Ravens Trading Back in First Round a Popular Notion, But Easier Said Than Done
Usually fans are screaming for the Ravens to aggressively move UP in the NFL Draft to select premier talent.
Not so much this year.
A more popular notion is to trade back and stockpile draft picks because the 2018 class's strength is its depth, not premier talent. Plus, the positions that offer legitimate first-round grades don't match the Ravens' needs.
So, yeah, it sure sounds nice to move back and add an extra pick in, say, the third round, where there will still be quality receivers, running backs and tight ends. It's just easier said than done.
Ravens fans have recent first-hand experience in witnessing failed trade attempts. General Manager Ozzie Newsome tried to trade up to get Jalen Ramsey in 2016, but the Dallas Cowboys didn't cooperate. Newsome admitted he tried to move up last year too, reportedly to get cornerback Marshawn Lattimore, but it "didn’t work out."
Is moving back any easier? It all depends on which player falls, and if a team covets said player. But remember, No. 16 is "no man's land" because there's usually not a major difference between the talent there and the low 20s.
Perhaps if a quarterback such as Baker Mayfield falls to the Ravens – Daniel Jeremiah recently mocked him to Baltimore – then maybe a team like the Buffalo Bills at No. 21 would want to trade up for him. The San Diego Chargers (No. 17) are set at quarterback but could be interested in one for when Philip Rivers hangs it up. The Bills would need to leapfrog them in that case. Or maybe the New Orleans Saints (No. 27) want to jump up for Drew Brees insurance.
But if the Ravens want to move back and can't find a willing partner, they'll be prepared to make a selection at No. 16. Zrebiec is more confused now than he was before the NFL Scouting Combine as to the direction Baltimore will go.
"My gut feeling at this time last week was that unless Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley fell, the Ravens would likely select an offensive tackle with their first-round pick," he wrote. "Now, I'm not sure there is an offensive lineman except for Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who is probably a top-five pick at this point, who makes sense in the middle of the first round. And I'm suddenly not convinced Ridley is a no-brainer selection for the Ravens anymore either."
Why not Ridley? Because there may not be a big difference between him and second-round receivers. Just don't expect Maryland's D.J. Moore or LSU's D.J. Chark to make it to No. 52.
Why not an offensive tackle? Because the stock of Oklahoma's Orlando Brown Jr., who was widely mocked to the Ravens before the Combine, has steeply fallen. Texas' Connor Williams is projected by many to be more of a guard in the NFL than a tackle. "Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey is probably the most logical tackle target for the Ravens at 16, but plenty of evaluators consider him more of a back-end first-round guy," wrote Zrebiec.
Tight end? Running back? Nope, outside of Penn State's Saquon Barkley, nobody at either position is viewed as a first-rounder. Maybe one or two will sneak in, but not in the middle of the round.
"So do the Ravens just take the top receiver on their board when they're on the clock even if it might not represent the best value?" Zrebiec pondered. "Do they settle for McGlinchey, who would be, at the very least, a serviceable starter right from the start? Or do they target the best defensive player on the board at the time, which could be an inside linebacker such as Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith or a safety such as Derwin James?
"It will be interesting to see how it all plays out."
Salary Cap Update: Ravens Only Have $5.4 Million and That's BEFORE Brent Urban's Contract
The Ravens are intent on making a free-agent splash, but they'll have to do a lot of cap work first.
The NFLPA updated all teams’ cap numbers Wednesday, as it does every day, but this time it included adjustments from last year, and it came at a cost of $4 million for Baltimore.
So now, the Ravens currently have $5.4 million in cap space, the sixth-least amount in the NFL, which does not include defensive end Brent Urban's contract announced Tuesday. The Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers are the only teams with less money.
The average cap space per team is $32 million.
Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland went on to explain in subsequent tweets that the Ravens will also need about $3 million to sign all their draft picks, around $1.5 million for practice squad players and a $5 million reserve for the season for the inevitable injuries that will require signing replacements.
That doesn't mean the Ravens can't go out and signs players such Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson or Jimmy Graham if they become available, but it does mean the Ravens will have to make many moves to open up cap space.
The options are to cut players, restructure contracts and sign players to extensions. Don't be surprised if team brass does all three.
Richard Sherman Would Be Nice, But Ravens Must Be Selective
This seems like a good time to address the social media questions pouring in from Ravens fans about potentially landing cornerback Richard Sherman.
As Sports Illustrated says, the Seattle Seahawks, as we've known them, are no more.
Running back Marshawn Lynch retired (and then unretired and went to the Oakland Raiders) after Super Bowl 50. The Seahawks traded defensive end Michael Bennett to the Eagles yesterday. Now, there are reports that cornerback Richard Sherman is on his way out, either by release or trade.
If reading the last section on Baltimore's cap situation didn't already answer the question of whether the Ravens, who are stacked with talent at corner, will pursue Sherman, who is coming off two Achilles surgeries, this should make it clear …
What's the Hold up With Jarvis Landry?
It was reported that Landry would sign his franchise tag at the beginning of this week.
It's now Thursday. Nothing.
Turns out, however, physically signing the tag isn't required.
"Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Landry has formally accepted the tender, regardless of whether he has physically added his signature to the bottom of the offer. (He hasn't signed it, per the source.)" wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio. "As a result, the Dolphins consider it to be accepted, making the $15.9 million offer fully guaranteed and (perhaps more importantly) allowing the contract to be traded.
"In this case, the tender has been accepted. Whether formal signature happens or not, Landry is under contract with the Dolphins for 2018 at $15.9 million, and that one-year contract can be traded to another team."
Both the Dolphins and Landry are motivated to make a trade so he gets a long-term deal and they get something out of losing him to another team.
There have been reports that several teams are in talks with Landry's agent about a potential trade, including the Ravens. But those reports also made clear that nothing was imminent.
"There are a number of teams interested in Landry, but perhaps not at his price," wrote The Miami Herald's Adam Beasley. "Landry is said to want at least $14 million annually, but at least one team that is in the running believes his value is more like $10 million per year."
That could be good news, especially if that one team is not the Ravens. Baltimore doesn't want to get into a bidding war with more salary-cap rich teams.
- "Penn State's Mike Gesicki is another prospect the Ravens should covet," wrote Luke Jones. "He isn't a blocker, but he checks the boxes you want in a pass-catching tight end and was very impressive at the combine. Gesicki also caught 14 touchdowns and had almost 1,500 receiving yards over the last two seasons." [WNST]
- "Newsome's job title and responsibilities after 2018 remain unclear, but Steve Bisciotti telling him he wants his golf game to improve should ease concerns about his 'significant' position potentially clashing with the transfer of power to Eric DeCosta," added Jones. "It needs to be the latter's show to run. [WNST]