Four Reasons Ravens Shouldn't Make Another Trade
It's crazy. Just last week I was writing about TheMMQB's Peter King and his four-point argument in favor of the Ravens making another trade.
Well, nine days later, I'm writing about The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec and his four-point argument against another Ravens trade.
At the time, King felt the Ravens were still very much alive in a flawed AFC and pointed out that they have plenty of assets, including 12 projected draft picks and four potentially coming in the fourth round. Since the article was written, the Ravens dropped another game, and while they could still climb back into the wild-card race, Zrebiec advises against another trade.
"This is just one man's opinion, but I'd have a hard time sacrificing future assets, like mid-round draft picks, if I faced such an uphill climb to make the postseason," Zrebiec wrote.
Below are Zrebiec's four reasons against General Manager Ozzie Newsome pulling the trigger on another trade:
1. Very little cap room to make a significant addition.
Newsome reportedly created a little more flexibility yesterday by converting center Jeremy Zuttah's remaining 2015 base salary into a signing bonus. It created about $1.2 million in cap space, nearly doubling what it had been prior, but that still amounts to very little (maybe just above $2.5 million). That leaves room for more potential injuries and minor moves, but a big-splash trade would likely be ruled out unless Newsome were to do some more contract restructuring or re-sign a veteran to a new long-term deal.
2. Little roster flexibility.When you have nine players with injuries that are considered week-to-week, there's not a lot of flexibility to add new players. To add more bodies, the Ravens would either have to move a potential impact player to injured reserve – like they did with receiver Michael Campanaro despite a projected four-week recovery – or cut somebody else and leave them open to another team plucking them off the waiver wire. Given how banged up the team is, Zrebiec says the goal is to keep healthy bodies, not release them.
3. Why give up future assets when the Ravens are in such a deep hole?Newsome loooooves his draft picks, and he rarely parts with mid-rounders.* *If he *knew *it would make a difference, he might make a trade like he did for Eugene Monroe. But Zrebiec says there are so many holes that a single trade may not be enough to put the Ravens back on track. "[T]he Ravens clearly could use a starting-caliber receiver, they really need another pass rusher whether Dumervil returns soon or not and they still need secondary help," wrote Zrebiec. "Is it worth sacrificing a couple of draft picks to fill one of those holes when there will still be major questions elsewhere on the roster? If this team was clearly one piece away from a playoff run, it would be easy to justify."
4. It's hard for newcomers to make an impact in the middle of the season.Zrebiec points to receiver Chris Givens as an example. The Ravens traded for him prior to the Cleveland game. He and quarterback Joe Flacco weren't on the same page, and it will take time to build chemistry.
Will Ravens' Nine Roster Moves Actually Help?
The Ravens made an almost unheard of nine roster moves in the middle of the season, showing they are not afraid to shake things up.
But will they have an actual effect on the Ravens' current losing streak? That remains to be seen.
Count several media members skeptical that Shareece Wright, Asa Jackson and Charles James will be an upgrade over Will Davis (injured reserve), Rashaan Melvin and Jason Babin. The other three moves filled practice squad spots.
"At least the Ravens have some healthy bodies again at cornerback," wrote WNST's Luke Jones. "Not sure what else there is to say about the roster moves."
"Not sure this is upgrade going from Melvin to these CBs, or if sending message is part of it," added CSNMidAtlantic's Bo Smolka. "Although Melvin was awful when called upon."
In addition to getting healthy, the moves may also serve a special teams purpose. Both Jackson and James can help the unit with wide receiver Darren Waller currently in concussion protocol. Waller has been "one of the Ravens' best special teams players," per Zrebiec. Meanwhile, Melvin could still be a Raven if he clears waivers and the team adds him to the practice squad.
But like Smolka, many outsiders view the moves as a message to a defense that was historically bad against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday.
Not only did the Ravens unit give up 505 total yards, but journeyman Josh McCown became the first quarterback in NFL history to put up more than 450 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and no interceptions in a single game.
Ugh. How do you not make changes after that?
As Zrebiec said, Babin's release "seemed like a formality" after he had three penalties on his 22 snaps, including two offsides flags that Head Coach John Harbaugh called "unfathomable."
Now the Ravens are left with just two healthy outside linebackers in Courtney Upshaw and Za'Darius Smith. Elvis Dumervil's status is unknown after he left Sunday's contest with a groin injury. Albert McClellan can move over from linebacker to help.
The Ravens are thin on pass rushers partly because they have so many bodies taking up spots on the 53-man roster at receiver and cornerback after the injury bug took its toll. There are seven cornerbacks (Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Kyle Arrington, Tray Walker, Wright, Jackson and James) and seven wide receivers (Steve Smith Sr., Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Jeremy Ross, Chris Givens and Waller).
With so few roster spots available, if Ravens players didn't know it before, they know now they have to produce in order to keep one, regardless of the team's 1-4 record.
"The Ravens are being serious about the rest of their season. If you don't want to make an impact, get the hell out!" tweeted The Baltimore Beatdown.
Defense Underachieving Or Just Not Good?
The Ravens defense has looked strong at times this season, like in Denver against Peyton Manning and in Pittsburgh against backup Michael Vick. But other times, it couldn't stop the opposing quarterback from marching down the field like McCown and Andy Dalton did to win games.
So CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown is wondering whether the unit is underachieving, or if they just aren't very good.
"Over the next few weeks, the Ravens' defense will prove it can play better, or prove that it's not very good," Brown wrote.
"Giving up late leads, missing tackles, and failing to stop opponents on third down have become Ravens trademarks. Since a strong performance Week 1 against the Broncos, the Ravens still haven't shown they can play consistent defense without three key players from last year's front seven – defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (traded to Lions), and outside linebackers Pernell McPhee (free agent departure to Bears) and Terrell Suggs (season-ending Achilles injury)."