Stefon Diggs Is 'Highest Impact Trade' Ravens Could Make
Whenever there's a big-name player reportedly on the trading block, it's natural for fans to hope their team pursues the player, and for pundits to speculate about which teams are a good fit.
The player most often linked to the Ravens in recent weeks is Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but another name has emerged as the Oct. 29 trade deadline approaches: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler is of the opinion the Ravens should "seriously consider" trading for Diggs.
"At first glance the Baltimore Ravens trading for Stefon Diggs doesn't seem like the move they need to make. The defense has been the problem while the offense ranks among the best in the NFL," Schisler wrote. "That being said, the Ravens need another go-to weapon in the passing attack. The Ravens can't make one trade and fix a bunch of defensive problems. Trading for Stefon Diggs would be the highest impact trade they could make."
Schisler believes the Ravens are too dependent on wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews in the passing attack and need another pass-catching playmaker such as Diggs, the former Maryland star who had 102 receptions for 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns with the Vikings last season.
"If the defense has to worry about Diggs it adds a whole lot for the Ravens," Schisler wrote. "It makes Brown and Andrews more viable in the passing game. It allows Willie Snead to become the sneakily good fourth option in the passing game.
"This move would help the offense now, however Diggs could be a big part of the future. Under his current contract with the Vikings he wouldn't become a free agent until 2024. Under the assumption that [Lamar] Jackson is the long-term answer at quarterback, the Ravens have a spending window that matches his rookie contract. Diggs would be worth the sizable cap hit. The combination of Jackson, Diggs and Brown could be dangerous for the rest of the AFC North."
Russell Street Report’s Adam Bonaccorsi also thinks the Ravens should target a wide receiver, although he doesn't specifically mention Diggs.
"If you get Lamar a proven vet who can run solid routes and separate, the dynamic of the offense suddenly changes," Bonaccorsi wrote. "Now teams have to fear the run game, Lamar's legs, Hollywood's speed, the tight end triplets and a proven vet receiver. Even the trickle-down effect of adding a good receiver could give rookie Miles Boykin better matchups and improve his stat lines (for the record, this whole 'need a wideout' thing isn't me knocking Boykin either; he's just not ready yet)."
Bonaccorsi acknowledged that the Ravens' biggest needs are on defense, but he wrote adding a wide receiver makes sense because "the best defense (in the modern era NFL) is a good offense."
Before Ravens fans get too excited about the possibility of Diggs exchanging one purple jersey for another, keep in mind it hasn't been established the Vikings are interested in trading him. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, for one, believes "a Diggs trade is unrealistic."
"The chances that the Vikings trade Diggs, at least during the regular season, are slim," Barnwell wrote. "He's a valuable player on a team that expects to contend for a Super Bowl." If the Vikings were to consider trading Diggs, Barnwell wrote he "can't imagine the Vikings taking anything less than a first-round pick as part of the deal."
Eric Berry Would Be 'Fantastic Veteran Addition'
In addition to all the trade speculation, there has also been chatter about whether the Ravens should sign former Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro safety Eric Berry, who is a free agent. The talk has ramped up in light of Ravens safety Tony Jefferson suffering a season-ending injury (torn ACL) last Sunday.
Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw believes Berry, who was released by the Chiefs in March after nine seasons, would be a valuable acquisition for the Ravens.
"There was once a time when Eric Berry and Earl Thomas reigned supreme in the NFL as the league's top-two safeties," Bradshaw wrote. "They were interchangeable as to who was better, but they excelled and looked to be future Hall of Famers. Teams would dream about having one of them on their team, let alone both. That could become a reality for the Baltimore Ravens.
"Of course, adding Eric Berry in 2019 isn't the same as adding him just a few seasons ago. Nonetheless, Berry still has some juice left in the tank and could be a fantastic veteran addition to the Ravens defense."
Bradshaw contends Berry's significant injury history (he's played just three games total the past two seasons) and age (30) should not deter the Ravens from signing him.
