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Late for Work 10/28: Debating Which Pass Rushers to Target in a Trade


Meet the Pass Rushers the Ravens Could Target in a Trade

The Ravens were off this week, but the trade talk hasn't slowed down. We're just one day away from the October 29th trade deadline, and Baltimore could be one of the teams actively looking to make a move.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec believes its time for General Manager Eric DeCosta to trade for a pass rusher.

"It's hard to imagine the team being able to make a run without the addition of another pass-rusher," Zrebiec wrote. "The problem is the Ravens have very little salary cap space to accommodate a significant addition and minimal appetite for trading premium draft picks. The bet here is that DeCosta finds a way, even if it's just a modest addition."

It's the most obvious position the Ravens could target, and Zrebiec broke down options that may be available.

Derek Wolfe

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Makes Sense: "This wouldn't be a splash move at all, but Wolfe has a pass-rush presence inside … The Broncos are struggling, and Wolfe is in the final year of his deal. He's an ideal trade candidate."

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Won't Happen: "Wolfe is making a base of $8 million this year, so that would be pretty difficult for the Ravens to absorb without a few cost-cutting/altering moves … He's a solid player, but the Ravens could be interested in more dynamic options."

Wolfe has drawn interest from the Ravens and other teams, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The Broncos dropped to 2-6 after their loss to the Colts and could be sellers at the deadline after already moving on from wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Wolfe has only recorded two sacks this season, and as Zrebiec noted, it wouldn't be a big-time move. But given the limited cap space the Ravens have, it would make sense.

Leonard Williams

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Makes Sense: "The sixth-overall pick in the 2015 draft is widely said to be available, and the Ravens have a strong relationship with the Jets' front office … He's in the last year of his rookie deal and probably wouldn't require a considerable return."

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Won't Happen: "Williams is still owed around $8 million, and that would be problematic for the cap-strapped Ravens. He is just a half-season rental, so that would affect how much the Ravens were willing to part with for him."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the Jets are "open to dealing" Williams. The former first-round pick doesn't lack size and talent, but he's yet to record a sack in seven games this season. The Ravens are likely looking for immediate production, and Williams might not be the best option in that case.

Baltimore Beatdown’s Eric Misotti proposed the Ravens trade a 2020 second and fourth-round pick for Williams.

"Although he plays along the defensive line, the Ravens have been receiving minimal pass rush productivity from the 5-technique position," Misotti wrote. "Williams is an established veteran and would bring a much-needed physical presence to the edge. He would not only bolster the pass rush, he would be effective in holding the edge in the run game as well."

Ryan Kerrigan

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Makes Sense: "Kerrigan has been one of the top players on the Redskins' defense for a long time, and he had 26 sacks over the previous two seasons. He's a hard-working, steady player who would fit right in with the Ravens' defensive mindset."

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Won't Happen: "Do you honestly foresee owner Dan Snyder authorizing a trade of a franchise mainstay to the NFL team closest to his? There have been no indications that Kerrigan is on the block."

The Ravens are among the teams reportedly interested in Kerrigan, according to La Canfora. But the stance seems to remain that Synder and the Redskins' front office are reluctant to move on from potential trade chips.

Vic Beasley

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Makes Sense: "The Falcons are in sell mode and it's widely known for a few weeks that Beasley is available. He probably wouldn't cost more than a Day 3 pick, and The Athletic's Jeff Schultz has written that the Falcons would be willing to absorb some of his contract, too."

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Won't Happen: "Beasley's status has taken a massive hit over the past couple of years and the Ravens might not think he's that big of an upgrade. He also is making $12.8 million in the final year of his rookie deal … It's fair to question when you look at his production, whether Beasley is worth all of that."

Given the Ravens' cap space, Beasley could be one of the most realistic targets, especially if the Falcons were willing to take on a chunk of salary. Following a breakout season in 2016, 105.7 the Fan’s Austin Medina thinks adding Beasley would give the Ravens an elite talent to work with. 

