OWINGS MILLS, Md. — An emotional Marlon Humphrey broke down midway through the news conference announcing his five-year contract extension with the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday when he spoke about the influence of his father, former NFL running back Bobby Humphrey.
“My dad’s kept me in line,” Humphrey said as he choked up before pausing to wipe tears from his eyes. “Since I was young, I told my dad I wanted to play in the NFL and he never really let me slip. He’s been my everything for me along with my mom.”
The Ravens made Humphrey the second-highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, signing him to the five-year, $98.75 million extension, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. His average of $19.75 million per season ranks just behind the Los Angeles Rams‘ Jalen Ramsey ($20 million per season).
The deal, which was later announced by the Ravens, keeps the All-Pro in Baltimore through the 2026 season. His father, who played five NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos in the early 1990s, worked with Marlon’s agent on this deal.
“For me, being the highest paid was never really a factor,” Humphrey said. “The biggest thing for me was staying a Raven. I remember when I first got here, me and Chris Moore used to joke around saying, ‘Ravens for life.’ It’s a very good feeling to actually be one.”
Humphrey will receive $40 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The deal, which is believed to be the largest ever for a Ravens defensive player, came about quickly.
“I said some subtle jokes about money to some guys yesterday and they thought I was kidding,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey, 24, has been the Ravens’ top defensive playmaker over the past three seasons. Since entering the league in 2017, he is one of two NFL players to produce at least 40 passes defensed, eight interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. (Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore is the other.)
It was only three years ago that the Ravens caught many off guard when they selected Humphrey with the No. 16 overall pick. Baltimore attempted to trade up five spots to get Lattimore, but the Saints turned down the offer. Then, when the Ravens unexpectedly picked Humphrey, they were criticized for passing over playmaking tight end O.J. Howard and explosive tackler Reuben Foster.
Humphrey quickly surpassed expectations, alleviating any concerns about technique issues and his struggles in covering the deep ball. Since 2017, Humphrey has allowed the third-lowest completion percentage among defensive backs as the nearest defender (49.8%) and even ranked higher than NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
“He’s one of those players that he can play in any era,” defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said. “How important [this deal is] I can’t express because of the type of person that he is and the player, for what he does for us.”
Coaches and teammates rave about how Humphrey plays cornerback like a linebacker. He’s aggressive in punching the ball out for a turnover and gets right in the face of wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. Humphrey has played 47.6% of his coverage snaps in press coverage, the highest rate for any defender with at least 200 targets, according to Next Gen Stats.
Humphrey developed a knack for making timely, game-changing turnovers. He was named Ravens MVP by local media in 2018 and was named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams for the first time last season. This season, Humphrey has already recorded an interception and a forced fumble (which turned into a defensive turnover) in three games.
The reason for Humphrey’s physical style? He says a high school football coach called him “a track guy,” meaning he wasn’t going to try to hit anyone.
“It was a joke, but I didn’t like that,” Humphrey said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say it affected me.”
What stands out about Humphrey is his love for football and the team. He will voluntarily jump out to play scout team special teams and run down the field at a time in practice when most star players were still in the locker room.
“Marlon is the type of player we want in Baltimore,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “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.”
This continues the Ravens’ investment in their secondary. Over the past 20 months, Baltimore has signed nickelback Tavon Young (three years, $25.8 million), cornerback Marcus Peters (three years, $42 million) and safety Chuck Clark (three years, $15.3 million) to extensions.
Now the Ravens have to determine the next star player to get under contract for the long term. Baltimore has five Pro Bowl players who are scheduled to become free agents over the next three years: NFL MVP Lamar Jackson (potential free agent in 2023), offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley (2021) and Orlando Brown Jr. (2022), outside linebacker Matthew Judon (2021) and tight end Mark Andrews (2022).
“[My dad is] always looking at my financials,” said Humphrey, who wears his father’s No. 44 jersey number. “If I do anything too crazy, he’d be on me trying to get me to take it back.”