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Late for Work: Does Stefon Diggs Trade Push Texans Past Ravens in AFC Hierarchy?

TE Isaiah Likely
TE Isaiah Likely

Does Stefon Diggs Trade Push Texans Past Ravens in AFC Hierarchy?

The Ravens beat the Houston Texans in the season opener and in the divisional round of the playoffs, but the upstart team made another big move yesterday in an attempt to narrow the gap between them and AFC elite teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore.

Houston acquired four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs (along with a 2024 sixth-round pick and a 2025 fifth rounder) from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a 2025 second-round selection. Diggs joins Nico Collins and Tank Dell to give the defending AFC South champions arguably the best wide receiver trio in the league.

With quarterback C.J. Stroud, last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year, and defensive end Will Anderson Jr., last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, as cornerstones, the Texans have loaded up this offseason. Besides Diggs, the Texans' additions include four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Danielle Hunter, Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon, and veteran defensive end Denico Autry.

CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan ranked the biggest threats in the AFC to the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, and he put the Texans second, behind the Cincinnati Bengals and ahead of the New York Jets and Ravens.

"Maybe we're a prisoner of the moment by putting the Texans this high, but it's warranted given the moves they've made this offseason," Sullivan wrote. "When you account for the talent coming in and the overall maturation of the roster from a year ago — particularly Stroud — Houston has the makings of a team that could take a considerable leap in 2024. DeMeco Ryans also proved to be a stellar head coach in his first season with the Texans, and it was a massive coup that the organization didn't lose Offensive Coordinator Bobby Slowick to a head-coaching opportunity this offseason as well. That continuity and injection of top-tier talent should make the Texans an extremely formidable opponent."

In the wake of the Diggs trade, the Texans' odds to win the Super Bowl jumped from from +2500 to +1500 on BetMGM, via The New York Post. However, they remained behind the San Francisco 49ers, Chiefs, Ravens, Detroit Lions, Bills, and Bengals. Five of the seven teams with the best odds reside in the AFC.

"It's far too early to make football predictions, but there's no doubt that the Houston hurdle on the Ravens' Super Bowl path appears to be far more formidable than it did last week," Sports Illustrated’s Geoff Magliochetti wrote.

The Ravens will play the Texans in Houston this coming season.

NFL Executive on Ravens: 'Love Their Chances, Love Them With a Chip on Their Shoulder'

The Athletic spoke with executives around the league for their thoughts on all 32 teams' offseason moves.

Included with the executives' comments was each team's average per-year salary (APY) of players who were added from other teams and players who left to sign with other teams, along with the differential between the two. Here are the numbers for the Ravens:

* APY added: $14.8M (28th)

* APY lost: $58.3M (8th)

* APY differential: -$43.5M (32nd)

One executive said of the Ravens' plethora of losses this offseason: "They are paying a quarterback now, so they are living with that and they have been converting base salaries to bonuses, so they are taking their medicine."

Despite the Ravens' roster turnover, another executive remains high on them, due in part to the addition of four-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry.

"I just love in two years what they have done on offense," the executive said. "Last year, adding [Offensive Coordinator] Todd Monken, adding the weapons to help Lamar [Jackson], and now it's like a correction. 'Hey, we got away from the run against K.C. [in the playoffs], we ain't ever doing that again. We are going to slam it on you with the ultimate finisher, the ultimate playoff guy.' Tennessee's offensive line was gawd-awful last season, and [Henry] still had over 1,000 yards with a rookie quarterback.

"Love Baltimore, love their chances, love them with a chip on their shoulder. The fact that Baltimore is tied with the two Super Bowl teams for the highest preseason win total speaks to the respect that Baltimore has."

WR Prospect Ladd McConkey Would Welcome Reunion With Monken

Some mock drafts have the Ravens selecting Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey in the first round, and NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said on "The Lounge” podcast that "Baltimore would embrace him in a big way."

If the Ravens did draft McConkey with the 30th-overall selection, he would be reunited with Monken, who was Georgia's offensive coordinator during two of McConkey's seasons with the Bulldogs. Georgia won the national championship both of those years.

McConkey spoke about potentially playing for Monken in Baltimore during an appearance on FanDuel TV's "Up & Adams."

"Yeah, it would be cool," McConkey said. "Heck yeah."

McConkey also said of Monken: "He got the best out of me and we won some games. He'll get the best out of you. His big thing is [that] everything matters, and that's from walk-throughs, to school, to meetings, to practice. I know he probably kept that motto going into the NFL. He produced this year and I know they're probably only going to get better."

McConkey is projected to be drafted late in the first round or early in the second round. The Ravens, who have selected a wide receiver in the first round in three of the past five drafts, are almost certain to use at least one of their nine picks this year on a wide receiver, although it would be somewhat surprising if they took a receiver in the first round again.

ESPN Insider's Two-Round Mock Draft Has Ravens Addressing Biggest Needs

ESPN insider Field Yates released his two-round mock draft. He has the Ravens addressing their two biggest needs, an offensive lineman and edge rusher:

Round 1 (No. 30): BYU OT Kingsley Suamataia

"Baltimore will be filling at least one spot along the offensive line in the draft following the trade of Morgan Moses and departure of John Simpson in free agency. In fact, both tackle spots bear monitoring as Ronnie Stanley reworked his deal this offseason and is now scheduled to be a free agent in 2025. Suamataia moves extremely well and can open lanes in space, but he might require some time to develop."

Round 2 (No. 62): Penn State EDGE Adisa Isaac

"The Ravens need help at pass-rusher, since Jadeveon Clowney signed in Carolina and Kyle Van Noy is still unsigned. The explosive Isaac had 7.5 sacks last season, and his 16.8% pressure rate ranked seventh in the nation."

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