The Ravens have signed Marlon Humphrey to a five-year contract extension that will keep the All-Pro cornerback in Baltimore through the 2026 season, the team announced Thursday.
The five-year deal is worth $98.75 million, including $40 million guaranteed, according to ESPN, which would make Humphrey one of the NFL’s highest-paid cornerbacks. Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey signed a five-year, $105 million extension in September, the richest-ever deal for the position.
“It’s great to sign that deal and know that for the next couple of years, you’re going to be a Raven,” Humphrey said in a video conference call Thursday. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve really enjoyed this organization, this city, these fans, the people around me. So it was really big me for to stay a Raven.”
Humphrey, 24, entered this year with one of the NFL’s most valuable contracts ($3.8 million salary cap hit), and the Ravens already had picked up his fifth-year option for 2021, when he’s expected to earn about $10 million.
But the NFL’s skyrocketing market for cornerbacks made him one of the Ravens front office’s top priorities. The Miami Dolphins signed free agent Byron Jones this offseason to a five-year, $82.5 million deal. The Philadelphia Eagles added Darius Slay with a three-year, $50 million offer. Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White signed a four-year, $70 million extension. Ramsey, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, reset the market three weeks ago.
“Marlon is the type of player we want in Baltimore,” said Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta, who’s also negotiating a potential extension for All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, a pending free agent. “Besides his obvious talents as a playmaking corner, he’s a passionate competitor who craves winning. Marlon has been a stalwart in our community, and we are excited that he’s going to remain with us for seven seasons.”
Humphrey’s extension is DeCosta’s latest big-money investment in the team’s secondary. With Marcus Peters agreeing to a three-year, $42 million extension in December, the Ravens have one of the NFL’s best cornerback pairings under contract through 2022. In February, safety Chuck Clark signed a three-year, $19 million extension. In February 2019, Tavon Young signed a three-year, $25.8 million extension that briefly made him the NFL’s highest-paid slot cornerback.
Not every bet has paid off. Young missed last season with a neck injury and appeared in just two games this year before tearing his ACL for the second time in four seasons. Safety Earl Thomas III, who signed a four-year, $55 million contract in 2019, including $32 million guaranteed, had his contract terminated after he followed his Pro Bowl season with a rocky offseason and training camp. Safety Tony Jefferson, who signed a four-year, $34 million contract in 2017, was released after three disappointing seasons.
But over three-plus years in Baltimore, Humphrey has evolved from the No. 16 overall pick into the kind of foundational player around whom the Ravens want to build. A homegrown talent, he’s the franchise’s first first-round pick to sign a contract extension since cornerback Jimmy Smith, a 2011 pick.
A durable, flexible and physical cornerback, Humphrey has missed just two games in his NFL career. Since 2019, he has played at least 91.8% of the Ravens' defensive snaps in all but one game, and done so with a fearless playing style. Maybe most impressively, Humphrey’s breakthrough 2019 season came at a position where he had little experience.
In 2018, according to Player Profiler, Humphrey lined up in the slot on just 4.8% of his defensive snaps. With Young’s injury, Humphrey moved inside in 2019, playing over half his snaps at a position where he said “everything” was “really different.” In 16 games (15 starts), Humphrey finished with three interceptions and returned two of his three fumble recoveries for touchdowns. He earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career.
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Overall, Humphrey has played in 49 games and made 31 starts, recording 150 tackles, eight interceptions, 44 passes defended, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. The Ravens have finished in the top four in pass defense efficiency every year since his arrival. In that time, he’s allowed the third-lowest completion percentage among defensive backs as the nearest defender, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats.
“The thing with Marlon is, he’s one of those players that he could play in any era," defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said Thursday. "He’s got elite cover skills. He’s got elite tackling skills. … He has a knack at getting the ball off of people and intercepting the ball. That’s contagious with the defense.”
Humphrey credited his family, along with current and former coaches, most notably his father, Bobby, for guiding him throughout his career. He got choked up as he recalled the impact his father — who, like Humphrey, starred at the University of Alabama and then played four seasons in the NFL — has had on his life, as he “never really let me slip” on his journey to the NFL.
Just a few years ago, veterans such as Jefferson and former Ravens safety Eric Weddle ribbed Humphrey, a talented but inconsistent up-and-comer whom they saw as capable of standing with some of the best cornerbacks in the league. And after Thursday’s extension, Humphrey will remain in Baltimore as part of the nucleus of a young, championship-level roster.
“I would say he’s notched it up one more notch from an attention-to-detail and intensity perspective,” coach John Harbaugh said in August. "Marlon is all over the field. He’s physical, he’s running to the ball, [and his] eyes are where they are supposed to be in coverage.
“I would say he’s taking it up another notch, which is really impressive, because some guys aren’t mature enough to handle the attention, and he’s really done a good job of that so far in training camp. And I don’t think for one second anything will change going forward, because that’s just the type of person he is.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Daniel Oyefusi contributed to this article.