The Ravens made multiple roster moves seemingly out of the blue today, by releasing CB Kyle Arrington and adding two free agent cornerbacks. The two cornerbacks signed to the team today are Brandon Boykin and Al-Hajj Shabazz. These moves come in quick response to CB Tavon Young tearing his ACL on Thursday. With Young apparently out for a while, the Ravens will need more depth at cornerback to ensure that the already strong secondary remains poised to attack. However, for the Ravens to create an environment for their secondary to succeed in the absence of Tavon Young, they needed to free up some space for some more additions. This is where the release of Kyle Arrington comes into play.
Arrington was signed by the Ravens in the 2015 offseason, after winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2014. Arrington had a decent career up to that point with the New England Patriots, but upon joining the Ravens, Arrington seemed to have lost his touch. In 2015, Arrington totaled for a mere 28 tackles, his lowest total since his rookie season. He was also kept off the field for the entirety of the 2016 season, as he was unable to stay healthy. It had become apparent that the Ravens could no longer use Kyle Arrington, and with his projected $2.8 million caps hit, the Ravens had no choice but to terminate his contract. By taking this action, the Baltimore Ravens will now save $2.1 million on their salary cap, opening up the cap space to roughly $6.5 million. This enables the Ravens to have more flexibility and to agree to terms with more free agents.
The Ravens coupled the release of cornerback Kyle Arrington with the additions of two cornerbacks, Brandon Boykin and Al-Hajj Shabazz. Boykin, 26, has been with three other NFL teams before joining the Ravens today. Primarily a slot cornerback, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012, in the fourth round. In the city of brotherly love, he was able to amass 119 tackles and seven interceptions during his three-year stint with the Eagles. In 2015 the Eagles traded Boykin to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft. His time in Pittsburgh was short, as he only was able to mount 25 tackles and one interception in the season. In 2016 the free agent cornerback signed with the Chicago Bears but was kept off the field for the entirety of the 2016 season. Boykin had injured his pectoral in August of 2016.
Al-Hajj Shabazz, like Brandon Boykin, has been on numerous NFL teams. In 2015 the undrafted rookie free agent signed with the Indianapolis Colts but was later cut by the team. He then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later that same year. In 2016 Shabazz signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He made his playing debut with the western Pensylvania based team and was constantly removed from and added back to the 53 man roster. After Shabazz was cut from the Steelers in December of 2016, he was signed by the Houston Texans, only to be cut again a few weeks later. Shabazz was again signed to the Steelers’ practice squad three days after being cut by the Texans and later was promoted to the 53 man roster. Shabazz was released for the final time from Pittsburgh on May 2, 2017.
Both Brandon Boykin and Al-Hajj Shabazz were added to increase the depth of Baltimore’s cornerback’s group. The Ravens were thin on cornerbacks for some time, but in the past offseason, they have restocked the roster with cornerbacks. They added veteran cornerback Brandon Carr, along with drafting rookie Marlon Humphrey out of Alabama in the first round of the draft. These two other additions will help to fill the hole now left by cornerback Tavon Young. Young will eventually return to the Ravens, but in the meantime, Baltimore will need some role fillers. And who knows, maybe one of these two players will have a breakout season.
Going back to the release of Kyle Arrington, the Ravens are freeing up roughly $2.1 million in cap space as stated before. The contracts for the two new cornerback additions is currently unknown, however, it is likely that both contracts are not very lucrative for either of the players. The Ravens have gained much more cap room than they had before cutting Arrington, meaning one of two things. Either the Ravens just wish to have more cap space for insurance, or they are currently eyeing down a free agent target. If Baltimore addresses the current lack of receivers like they did the injury of Tavon Young, they will add a free agent receiver shortly. This move could be the precursor to signing Jeremy Maclin if, in fact, they manage to snag the highly coveted free agent. If not, they will likely go after Anquan Boldin, but they will not sign both.