The Baltimore Ravens and safety Marcus Williams have reached agreement on a five-year, $70 million deal, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
This deal includes $37 million guaranteed, including $31 million in next year, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Williams, a full-time starter at free safety for the New Orleans Saints since he was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft, played under the franchise tag last season ($10.612 million) after the two sides were unable to work out a long-term deal.
Williams, who turns 26 in September, has been a huge part of the defensive turnaround in New Orleans, a unit that ranks sixth in the NFL in both yards and points allowed since he arrived. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has 15 career interceptions in the regular season, including one returned for a touchdown in 2019, and one interception in the playoffs. He also has three forced fumbles, 38 pass defenses and 321 tackles.
Although he has never been selected to a Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team, Williams is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s top safeties. Pro Football Focus has graded him among the league’s top seven safeties in each of the past three seasons.
Williams’ most infamous play was his missed tackle against then-Minnesota Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs in the “Minneapolis Miracle” playoff loss at the end of his rookie year. But he has improved as a tackler throughout his career, and he recorded a career-high 74 tackles in 2021.
By adding Williams, the Ravens are looking to bolster a pass defense that struggled mightily last season.
With Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters injured, Baltimore allowed the most passing yards (4,986), yards per reception (12.6) and average yards after the catch (6.4) in the NFL last season. The Ravens pass defense also gave up a franchise-worst 31 touchdown passes and intercepted only nine passes.
This continues Baltimore’s strong investment in its secondary. Over the past three years, the Ravens have invested $71 million in guaranteed money in the defensive backfield: Humphrey ($40 million), Peters ($21 million) and safety Chuck Clark ($10 million).
The Ravens have not made many splashes in free agency, but when they do it’s typically for a safety — with mixed results. Baltimore signed Eric Weddle in 2016 and Earl Thomas in 2019. Weddle became one of the Ravens’ best free-agent additions, but Thomas lasted only one full season, getting cut after an altercation with a teammate at training camp.
ESPN’s Mike Triplett and Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.
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