With the numerous injuries that have occurred to Ravens’ cornerbacks along with the two game suspension handed to Cary Williams, many fans are clamoring for Ozzie Newsome to make a trade to sure up the secondary. The popular name in trade rumors is Willis McGahee. The rationale behind moving McGahee is that he can be considered a luxury since the Ravens also have Ray Rice at tailback.
To better understand this conundrum, let’s take a step back and look at the Ravens’ cornerback depth: Fabian Washington (recovering from ACL injury), Lardarius Webb (recovering from ACL injury), Chris Carr, Cary Williams (2 game suspension), Travis Fisher, Prince Miller, Doug Dutch, Chris Hawkins, KJ Gerard, Domonique Foxworth (injured reserve).
This group leaves a lot be desired, with 2 players recovering from ACL injuries, a player who cannot play until Week 3, a journeyman, an undrafted rookie and a few other hopefuls. So yes, this group needs help and perhaps dealing from an area of strength is the way to go, right?
Dealing McGahee arguably the team’s MVB (Most Valuable Backup) makes sense doesn’t it?
Not so fast…
When trades and dealing from a position of strength, fans often look at who the team has in front of a backup player. However, the true test of whether or not a player is really expendable is if the players behind him on the depth chart can become capable No. 2’s. If McGahee is traded, the Ravens are just one sprained ankle of Ray Rice away from Jalen Parmele and Curtis Steele becoming hot topics on fantasy football websites. Le’Ron McClain could be moved over but then that chips away at the team’s depth at that fullback.
Not enough can be said about the value of having Willis McGahee on the roster. In today’s NFL, it is almost essential that a team have two capable running backs and McGahee is an extremely talented player to have as a backup. In the recent past, teams with two quality rushers have performed well in the playoffs. Seven of the last ten Super Bowl champions have had at least two running backs amass over 500 yards rushing. While it would be nice to have players like Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, Darrelle Revis, and Nnamdi Asomugha, none of them have a Super Bowl ring.
What is also often forgotten is that the Ravens have a strong group of safeties in Tom Zbikowski, Dawan Landry, Ken Hamlin, and Haruki Nakamura to backup these corners. Plus, a gentleman named Ed Reed is slated to return at some point during the season to make the Ravens’ five deep at safety.
If a trade were to happen, it would make more sense to see a player like Mark Clayton or Antwan Barnes leave. It would be a softer blow to the roster to lose your 4th wide receiver or 3rd outside linebacker than to lose your 2nd running back, especially if all the Ravens get in return is another nickel or dime corner. Clayton has Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith, David Reed, and Justin Harper behind him, who all are Ravens’ draft picks. Barnes has Edgar Jones, Prescott Burgess, Jameel McClain (if moved over from ILB), and possibly Sergio Kindle to replace him.
A trade might be necessary to improve the roster and strengthen the secondary. But trading Willis McGahee is not the answer. That actually weakens the roster.
Let’s see if an improved offense and pass rush can keep the burden off of the Ravens’ corners until they get healthier and Ed Reed returns.