Marlon Humphrey isn’t technically due for a contract extension for, at least, two more seasons. But it’s not too early to start talking about it.
Humphrey, the Ravens’ first-round draft choice in 2017, has two more years left on an extremely team-friendly rookie deal. He’ll make just 1.9 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, of the Ravens’ cap for the next two seasons with his fifth-year option extended.
After the 2021 season, he’ll be 25 years old and in search of a new deal, which could be a deal atop the cornerback market.
Humphrey certainly played like one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL last season. He made the Pro Bowl and was named a first-team All-Pro, too. He finished the season with 65 tackles and had three interceptions, including perhaps the biggest forced turnover of the Ravens season when he stripped JuJu Smith-Schuster in an overtime game against the Steelers.
His versatility shined. The Ravens were able to use him in the slot with Tavon Young lost for the season, which allowed Jimmy Smith and Marcus Peters to patrol the outside corner spots. But with Young set to return, the Ravens have more versatility than ever in the secondary. Now, Humphrey can play all over the field.
With a few notable cornerbacks expected to hit the free agency market in 2021 like Jalen Ramsey, Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman, the market has yet to have been set for Humphrey's free agency period. But looking at other top cornerbacks across the league, there could be a bit of a clue as to what Humphrey could receive.
Of the top paid corners in the NFL, by average per year, 16 of them make more than $10 million per season. The top paid cornerback currently is Darius Slay of the Eagles, who will make $15.75 million, $19.75 million and $20.75 million against the cap starting in 2021. He made $30.05 total guaranteed and $26.05 fully guaranteed. Slay will be a free agent in 2024.
The top five players, which include Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, James Bradberry and Patrick Peterson, all exceed $14 million per season.
With the NFL’s cap situation in flux due to the coronavirus pandemic, what percentage of the cap those figures will turn out to be is yet to be known. But how much the cap goes up in the next two seasons — if it does at all — could matter to Humphrey’s negotiations.
Humphrey will likely make nearly $20 million per season after his rookie deal expires, but if he has two more standout, All-Pro type seasons, then that number could certainly grow until he’s the top paid player in the sport. Ramsey’s contract, due at the end of this season, is likely to influence that number.
Moreso, the Ravens have key free agents after the 2021 season in right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., and tight end Mark Andrews. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is technically set to become a free agent at the end of that season, but it’s a safe bet that the Ravens will extend his fifth-year option.
Still, the Ravens turn to pay the piper for their young, cheap talent they’ve enjoyed for the last two seasons is nearing, especially with Ronnie Stanley due for an upper-tier left tackle contract at the end of the 2020 season.
Humphrey’s deal, while still not in the immediate future, is something the Ravens have to begin planning for.
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