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Late for Work: The Case for and Against Ravens Potentially Trading for Saquon Barkley

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023.

The Case for and Against Ravens Potentially Trading for Saquon Barkley

ESPN analyst and former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott proposed a trade that has Baltimore acquiring New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley for a second-round pick. 

"I think this would be equivalent to what happened last year when San Francisco traded for Christian McCaffrey," Scott said on "Get Up." "Trade for Saquon Barkley and I think that puts fear in Kansas City and Cincinnati."

The Baltimore Banner’s Kyle Goon looked at the pros and cons of the Ravens trading for Barkley, who is seeking a long-term deal. 

"Trading for a high-priced running back hoping to land a big contract is not exactly a popular move these days for NFL teams," Goon wrote. "But there are some pretty obvious draws to this idea, actually, if you entertain the argument. 

"J.K. Dobbins, a rushing and receiving threat, lasted just a half of a game, and his contract future is looking pretty cloudy. The Ravens have been banged up in the backfield all year, resorting to Melvin Gordon and Kenyan Drake at times. Although the Ravens boast a top-five rushing attack by yards, they don't generate a lot of yards after contact. They have fumbling issues, and besides being a three-time 1,000-yard back, one thing Barkley does is protect the ball." 

As for the arguments against the trade, Goon said they are "pretty numerous." 

"Barkley has a dicey injury history and has missed games this season with an ankle injury," Goon wrote. "He'd likely be a rental, because the Ravens would have to extend or tag him next season if they didn't want him to become a free agent. The explosiveness that was so awe-inspiring in Barkley's rookie year has been curtailed slightly: His yards per rush (3.9) and yards per rush after contact (1.2) are both declining, and honestly not that much different than Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. 

"The most compelling argument for Barkley would be that he could do more with the Ravens blocking than Edwards or Hill can, and I actually agree. However, the best argument for not making the trade has nothing to do with the running back position, but the opportunity cost. The Ravens probably should make use of their best trade assets in a position of greater need, and I can think of no greater need than edge rusher at the moment.  … A great running back would make the Ravens a better team, but they're a pretty good rushing team as is. If there is an either/or choice, shoring up the defensive front seems like a smarter bet." 

Barkley, 26, has rushed for 207 yards and a touchdown on 53 carries in three games this season. He has caught 13 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Last season, the two-time Pro Bowler ran for a career-high 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns and had 57 receptions for 338 yards in 16 games. 

What Ravens Need to Do to Be Serious Super Bowl Contender

The Ravens' defense is No. 2 in yards allowed and No. 4 in points allowed, but if Baltimore is to be a serious Super Bowl contender, the offense will need to continue to take steps forward, Press Box’s Glenn Clark wrote

"It's not unfair to suggest that the Ravens have to be more consistent offensively to break through among the other title contenders. But it would be unfair to suggest there isn't reason to think they're still improving," Clark wrote. "In their Week 6 win over the Titans, the Ravens comfortably outgained Tennessee 360-233 but went just 1-6 in red-zone opportunities. That would be more problematic if the Titans weren't one of the best red-zone defenses in football and the Ravens, despite their struggles in London, weren't still among the best red-zone offenses. 

"A woeful performance by Ravens pass-catchers against the Steelers in Week 5 conspired to hurt their overall efficiency, but those drop issues have not existed in other games. They still need to establish a more obvious offensive identity. They're not particularly good at the 'bully ball' style of running they had so much success with under Greg Roman. But there is much more to be encouraged than discouraged about at this point." 

Not everyone is encouraged by what they've seen from the Ravens offense. An anonymous NFL executive told The Athletic's Mike Sando that the shift to a more balanced attack under Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken is not a change for the better. 

"The defense keeps them in it, but I don't necessarily think this offensive change is going to make them any better when it counts," the executive said. "Lamar Jackson does not appear as dynamic as a runner, but in this offense, he does not need to be. He is regulated to pass from the pocket, but you are taking away the biggest weapon the offense had when you do that. Odell (Beckham) is not that guy anymore. Who are you truly afraid of on that offense? Nobody but Lamar, and if you are not using Lamar in a certain capacity, he becomes just like the rest of these quarterbacks around the league — hit or miss." 

Jackson Named The Ringer's Offensive Player of the Week

Even though the Ravens' offense only scored one touchdown in Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans and managed just two field goals in the second half, Jackson was named Offensive Player of the Week by The Ringer’s Ben Solak

 "It wasn't an astonishing game in the stat sheet: 21-of-30 passes, 223 yards, a touchdown, a pick; 13 carries for 62 yards on the ground. But it certainly feels like Lamar yanked an unwilling Ravens offense up and down the field to a win over the Titans, who always play the Ravens tough," Solak wrote. 

Solak cited Jackson's scramble for a first down on third-and-three deep in Titans territory late in the third quarter as a prime example of the quarterback's spectacular playmaking ability. 

"Few quarterbacks get to just stand in front of free rushers the way Jackson does," Solak wrote. "He's the league's greatest offensive safety net. Now if the Ravens could just fix their drops and their red zone offense (very easy things to do, of course), they could start putting up some real numbers on offense."

Kyle Van Noy Out to Prove There Are Older Players Who 'Still Got It'

Veteran outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy has made an immediate impact in his three games with the Ravens this season. Van Noy, 32, said he is out to prove that older players can still be significant contributors during an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show." 

"I feel like right now I'm playing really good football," Van Noy said, "and I'm trying to put on for the older guys that kind of get washed out of the NFL where GM's want to go younger and they think that's the way, but I'm trying to prove to people that are in these roles and coaches that kind of looked over me, I think you all need to pay attention to some of these older guys. They still got it."

Here are some additional clips from Van Noy's appearance:

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