"In Eric Berry, you have a dude who survived cancer and has come back stronger than ever from it," Bradshaw wrote. "Berry has torn both his Achilles tendon and his ACL and still played at a high-level. Don't let his past or age fool you; Berry is still a high-quality safety.
"To add on to this, Eric Berry strikes fear into the heart of opposing offenses. Not only is Berry a surprisingly good player with the ball in his hands, but he is an absolute thumper. Berry punishes receivers who dare march in his direction."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Kyle P Barber took the opposing viewpoint regarding whether the Ravens should sign Berry.
"Berry isn't on a roster due to money, I'd wager," Barber wrote. "He's not playing due to turning 31 in two months and still recovering from his torn Achilles and the follow-up diagnosis, Haglund's deformity," which is a bony enlargement on the back of the heel.
"Say Berry is on the low-end of Haglund's deformity and only experiencing minor discomfort," Barber added. "He still has to learn the Ravens defense. That's not an easy read, it's a complex scheme where Berry needs to learn the entire system."
Barber believes Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott sharing time as Jefferson's replacement is a better option. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week he is “very confident” in the two young safeties.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec also thinks giving Clark and Elliott an opportunity is preferable to signing a veteran such as Berry.
"I'm not sure I see the point of bringing in another veteran, who hasn't played much football in recent years and would need to learn the defense," Zrebiec wrote. "Why not just let young safeties Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott, who the Ravens have been looking to get on the field more anyway, play in Jefferson's spot? My guess is that's what the Ravens will do while possibly bringing in a less-heralded reserve safety type who can also help on special teams."
Ravens' Offensive Line Ranked No. 3 in NFL
The Ravens' offensive line has received some criticism after surrendering nine sacks over the past two games, but the unit was ranked third-best in the league by NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling.
"Ranked first in pass protection and sixth in run-blocking by [Pro Football Focus], the line is the heart of a Ravens offense that may be as explosive as any in franchise history," Wesseling wrote. "Their streak of nine straight regular-season games with at least 100 more rushing yards than the opponent was stopped in Week 3, when they still gashed Kansas City's defense for 203 yards on the ground.
"The pass blocking has been almost as impressive, leaving Lamar Jackson enough time to run into a series of figure-eight sacks in the past couple of weeks. While it all starts with seven-time Pro Bowl selection Marshal Yanda at guard, the tackle tag-team of Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown might just rival [Terron] Armstead and [Ryan] Ramczyk [of the New Orleans Saints] as the best in the business."
The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer noted that the offensive line isn't entirely to blame for the sacks the past two games. He cited Jackson's proclivity for holding onto the ball in an attempt to make a big play and game situations as factors.
"[Jackson] is capable of superhuman feats, and this Ravens offense would be one-dimensional without his run-pass threat," Shaffer wrote. "Jackson's self-belief can lead to trouble, though.
"Running backs Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill have been mostly solid in pass protection this season, with Ingram in particular delivering some expert takeout blocks. But when the Ravens find themselves in deep holes late in games, as they did against Cleveland, their running game becomes an afterthought. Defenses adjust accordingly."
M&T Bank Stadium Among Testing Grounds for 5G Mobile Rollout
M&T Bank Stadium is one of 14 NFL stadiums being used by Verizon to assess how 5G network-enabled phones operate at test deployments.
Using transmission speeds projected to be about 10 times as fast as current mobile technology and near-zero network latency, the NFL is hoping that 5G will be the thing that helps attract the next generation of fans seemingly hard-wired to the devices on a constant basis,"[quote] Sports Business Professional's Rick Snider wrote. "The broad hope is that 5G networks installed in football stadiums and enabling a wide array of real-time fantasy, wagering, and content experiences will lure people away from the televisions at home and to attend games in person."
Ravens Executive Vice President Kevin Byrne told Snider: "Speed in getting information is key. People at homes have a strong signal with only a few people using it. Stadiums are 70,000 people, TV network crews, and radio that drain your WiFi system. You constantly have to invest in ways to get information to your fans so they can check their fantasy teams. 5G is ahead of the curve."