Ravens' options at free safety now limited

The Baltimore Ravens need a free safety, but they weren't involved in any of the signings in the first 2 1/2 hours of free agency.

Here are the six safeties that signed quickly Tuesday: Donte Whitner to Browns for four years, $28 million; Antoine Bethea to 49ers for four years, $23 million; T.J. Ward to the Broncos for a deal that averages $5.5 million; Malcolm Jenkins to the Eagles for three years, $16.25 million; Mike Mitchell to the Steelers; and Ryan Mundy to the Bears for a two-year deal. Plus, Louis Delmas signed a one-year, $3.5 million with the Dolphins on Monday.

Where does that leave the Ravens? With not many options. I would be surprised if the Ravens paid big for Jairus Byrd, the top available safety who is visiting the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday night.

The Ravens need to target Chris Clemons, the underrated safety from the Miami Dolphins who has drawn interest from the Jets. He is a hybrid who played strong safety last season but is equally as effective in pass defense.

Another option is moving a veteran cornerback to safety like Champ Bailey or Antonio Cromartie. That should be a contingency plan.

The Ravens could always look for a "more athletic safety" -- which is what general manager Ozzie Newsome described as a priority -- in the draft. That's also a risk because the Ravens would team a rookie with Matt Elam, a second-year player. Young defenders can make mistakes, and mistakes by safeties can often result in touchdowns.

The best solution is signing a veteran free agent. But, a few hours into free agency, the talent pool has dwindled significantly.