What Could an Orlando Brown Trade Look Like?
After NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported last week that Orlando Brown Jr. wants a trade, there's a growing expectation that the Ravens could move the two-time Pro Bowl tackle.
"The Ravens have never traded someone as talented and coveted as Orlando Brown Jr.," The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer wrote. "In an ideal world, general manager Eric DeCosta wouldn't have to. But there is nothing ideal about the situation his front office must now confront."
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Ravens are "going to need a haul" to trade Brown, but that "teams are going to be interested."
So what could the framework of a trade look like?
Back in 2019, the Miami Dolphins traded left tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth-round pick, and a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans for a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick, a 2021 second-round pick, and two players.
That's a massive haul. Pundits reiterated that they don't expect the Ravens to receive that kind of return for Brown, but a first-round pick would be the bar for trade talks.
"It doesn't make sense for a championship-caliber team to lose Brown unless it's a first-round pick," ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote. "With the decreased salary cap, teams will see more value in addressing left tackle in the draft than giving up a high pick and signing Brown to a big-money extension.
"According to ESPN Stats & Information, the best comparable is Jason Peters getting traded from the Buffalo Bills in 2009. The Eagles sent the No. 28 overall pick as well as two other selections (a fourth and sixth-round pick) for Peters, who was 27 at the time and had been to two Pro Bowls."
Shaffer looked at five possible trade scenarios for Brown, and four included at least a first-round pick. The other included the first pick in the second round (No. 33) from the Jacksonville Jaguars and 2019 Pro Bowl wide receiver D.J. Chark.
"In a league where subpar pass protection likely cost the Kansas City Chiefs a Super Bowl title, Brown's value has only risen," Shaffer wrote. "The average annual contract value of the NFL's five highest-paid right tackles is $14.5 million, according to Over The Cap, headlined by Philadelphia Eagles star Lane Johnson's $18 million-per-year deal.
"At left tackle, where Brown did not allow a sack and surrendered just 16 pressures overall after replacing Stanley, according to Pro Football Focus, the price tag is even higher."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec and Daniel Popper also crafted up three trade scenarios that would send Brown to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The first scenario was trading Brown for the Chargers' 2021 first-round pick (No. 13), which Zrebiec called "pretty close to a no brainer for the Ravens."
The second was trading Brown for the Chargers' 2021 second- and fourth-round picks. The third was trading Brown for wide receiver Mike Williams and the Chargers' 2021 fifth-round pick.
"The Ravens have a much better idea of Brown's trade value than I do, but this wouldn't be enough for me," Zrebiec said about the second scenario. "If the Chargers had one of the first couple of picks in the second round, that would be a slightly different story. However, Los Angeles is picking squarely in the middle of the second round (pick 47). Changing the fourth-rounder to a third would make it a little more enticing, but it still wouldn't be enough, unless it was far and away the best offer Brown generated and the situation with the player had become so untenable that the Ravens had to move on. I'd personally rather have one more year of Brown starting at right tackle and a likely third-round compensatory pick his departure would likely trigger than a second- and a fourth-rounder."
If the Ravens aren't able to find a suitable trade partner, there's a good chance Brown could play out the final year of his rookie contract in Baltimore next season. Pundits noted that any kind of holdout won't help Brown either.
"[I]f Brown doesn't show up to training camp, he'll revert to a restricted free agent in 2022," Hensley wrote. "If the Ravens can't trade Brown, he'll suit up for this upcoming season and put all of his energy into making this his best season. Anything less hurts his free-agent value next offseason. In other words, the Ravens have all the leverage in this situation.
"The odds favor Brown staying. … That being said, DeCosta has shown he's more apt to make moves like this than Newsome (nine player trades in 25 months as GM). So, it only takes one team to make the right offer."
Ravens Among Teams Who Make Sense for J.J. Watt
After being named as a potential trade destination for J.J. Watt, the Ravens could be a free-agent landing spot for the five-time All-Pro defensive end following his release from the Houston Texans.
ESPN's Ed Werder reported that "approximately a dozen teams" have shown interest in Watt since his release. Pundits such as The Athletic's Mike Sando and CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo believe Baltimore would make sense for Watt.
"The Ravens are almost always among the NFL's best on defense," Sando wrote. "They have also been in the high-profile veteran acquisition market, adding defenders such as Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas and Calais Campbell in recent years. Watt would fit that pattern nicely. Signing with the Ravens would reunite Watt with his former position coach in Houston, Anthony Weaver, while giving him a great shot at returning to the postseason. The Ravens have decisions to make with prominent front-seven contributors as Pernell McPhee, Matthew Judon, Derek Wolfe and Yannick Ngakoue can all become free agents."
"I]t would give Watt the chance to face his brothers at least twice per year,” DeArdo added. “... In Baltimore, Watt would help a Ravens' pass rush that finished outside of the top 10 in the league in sacks in 2020. Watt would also create a pretty formidable defensive line that would include [Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell and possibly pending free agent Yannick Ngakoue."
Watt said in a video on Friday that he wants to continue his career. The 31-year-old has battled injuries but is just two years removed from a 16-sack season in 2018.
Trading for Watt likely wasn't going to be an option for the Ravens, but signing him as a free agent is more possible. As Sando noted, the ties to recently-hired Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver, who was with Watt in Houston, could be a selling point.
Even Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy's Famous Seafood have stepped into the recruiting game.
"The Ravens give Watt the best opportunity to win a championship and still make a decent amount of coin," Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw wrote. "Baltimore, in return, gets a well-rounded defender who fills a massive need on the team, especially if it loses so many of its pass rushers."
Analytics Show Ravens Must Improve Dropped Passes
There's been plenty of talk this offseason as to how the Ravens can improve the passing attack. According to analytics, one major area for improvement is dropping fewer passes.
According to QB Data Mine, 7.5 percent of Lamar Jackson's passes were dropped last season, higher than any other quarterback. For a team that threw the fewest passes in the league, that's a big hit on the unit's efficiency.
"As a result, the Ravens were ranked in the bottom third of the NFL with a total of 16 dropped passes, according to NBC Sports," Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich wrote. "The Dallas Cowboys were ranked first with 31 dropped passes, followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers (30)."
John Harbaugh and DeCosta said the Ravens will continue to be a run-first offense, but acknowledged the passing game must improve. Part of the solution is fewer drops, which can plague any team no matter how many times they throw the ball.