A day after reiterating that he wasn’t done shaping his team’s roster, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome finally added the veteran cornerback that the organization had been seeking.
The Ravens have agreed in principle to a three-year deal with cornerback Kyle Arrington, who was released by the New England Patriots on Monday. Terms of the agreement, which is pending a physical, are not immediately known.
In parts of six seasons with the Patriots, Arrington started 56 games and had nine interceptions, leading the league with seven picks in 2011. It represents a homecoming of sorts for Arrington, who grow up in Accokeek and starred at Gwynn Park High in Prince George’s County.
“We are extremely happy for Kyle and his family and grateful to the Ravens, particularly the hard work that Ozzie Newsome and 1/8senior vice president for football administration3/8 Pat Moriarty, did to get this done,” said Arrington’s agent, Richard Kopelman of KLASS Sports. “This allows Kyle Arrington to come home and play in front of his hometown fans. This can only be described as turning a dream into reality.”
An undrafted cornerback out of Hofstra, Arrington, 28, became a key member of the Patriots’ secondary and special teams units. However, his playing time diminished last season — he started just four games and played about 40 percent of the team’s defensive snaps — and the Patriots felt that his $4.6 million salary cap figure for 2015 was too costly given his reduced role.
The Ravens, who were plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness in their secondary all last season, wasted no time in adding Arrington to what they hope will be an improved secondary. Arrington will likely fit in behind projected starters Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb.
The Ravens also have Rashaan Melvin and Asa Jackson, both of whom started at times last season, along with fourth-round pick Tray Walker, Chris Greenwood, Tramain Jacobs and Quinton Pointer. But team officials have been consistent in saying that they wanted to add a little more depth after what happened last year at the position.
“We’ve had a bunch of injuries and we’ve had a bunch of young guys out there and those guys have played pretty well. But you’re right, not well enough to get us all the way where we need to get,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday on a conference call with season ticket holders. “We added some guys in the middle of the season that ended up starting for us in the playoffs. I like our young guys. We like 1/8Rashaan Melvin3/8. We like Chris Greenwood. We like Asa 1/8Jackson3/8. We think those guys are developing players.
“We’re not done yet. Jimmy is going to be a big part of what we’re doing. Lardarius is going to be healthy. That’s going to be huge for us. We still may add a player or two to try to bolster that depth like we’re talking about here.”
Arrington has had his struggles on the outside in recent seasons, but he’s been particularly effective working in the slot, where he’s contained speedy and shifty receivers like T.Y. Hilton and Wes Welker. The Ravens weren’t able to adequately replace Corey Graham, their primary slot corner in 2012 and 2013, who signed a free-agent deal with the Buffalo Bills last offseason. They even tried using safety Matt Elam in the slot this past season, but the results were poor.
Not only should Arrington be an upgrade in that area, but he also should help the Ravens’ special teams units, long one of the team’s strengths. The Ravens haven’t re-signed free agent Jeromy Miles, one of their core special teamers the past two years, so Arrington could step in and fill his spot.
But for the Ravens, that’s just a bonus. They kicked the tires on several free agent cornerbacks, including Cary Williams, Perrish Cox and Tramon Williams, but they were outbid on all of them. They also waited until the fourth round of the recent draft to add a corner, adding Walker out of Texas Southern.
Walker is a relatively raw prospect, but Arrington, has the track record and experience to be an immediate contributor on the Ravens’ secondary.