Brandon Carr brings much-needed stability at CB for Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens signed a Dallas Cowboys free-agent cornerback, but he's not the one everyone expected.

After many concluded Morris Claiborne would end up in Baltimore, the Ravens signed Brandon Carr to address one of their top priorities. Carr is the surer bet for the Ravens because of his durability.

This continues Baltimore's strong investment in defense. In the first week of free agency, the Ravens signed Carr, nose tackle Brandon Williams and safety Tony Jefferson.

Terms: Four years, $24 million, but it breaks down to be a one-year deal with a series of options, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. It'll likely prove to be a two-year, $12 million deal.

ESPN 150 ranking: No. 95 (No. 13 cornerback)

Grade: B. Carr stabilizes a cornerback position that has been in flux for years. Baltimore has started at least four corners over the past three seasons due to injuries or ineffectiveness. The Ravens weren't going to get anyone better than Carr in terms of durability. His consecutive streak of 144 starts is the longest active one among cornerbacks. Carr isn't much of a playmaker (one interception over the past three seasons) and he never lived up to his five-year, $50 million contract in Dallas. But he's a solid starter and clearly better than last year's stopgap Shareece Wright.

What it means: The Ravens have two big and physical man-coverage cornerbacks in Carr and Jimmy Smith. Carr was the Cowboys' best corner last season, but he ranked only No. 52 among corners by Pro Football Focus. This move allows Baltimore to shift Tavon Young to his more natural position in the slot. Cornerback has been a pressing need for a while. The Ravens allowed the most touchdowns to receivers the past two seasons with 47 in 32 games. Baltimore still needs a fourth corner, so the addition of Carr doesn't preclude them from taking one early in the draft (especially with Carr turning 31 in May and being on a short-term deal).

What’s the risk: There will be a debate over whether the Ravens should have signed Carr or Claiborne. In terms of upside, the better choice would've been Claiborne. But he was a boom-or-bust signing because he's never played a full season in the NFL. The better fit for Baltimore is Carr, who has never missed a game in his nine-year NFL career. That has to come into play when the Ravens' other starting cornerback, Smith, has been sidelined for 22 games over six seasons. The concern with Carr is he's on the downside of his career. He even considered retirement this offseason.