The weeks leading up to the NFL’s midseason trade deadline are often filled with rumors and speculation. As contending teams look for ways to put the finishing touches on their rosters, teams clearly out of contention will likely be looking to sell their coveted assets for future draft capital or at least immediate cap alleviation.
With Nov. 2 less than a week away, the Ravens are still legitimate contenders despite suffering a discouraging loss to the Bengals this past Sunday, but some wonder if they will be buying, selling, a little of both, or neither ahead of the deadline.
The Ravens have already been busy on the transaction wire during the early portion of the year after a rash of injuries before the start of the regular season. For a team without an abundance of available cap space but still in need of upgrades and reinforcements at some key positions, their trade options are somewhat limited.
While it was reported a few weeks ago that a handful of teams around the league were calling them to inquire about the availability of some of their running backs, they really can’t afford to part with any player assets. However, they are currently slated to have 10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft including a whopping nine in the first four rounds so they do have enough bargaining chips to acquire the right player at the right price.
In his first two years on the job, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta has not been hesitant to pull the trigger on a trade at the midseason deadline in order to address a glaring deficiency on the roster without giving up much in return.
In 2019, he was able to finesse All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters from the Los Angles Rams in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick and reserve linebacker Kenny Young, who was just traded to the Denver Broncos on Monday. Last year, he only had to give up a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings to obtain Pro Bowl pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
While the Peters acquisition has bared the most fruit of the two, both were incredible bargains considering the caliber of players they received. Each instance was a prime example of the right player for the right price. By waiting up until the deadline, even though they likely could’ve used their services a bit earlier, the Ravens only had to pay a portion of their remaining salary for the year while reaping the benefits of getting an instant difference-maker.
Through the first seven games of the 2021 seasons, it’s clear that the Ravens have a glaring need at offensive tackle now that All-Pro blindside protector Ronnie Stanley is set to undergo a second season-ending ankle surgery. They could also use some more juice at the running back position as their current backfield committee of elder statesmen and former undrafted free agents have been inconsistent and lackluster at times.
Any player at either position would likely have to fit the criteria of a young player still playing on a rookie contract or a veteran on an inexpensive short-term deal to be considered a serious option worth exploring.
Here is a short list or potential targets that fit the mold:
OT Andre Dillard, Philadelphia Eagles -
The former first-round pick was selected at No. 22 overall out of Washington State in the 2019 NFL Draft to be the successor to Jason Peters as the next franchise left tackle in the City of Brotherly Love. However, they have since decided to go in another direction with former rugby star and 2018 seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata instead. While Dillard has struggled with injuries to start his career, he’s played well when he’s been on the field and this season has shown that he possesses the positional versatility to play inside at guard if needed.
RB Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts -
The former 1,000-yard rusher mutually agreed with the former Baltimore professional football franchise to seek a trade a month ago. While they haven’t gotten a deal done yet, the Ravens were one of the teams mentioned as a potential landing spot when trade rumors about Mack first surfaced. He’s been active for five of the Colts’ first seven games and has run for 101 yards on 28 sporadic carries.
OT Morgan Moses, New York Jets -
The eighth-year veteran has extensive starting experience and while he has never made a Pro Bowl, Moses has been one of the better right tackles in the league for most of his career. He is more of a natural at the position than any player currently on the Ravens’ roster, including Patrick Mekari who has played at a high level but suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half of the team’s Week 7 loss to the Bengals.
He fits the criteria of a seasoned vet on a cheap short-term contract perfectly since he signed a one-year deal with the Jets this offseason worth just $3.6 million in base salary with a maximum value of $5 million if playing time incentives are met. Trading for him makes perfect sense for Ravens because he’d address arguably their biggest need for pennies on the dollar.
If the Ravens aren’t able to get a deal done for Moses then they still might be able to pry away a player on a rookie contract from the lowly 1-5 Jets to provide depth at tackle in third-year pro Chuma Edoga. The 2019 third-round pick started 12 of the 19 games he appeared in his first two years in the league before the Jets brought in Moses this past offseason.
RB Phillip Lindsay, Houston Texans -
The two-time 1,000-yard rusher who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2018 signed a one-year deal with the Texans worth $3.25 million this offseason. He is currently being underutilized in Houston’s crowded backfield that is headlined by former Raven Mark Ingram.
Lindsay only has 97 yards on 38 carries so he wouldn’t command anything more than a late-round pick that might even come with conditions. The Ravens pursued him in undrafted free agency following the 2018 NFL Draft out of Colorado before he ultimately decided to go with his hometown team. While his 2.6 yards per carry through the first seven games of the season isn’t indicative of his explosiveness and playmaking ability, he still possesses both and it is more of an indictment of the woeful offense he sparingly plays in.
RB Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -
The 2018 second-round pick is playing in the last year of his rookie deal and has fallen out of favor in the backfield rotation for the reigning Super Bowl champions. The ascension of Leonard Fournette as the featured back in Tampa has limited Jones’ role significantly. He ranks second on the team in rushing but that’s not saying much since he’s only carried the ball 41 times for 181 yards. He currently averages 4.4 yards per carry. Jones has the burst to explode into the second and third level of the defense as well as the long speed to break off long scoring runs when he does.
While some might wonder why there weren’t any defensive players listed above after such an abysmal performance this past week, personnel hasn’t been nearly as much of a problem as execution and simply tackling better. The team also has reinforcements on the way. Veteran defensive tackle Derek Wolfe was designated to return from injured reserve on Tuesday and cornerback Chris Westry is currently on injured reserve recovering from a non-season-threatening knee injury.
DeCosta could opt to let the deadline pass by and not make any moves to acquire players via trade but I doubt that the Ravens will be sellers and wouldn’t be surprised if they did nothing at all.
Will the Ravens buy, sell or stand pat at the trade deadline?
This poll is closed
Let it pass