By Ronald Toothe
Coming into the 2021 season, the Baltimore Ravens secondary unit is one that is the envy of almost every other team across the league. With elite starting corners like Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters manning the outside, and young up-and-comers like Brandon Stephens and Shaun Wade looking to make their mark from the jump, there’s sure to be plenty of energy and excitement around this bunch. However, one man who you could say has been lost in the fold, however, could also be primed for his best season yet, is Anthony Averett.
Averett is coming off his most productive season yet for the Ravens, in which he started four games and accrued seven pass deflections. The prior two seasons in much more limited playing time he only combined for four total, which shows that he’s more than ready to take on an even bigger share of the workload, as he began to in 2020.
He’s yet to secure that first career interception, which is likely high up on his list of goals for this season as he continues to look for ways to make an impact. Averett also came close to doubling his number of tackles in 2020 as compared to 2019, which shows that he’s also no stranger to the physicality the Ravens love to have in their defensive backfield.
Breaking down the dollars
On top of his desire to help the Ravens win football games, the biggest factor that points to Anthony Averett gunning to be a strong defensive presence comes in the form of contracts, on numerous fronts. For starters, Averett is coming into the last year of his rookie deal with the team.
The Ravens drafted the aforementioned Stephens and Wade in April, which could be seen as them at least having a contingency in place should Averett be gone in 2022. The truth of the matter is though, Wink Martindale and company love having as much depth as possible in this facet of the team. A strong campaign in which he builds on the success we saw in 2020 could very well lead to the Ravens having no choice but to bring Averett back for a second, more lucrative deal.
The other contract aspect to keep an eye on in terms of Averett’s future is that of Jimmy Smith, who signed a one-year extension back in January and recently made it known that he won’t play anywhere else but Baltimore in his career. Smith has been one of the mainstays for the Ravens defense for almost a decade, but unfortunately, the injury bug is one he’s been unable to avoid for the majority of that tenure.
With 2021 potentially being his last year on the team, the Ravens would be smart to start planning who his successor will be at the third corner spot now. Giving Averett more consistent playing time in that role will show Martindale exactly what he has to offer, and whether or not he’s worthy of taking the said role.
Baltimore Ravens bottom line:
2021 is undoubtedly going to be the most important year of Anthony Averett’s career. In terms of the team respecting Jimmy Smith enough to give him every chance to lead the pack behind Humphrey and Peters, some aspects are entirely out of his control. However, what is in his control is how he performs in camp and how undeniable he makes himself in the eyes of the coaching staff and front office.
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There’s no question that Averett will receive a second contract in the league but in terms of where and for how much, well, that could be entirely up to him and his play. He can make a strong case for that to be in Baltimore, for much more money, if he takes another step forward in 2021.