perceived to be one of the NFL’s deepest group of cornerbacks before injuries decimated the secondary in 2021, the Ravens were reminded Monday how much work they have to do at the position.

After not being tendered a contract as a restricted free agent last month, Chris Westry signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers to become the latest cornerback to exit Baltimore this offseason. Signed away from Dallas on a reserve-future deal last offseason, the 24-year-old Westry impressed enough in the spring and summer to win a spot on the 53-man-roster out of training camp, but knee and hamstring injuries as well as a stint on the COVID-19 list limited the 6-foot-4 corner to only six games. While the Ravens had hoped to re-sign Westry at a cheaper rate after he flashed some promise at different points over his first year with Baltimore, they chose not to give him the restricted low tender of $2.433 million, which would have afforded them the right to match any offer sheet he signed with another team.

On paper, the Ravens still have one of the best outside corner duos in the league in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, but the release of slot corner Tavon Young, the free-agent departures of Westry and Anthony Averett, and the likely retirement of Jimmy Smith leave general manager Eric DeCosta with few established options behind his two former Pro Bowl selections, who are each returning from a season-ending injury. Behind Humphrey and Peters, the only cornerbacks currently listed on the offseason roster are former practice-squad members Kevon Seymour, Robert Jackson, and Kevin Toliver as well as 2019 fourth-round pick Iman Marshall, who hasn’t played in a game and has only practiced sparingly since sustaining a torn ACL at the start of training camp in 2020. Head coach John Harbaugh indicated last week that the Ravens would be bringing back third-year slot cornerback Khalil Dorsey — who appeared in six games as a rookie and missed 2021 after suffering a shoulder injury during training camp — while expressing obvious interest in this year’s cornerback draft class.

“I like some of the guys on our roster too, but I’ve watched all the corners in the draft already,” Harbaugh said at the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida. “There’s a lot of good corners. I’m excited about getting one or two of those guys and adding them to the mix.”

Though it’s unclear what combination of top projected cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati), Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU), and Trent McDuffie (Washington) might be available when the Ravens select 14th overall — or whether DeCosta would use his first-round selection at the position — later this month, you’d anticipate Baltimore taking a corner with one of its four picks over the first three rounds. Adding a talented young corner to the mix becomes an even bigger priority with the 29-year-old Peters entering a contract year and still working his way back from a torn ACL suffered days before the 2021 opener.

It’s also worth acknowledging the versatility of second-year safeties Brandon Stephens and Ar’Darius Washington that makes them options at the slot corner position. The free-agent signing of former New Orleans free safety Marcus Williams will allow new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to use the 6-foot-1, 213-pound Stephens in more of a hybrid role after the 2021 third-round pick made 11 starts in place of injured safety DeShon Elliott last season.

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