Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said after last season that his team can never have enough good cornerbacks, a stance he reiterated throughout the offseason.
Adding one before next season was a priority, and Baltimore did Wednesday by signing veteran free agent Rock Ya-Sin. The deal is for one year and worth up to $6 million, according to multiple reports.
“It’s an important position,” DeCosta said Saturday during the NFL draft. “What we’ve seen is you can never have enough good corners to start the season and throughout the season. That’s a fast way to get beat, is to not have enough corners on the field.”
The Ravens have All-Pro Marlon Humphrey on one side but there was uncertainty at the other starting spot after they did not re-sign veteran Marcus Peters. Now they have bolstered the position with the addition of Ya-Sin, a second-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2019 who spent last season with the Raiders after being dealt to Las Vegas for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in March 2022.
Ya-Sin had 45 tackles with seven passes defended in 11 games last season, nine of them starts.
He’s proved to be a dependable presence when healthy. Ya-Sin, who will turn 27 on May 23, received at least a 65.3 overall grade and 62.2 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus in three of his four seasons, including a 72.2 coverage mark in 2021. Over the past three seasons, his passer rating allowed when targeted in coverage has also dropped, from 98.7 in 2020 to 88.8 in 2021 to 82.6 last year.
Though the 6-foot, 190-pound Ya-Sin has played mostly on the outside during his career and is expected to start opposite Humphrey, he has also been plagued by injuries. Over the past three years, he has missed 13 games, including six last season when he went on injured reserve with a knee injury.
His signing was not a surprise, given the glaring need at the position.
The Ravens hosted Ya-Sin on a free agent visit in March and didn’t take a cornerback in the draft until the fifth round when they selected Kyu Blu Kelly out of Stanford. By waiting until after Monday to make the addition, the Ravens also avoided having Ya-Sin count against the NFL’s compensatory draft pick formula.
In a division that includes Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins (both coming off 1,000-yard seasons) and Tyler Boyd, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Allen Robinson and the Cleveland Browns’ Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Elijah Moore, cornerback was a major position of need. Damarion “Pepe” Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis, who were both drafted last year, and defensive back Brandon Stephens are also expected to compete for snaps.
Ya-Sin has appeared in 52 games in his career, including 38 starts. He has two interceptions, 27 passes defended, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 183 tackles and two tackles for loss.