In recent weeks, speculation regarding the NFL trade deadline has grown, and this year, the Ravens are included in the rumors. It started with Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey, who Baltimore coveted in the Ronnie Stanley draft, but has continued with a number of other Ravens trade options that I’ll work through in this article.
For the first time in a while, with Eric DeCosta at the helm after years of Ozzie Newsome, it legitimately feels like the Ravens will actually be one of the more active teams in the NFL, like the Philadelphia Eagles have been over the last few years.
Here’s why that’s the case: Lamar Jackson is on a rookie deal, meaning more cap space can be dedicated to other positions, and the organization recognized that they failed to surround a young Joe Flacco with complementary pieces, a mistake they won’t make again.
Now, though the Ravens have holes to fill and probably could make a deal happen, many believe being active on the trade market this year would be foolish, as the team probably isn’t one player away from being a Super Bowl contender.
I agree with that belief but still am able to justify making a splash trade, to an extent. Here, I’ll explain why and offer a few names I’d be looking at, if I were DeCosta.
Although Baltimore is more than just a Jalen Ramsey away from a title, the team is young, talented, and building an identity. Thus, if the Ravens are to make a major move to add to this squad, it should be someone who’s young, has immense potential, and would help the team find itself.
Trading a high draft pick for a veteran pass rusher like Derek Wolfe or corner like Chris Harris would infuriate me, as the move would compromise the team’s current assets to win now, which the team isn’t ready to do.
At the same time, trading a high draft pick for a young difference maker will give the Ravens the opportunity to secure improvement at a position of need for years to come. Here are a few of the players I think would make sense:
WR Stefon Diggs – Vikings
The Ravens would likely have to give up a first-round pick or more to get the talented wideout, but he’d almost instantly eliminate any major need at the position for the next few years. Lamar Jackson hasn’t enjoyed much production from the outside other than Marquise Brown, but adding Diggs would make the offense even more dangerous. Diggs could stay in Baltimore for half a decade, if they wanted him to.
EDGE Yannick Ngakoue – Jaguars
For me, pass-rusher is the most important position for DeCosta to improve. With Ngakoue, the Ravens would do that instantly, getting the defense a premier rusher on the edge to match Matt Judon and take pressure off of Pernell McPhee. In doing so, every aspect of the defense would get better. The only issue with Ngakoue: he’d be another decision to make come free agency. He is an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
DE Solomon Thomas – 49ers
Similar to Ngakoue, Thomas would help provide pass-rush to a defense that has severely lacked it. Unlike Ngakoue, though, Thomas is widely considered a draft bust. He’s only had 5 sacks since being drafted 3rd overall in 2017, but he has a ton of potential and has been mismanaged in San Francisco. The Ravens could slide Thomas inside as a 3-4 interior rusher, which they lack this year. Still young, Thomas easily may grow into his potential for a defense like Baltimore’s.
CB Jalen Ramsey/Patrick Peterson – Jaguars/Cardinals
I don’t think either of these trades will happen due to the impending return of Jimmy Smith, who could help solidify the back-end, but these guys could be options at DeCosta’s disposal. If I had to choose between the two, though, I’d go with Peterson, who is in the last year of his contract and shouldn’t command as much locker room attention as Ramsey would. Though he’s slightly older, he’d play at a high level and may cost Baltimore less.
I don’t think it’s out of the question for Baltimore to acquire an impact player at the trade deadline. I think, ultimately, it might make sense if it’s someone young. As for guys like Von Miller, I wouldn’t get your hopes up, but hopefully these names will keep you somewhat intrigued for what’s to come.