The Ravens are 1-4 but that doesn't mean the Ravens can't make trades. When a team like the Ravens are struggling, it would be the best decision to keep draft picks and save them for the future. This case might not be one of those times.
The Ravens have to proactive right now regardless of how the season goes. Everyone says "keep the draft picks" but the problem is, the Ravens can't solve all of their issues in the 2016 NFL Draft. Some of the players they might like probably won't be available in free agency next season.
As of right now, the Ravens have 11 unrestricted free agents in 2016. The Ravens also have 45 players under contract in 2016.
Here is the unrestricted free agent list according to Brian McFarland of RussellStreetReport.com:
Every hypothetical I write from here on out is just speculation as nothing is officially set.
Take a look at the exclusive rights free agents and the restricted free agents below:
Let's say the NFL extends the salary cap to 150 million. The Ravens, according to McFarland, would have $136,622,571 committed to players as of right now under the salary cap for next season.
That would leave the Ravens with 13.7 million in cap space to start off with. That doesn't include the remaining 2015 cap space that can be rolled over into 2016. That also doesn't include Joe Flacco's contract which is expected to be restructured.
Now, Flacco's contract will be objective number one entering the 2016 offseason. Assume the Ravens get Flacco's contract done first and that creates an additional 9 million in cap space. That would leave the Ravens with 22.7 million to work with before they do anything else.
Out of the unrestricted free agent list above (the first picture), let's say the Ravens extend contracts for Marshal Yanda, Justin Tucker, Morgan Cox and Chris Givens. Every other unrestricted free agent is allowed to walk. Those contracts could leave the Ravens with 15-17 million left in cap space.
The Ravens would still have room for one big signing in free agency. The question is, who and at what position?
On defense, cornerbacks such as Leon Hall and Sean Smith are free agents. Safeties such as Eric Weddle and Eric Berry are free agents as well. As good as those players may be, it would be a long shot to sign them.
My colleague Nathan Beaucage made Excellent Points about why the Ravens wouldn't be trading for Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery anytime soon as he is currently on a one year deal and is set to be an unrestricted free agent for 2016.
Jeffery currently has a 1.4 million cap number. And Jeffery would be the best wide receiver on the market. The wide receiver market in 2016 outside of Jeffery is pretty weak.
As much as Ravens fans and possibly the Ravens themselves would like Jeffery, it takes two to make a deal. The Bears would have to have an attractive offer to part with Jeffery in the middle of the season.
But at the same time, the Ravens have the package that many teams wouldn't have.
As of right now, the Ravens,( including compensation picks in 2016 by Torrey Smith and Pernell McPhee leaving in the offseason) will most likely have seven draft picks in the first-four rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.
With those seven draft picks in the first-four rounds, is it enough for the Ravens to trade away a third round pick and a fourth round pick for Jeffery? Who knows?
But if the Ravens were to succeed and acquire Jeffery, they would have 15-17 million to spend in 2016 under my hypothetical while giving him a new contract.
On top of that, the Ravens always have an opportunity to trade down in the 2016 draft and acquire more draft picks. These are just options.
The salary cap number for next season is still up in the air, so the numbers I calculated doesn't mean much. But the important thing is, regardless of how this season goes for the Ravens, they still have ammo to make something happen.