"Similarly to Marcus Peters, Beasley would find himself in a scheme that utilizes his talents," Medina wrote. "Baltimore would be able to rely more on their improved secondary in pass coverage and allow Beasley to be a nightmare for opposing offenses."

Yannick Ngakoue

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Makes Sense: "He is young, productive, and currently affordable. He could be an answer to the Ravens' pass-rush issues in the present and also the future if they acquire him and then sign him to a long-term deal."

Why Zrebiec Thinks it Won't Happen: "If the Jaguars were to trade him, they'd undoubtedly want a haul in return, even though Ngakoue could be a half-season rental. The Ravens might prefer drafting their own, rather than trading premium assets and then having to pay him in the $20 million per year neighborhood."

Perhaps the most popular player linked the Ravens ahead of the trade deadline, there have been conflicting reports regarding Ngakoue's trade availability.

"[Ngakoue] is not on the trade block but no one has called about him because they know he isn't going anywhere," Rapoport wrote. 

Ngakoue tallied two sacks against the Jets and the appeal of a player capable of putting up double-digit sacks is enticing for any team. That also comes with a cost, and we know the Ravens covet their draft assets.

Zrebiec also included Shaquil Barrett, Carlos Dunlap, Melvin Ingram, Von Miller, and Terrell Suggs on his list. However, cap space remains the biggest challenge for any move the Ravens try to make.

Marshal Yanda Continues to Prove Why He's One of the Best

Even at 35 years old, Marshal Yanda continues to show why he's one of the top guards in the NFL.

Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz dove into the film and highlighted two plays on the Ravens' go-ahead drive in the third quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7 that show just how important Yanda has been to the league's top rushing attack.

"Yanda is the elder statesmen of a young and unique Baltimore offense," Kasinitz wrote. "He's one of its most important players, too, as a right guard with the ability to stand up against pass rushers, clobber defenders in the run game and set the tone for a unit led by Lamar Jackson.

On the first play, Yanda pulls and pancakes Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright to clear the hole for Mark Ingram on an 8-yard gain.

On the second play, Yanda made a key block to spring Lamar Jackson's 8-yard touchdown run.

"[T]he Ravens sent other lineman running in front of Jackson and asked their most accomplished offensive player to take on the task of blocking 330-pound nose tackle Al Woods," Kasinitz wrote.

Yanda stonewalled Woods to allow Jackson to break upfield for the touchdown. It probably won't end up on his career highlight reel, but it was a textbook block nonetheless.

"Yanda still has the athleticism and the strength to hold up against the NFL's top defensive players and his dependability allows Baltimore to get creative with schemes for the league's No. 1-ranked rushing offense," Kasinitz wrote.

Yanda currently ranks second in pass block win rate (97 percent) among guards, according to ESPN. And his consistency is something the Ravens have been fortunate to rely on for the better part of 13 seasons.

The AFC North is the Ravens' to Lose

No matter the result of tonight's matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins, the Ravens will hold at least a two-game lead in the AFC North after Week 8. The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns both lost Sunday.

"It appears that the AFC North is seemingly the Ravens' to lose at this point," Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw wrote. 

The Baltimore Sun staff made their predictions for the second half of the season, and all seven picked the Ravens to win the division.

"The Ravens have been the best team in a disappointing and depleted AFC North, and it'd take a second-half nosedive for them to not repeat as champions," The Sun's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "A home playoff game (or two) isn't out of the question for this team, but the Ravens have shown they can win big games on the road, too."

If the playoffs started today, the Ravens would be the No. 3 seed in the AFC, hosting the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round.

The biggest game left for Baltimore on their schedule? Most pundits agree that it's next Sunday night against the New England Patriots.

"For as many games as Jackson's won in his year as a starter, he still lacks a signature home victory," Shaffer wrote. "The Patriots have set the standard for excellence in the NFL, and they have the defensive talent to make the Ravens as miserable as they were in their January playoff loss. This is an important measuring-stick game for the offense."

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