The NFL Trading deadline is 4PM on Tuesday and thanks in part to CBS’ Jason LaCanfora, trade rumors in Baltimore are swirling and the focus is upon the position of wide receiver.
It begs the question, “Why?”
As criticized as they were coming into the season, particularly without Anquan Boldin in tow, the Ravens receiving corps has been pretty decent and hardly the team’s biggest problem.
Torrey Smith has been among the league leaders in receiving yards per game while Marlon Brown, Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss have been reliable when called upon. The Ravens offensive struggles are grounded in the poor play of the offensive line, which has tanked the running game and forced the offense into too many 2nd and 3rd and long situations making it more challenging for Joe Flacco to connect with his pass catchers.
Bringing in a new receiver like Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt would do little to help the Ravens. Receivers need time to develop a rapport with their quarterback. They need time to understand the offense and to be able to make effective pre-snap reads when facing certain blitz packages.
Moreover Nicks is regularly nicked up while Britt is a walking police blotter and a sideline malcontent.
The Browns Josh Gordon has been mentioned but the cost is prohibitive (asking price: first-round pick) plus it’s unlikely that Cleveland would deal within the AFC North.
And then there’s this silly talk about Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitz is due $2.5M in salary for the balance of the season and over $20M in salary during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Should the Cardinals trade Fitzgerald the dead cap money associated with the deal is $20M. According to a couple of sources the Cardinals have somewhere between $6-7M in cap space. Therefore a new deal would have to be structured to trade Fitzgerald since the accelerated cap hit exceeds the Cardinals’ available cap space.
Since Fitz’ paychecks will tally over $20M during the next two seasons, it’s fair to say that he’d require that amount in a signing bonus which could be paid in March, 2014 should he become a Raven. The Ravens would also have to tinker with the cap this season since the $2.5M due Fitzgerald in salary alone for the balance of the season would have to be accounted for. Currently the Ravens have only $1.9M in cap space (prior to Bernard Scott signing).
And let’s not forget that as great as he is, Fitzgerald is a 30-year-old receiver whose production has slipped a bit in recent years. Granted he hasn’t had a quality quarterback throwing his way but the fact is, the numbers are trending in the wrong direction and players just don’t get faster as they age.
For now the Ravens would be better served staying with the corps of receivers they have. Those limited cap dollars could go towards a veteran offensive lineman this season if needed or those dollars could be pushed into next season when they’ll need every resource they can muster in order to keep their starting tackles and their tight ends, all of which are unrestricted free agents in 2014.
Save those wide receiver trades for your fantasy leagues.
They’ll have a much better chance of coming to fruition there.
Brian McFarland contributed to this article
Chart courtesy of OverTheCap.com