Jason Pierre-Paul Is Looking Like a Steal for Ravens
It took two visits over a three-month span before the Ravens signed veteran pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, but it hasn't taken long for the three-time Pro Bowler to make an impact.
In his two games as a Raven, Pierre-Paul has a sack, a quarterback hit, a tackle for loss, and two passes defensed. Despite having no training camp or preseason, the 33-year-old has played nearly 80 percent of defensive snaps, including 86 percent in his season debut in Week 4.
"Pierre-Paul has hit the ground running in his Ravens career and is already making his contract look like a steal for the organization," Ebony Bird’s Justin Fried wrote. "The Ravens officially signed Pierre-Paul to a one-year contract with a base salary of just $1.35 million. With incentives, Pierre-Paul could earn over $5 million this season, but his cap hit won't climb above $1.15 million. That's quite the bargain for a player who might already be the team's most efficient edge rusher."
Pierre-Paul has been a godsend for a defense that had been having difficulty getting pressure on the quarterback and was extremely thin at outside linebacker because of injuries.
"The Ravens have faced a juggling act at outside linebacker all season with guys getting hurt, practice squad players being elevated and veterans being brought in," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "About a month and a half into the season, there are signs of that position morphing into a strength by season's end. One of the biggest reasons is the early impact of veteran Jason Pierre-Paul.
"Signed as a free agent just two weeks ago, Pierre-Paul is still working his way into game shape and learning the team's defense. However, that hasn't stopped him from contributing. Sunday, he had two tackles and a sack of Joe Burrow and knocked down Burrow's pass attempts on consecutive plays."
NFL Network's Brian Baldinger said: "It sure didn't take long, maybe a couple of days, for Jason Pierre-Paul to put these pads on and get back to what we're used to seeing. He can still move."
Pierre-Paul entered this season with 91.5 career sacks, including 9.5 in 2020 with the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Playing with a torn rotator cuff last year, Pierre-Paul was limited to 2.5 sacks in 12 games, the first time since 2015 that he did not have at least seven sacks. He underwent shoulder surgery in February.
"After Pierre-Paul signed with the Ravens, he told reporters he played all last season with essentially one arm because of shoulder and biceps injuries," Zrebiec wrote. "He said he felt like a different guy after having offseason shoulder surgery. He's shown enough … to suggest he should get better as he becomes more comfortable."
Pierre-Paul getting even better is not the only reason for optimism regarding the outside linebacker position. Tyus Bowser, who started every game last season, and second-round pick David Ojabo — both of whom are coming back from torn Achilles injuries — practiced for the first time this season yesterday.
Eventually this season, the Ravens could have an outside linebacker corps that consists of Justin Houston (who has missed the past two games with a groin injury), Odafe Oweh, Pierre-Paul, Bowser, and Ojabo.
ESPN's Trade Proposals Have Ravens Acquiring Bears RB, Jets WR
With the NFL's in-season trading window officially open, ESPN's Bill Barnwell proposed 15 "realistic" trades, two of which involve the Ravens as buyers.
In one proposal, he has Baltimore acquiring Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round pick. In his other proposal, the Ravens get New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims for a 2024 conditional seventh-round pick.
Montgomery, a 2019 third-round pick, has rushed for at least 800 yards and six touchdowns every season heading into 2022. He ran for career-highs of 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020.
"[Montgomery] is a free agent after this season, and the people who drafted him no longer work for the organization," Barnwell wrote. "Khalil Herbert also has excelled in Montgomery's absence and deserves a larger role. With the Bears likely to shop in free agency next offseason, they probably will not be in position to gain a compensatory pick for Montgomery when he leaves. The same isn't true for the Ravens, who typically mine the league's compensatory formula for all it's worth.
"The Ravens renting Montgomery for the rest of the season would probably net them a sixth- or seventh-round compensatory pick in 2024."
Barnwell cited questions about the Ravens' overall health at running back as to why they should be interested in renting Montgomery for a partial season. J.K. Dobbins is two games into his return from extensive knee surgery; Gus Edwards (ACL tear) returned to practice last week; and Justice Hill is dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of this past Sunday night's game. Veterans Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis are averaging 2.9 yards per carry on 29 attempts.
Mims, a 2020 second-round pick, has been a healthy scratch for every game in 2022. He has 31 catches for 490 yards and no touchdowns in 20 career games.
"It's clear that Mims isn't going to live up to his pre-draft expectations, but I still wonder whether he might be worth a flyer for a team like the Ravens," Barnwell wrote. "Devin Duvernay has been more impressive than expected as Baltimore's second wideout, but the Ravens could still use another receiver to compete with players like Tylan Wallace and James Proche. Mims ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, so he has the speed to make teams worry downfield, and he was regarded as a solid blocker coming out of school, which is an essential for any receiver in Baltimore's offense."
SB Nation Names Lamar Jackson MVP for Season's First Quarter
SB Nation’s JP Acosta handed out individual awards for the first quarter of the season and went with Lamar Jackson for MVP, referring to the Ravens quarterback as "both the most exciting and most valuable player this season."
Acosta gave Jackson the nod over the Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen, and Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts.
"Jackson is sixth in total EPA/play this season, while also running for more yards than any other Ravens ball carrier has — COMBINED," Acosta wrote. "He's always been a very good pocket passer, but now Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman has put Jackson under center and used more play action, while allowing Lamar to cook on early downs."
On a side note, Dobbins was one of three players Acosta considered for Comeback Player of the Year, along with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (Acosta's pick) and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.