Eisenberg: Not Every Trade Is a Steal


I'm sure there were aspects of the Ravens' trade with the Kansas City Chiefs that some fans didn't love.

The Ravens reportedly had to give up a second-round pick in the 2021 draft as well as tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the centerpiece of the deal. The first-round pick they reportedly got back was nice, for sure, but not an eye-popper, the No. 31 overall selection.

But those concerns didn't keep them from making the deal.

Yes, a Pro Bowl tackle and a second-round pick is a lot to give up. (The Ravens also reportedly gave up a 2022 sixth-round pick.) But they reportedly got a lot in return – a Day 1 pick, a Day 2 pick and two Day 3 picks is quite a haul.

We won't know for years which side "won," if either did, as questions abound. Can the Chiefs sign Brown to a long-term deal or does he become a one-year rental? That could make a difference. Does he stay healthy and play as well there as he did here? That could make a difference.

Do the Ravens draft difference-making contributors with their picks? Does GM Eric DeCosta trade up for a premier prospect or trade back and increase the value of the picks?

The answers to those questions will factor into grading the trade in the long run, but until everything plays out, all we know for sure is both sides gave up quite a bit and received quite a bit. That's why it's called, you know, a trade.

Baltimore fans have grown accustomed to skipping gleefully through a field of lilies after DeCosta makes a deal. (Figuratively speaking, of course, unless you live near a lily field and like to skip.) He has fleeced his trade partner on a handful of occasions.

Remember when he got a fifth-round pick from the Vikings for Kaare Vedvik, a kicker who had never played in a regular-season game and was cut 20 days later? That was a steal.

Remember when he identified two different teams in salary-dump mode and obtained a pair of defensive cornerstones, Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters, giving up just a pair of fifth-round picks and a reserve linebacker in exchange? Those were steals.

Remember when he received a fourth-round pick for Jermaine Eluemunor, an offensive lineman on the roster bubble? That was a great deal. (Full disclosure, DeCosta also threw in a sixth-round pick.)

But every trade isn't so one-sided. In fact, most aren't.

As much as you'd like to believe other teams are run by dupes who can be taken advantage of, they aren't. Most GMs know what they're doing and play hardball.

What usually happens in a trade is each team gives up and receives assets of somewhat similar value, with many factors involved, including need. That happened when the Ravens traded Hayden Hurst for the second-round pick that became J.K. Dobbins, and it was also the case last week.

Brown wants to be a left tackle and the Ravens already have a good one, which meant Brown was only going to be in Baltimore so much longer. The Ravens wanted maximum value for a player they'd drafted and groomed. Meanwhile, the Chiefs wanted a tackle to protect Patrick Mahomes' blind side.

We don't know what other offers the Ravens received, if any, but the Chiefs prevailed because they forked out enough of what the Ravens wanted, i.e., draft capital.

That made it, you know, a trade.

Occasionally you do find partners so desperate to deal that they careen off the rails of common sense. In 1974, the Packers gave the Rams two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a third-round pick for a sore-armed, 34-year-old quarterback who had been benched. (The quarterback was John Hadl and it's a shame Twitter didn't exist.) In 1999, the Saints gave the Redskins an entire year of picks for the right to draft Ricky Williams.

It would've been great if, along those lines, the Ravens' partner in the Brown deal had offered more and accepted less in return. It happens. But not often.

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