Pundit Says Trading for Julio Jones Would Continue Recent Ravens Trend
There's been much debate the past few weeks about the probability of the Ravens trading for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones.
A strong case can be made that Jones coming to Baltimore is unlikely, mainly because of the significant cap hit, the draft capital the move would cost and the fact that the Ravens selected two wide receivers in the draft, including first-rounder Rashod Bateman.
However, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer contends that trading for the 32-year-old Jones would continue a recent Ravens trend.
"Over the past few years, Baltimore has taken swings at third-contract players (Calais Campbell, Kevin Zeitler, Sammy Watkins and Derek Wolfe are on the roster now), zigging in an area where most teams zag," Breer wrote. "It isn't an accident, of course."
Breer cited four reasons why the Ravens' approach to veteran players makes sense, and thus why Jones would be a good fit:
*Predictability. "There's more history on third-contract players, which makes for less volatility."
*Desire to win. "There's a hunger to win knowing that there might not be many shots left at it."
*Compensatory picks not affected. "Usually, they're cut or traded. As such, they usually come in without the team having to worry about how they factor into the comp pick formula."
*Leadership. "This is obvious — the deeper you are into your career, the more positions you've been in where you had to lead."
Breer said that "predictability" is the only box that Jonesdoesn't check, and that's because he was limited to nine games last season due to a lingering hamstring injury.
"I'm not sure he'll wind up a Raven," Breer wrote. "But I do know they've stayed abreast of this one, and in ways listed above, and ways not (toughness, grit, etc.), Jones would be a fit."
Breer didn't mention it, but another reason why trading for Jones fits the Ravens' M.O. is the team's history of success with bringing in Pro Bowl receivers in their 30s (Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith Sr.).
You Won't Believe Where Ravens Placed in Aaron Rodgers Trade Viability Rankings
If you're in the camp of those who think the Ravens trading for Jones is far-fetched, wait till you get a load of this.
USA Today’s Nate Davis ranked all 31 teams in terms of their chances of acquiring Aaron Rodgers if the Green Bay Packers quarterback is on the trade block. Davis broke it down into four categories: no chance, longshot, worth considering and just maybe.
The Ravens landing in the "no chance" category seems like a no-brainer, but Davis placed them among the "longshots." Davis ranked the Ravens as the 12th-most likely landing spot for Rodgers.
"It's a bit provocative to consider. An AFC power under QB Lamar Jackson, the Ravens still haven't committed to the 2019 league MVP with a long-term contract," Davis wrote. "Both Baltimore and Green Bay would have to revamp their offensive philosophies to do a deal built around Rodgers-for-Jackson ... and the Ravens would also need to free up cap room and likely surrender a significant draft pick. Still, compelling thought exercise for both clubs."
My take: The Ravens obviously belong in the "no chance" category and should be ranked at the bottom of Davis' list alongside the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To even consider for one second that the Ravens would trade for Rodgers when they have a 24-year-old league MVP under center and have built their entire offense around him is about as silly as NFL Network's Bucky Brooks suggesting the Ravens could let Jackson "graduate" from his rookie contract and target quarterback Justin Fields if he fell in the first round.
Roster Depth Could Lead to Trades
The Ravens have the "good problem" of having more quality players at certain positions than they have roster spots. Could some players end up being traded before the start of the regular season?
Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed identified four potential trade candidates, all of whom are playing on their rookie contracts:
CB Anthony Averett
"He provides quality depth at outside corner with the ability to contribute in the slot as well. … Averett might decide to test free agency next offseason instead of re-signing with the Ravens to be a backup or play in a heavier rotation if Jimmy Smith isn't brought back on another one-year deal. Instead of hoping they can recoup a late-round compensatory pick in 2023 if he signs elsewhere next March, they could deal him to a corner-needy team this August for a guaranteed and more immediate return."
WR Miles Boykin
"Boykin's been a durable, dependable, and integral part of creating explosive plays in the run game with his downfield blocking. However, he hasn't been very productive or consistent as a pass-catcher. ... Even if he were to show out in the preseason and outperform second-year pro James Proche, who is also considered on the roster bubble, there is a greater chance that he'd be able to fetch more than a conditional late-round pick since he is the more known and proven commodity of the two."
QBs Tyler Huntley or Trace McSorley
"I don't think the Ravens will be able to stash either signal-caller on the practice squad because I don't believe that they will clear waivers if cut. … If they both perform well [in the preseason], the team will not only have a tough call to make on who to keep but they will also likely have an opportunity to deal the loser of the competition to a team in exchange for a Day 3 pick."
OG Ben Powers
"The Ravens already possessed great depth on the interior of their offensive line before they drafted the hulking Ben Cleveland in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. … Even if the third-year pro and Cleveland are neck and in the running, the Ravens could be enticed to roll with the more heralded rookie and turn their surplus at a position of both strength and depth into a mid to late-round draft pick."
Bleacher Report Predicts Tylan Wallace Will Be a 'Surprise Rookie Gem'
The Ravens are expecting big things from Bateman this season, but rookie wide receiver Tylan Wallace also could make a name for himself.
Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox predicted a surprise rookie gem for each team, and Wallace, a fourth-round pick, was his choice for the Ravens.
"Though on the smaller side at 5'11" and 194 pounds, Wallace has polished route-running skills and an inherent fight to get to the ball," Knox wrote. "He plays bigger than his size would suggest and can be a viable perimeter target for Jackson and a downfield threat."
Wallace making a significant impact this season may not be all that much of a surprise. The former Oklahoma State star was widely projected as a second- or third-round pick by pundits.
NFL.com’s Dan Parr said Wallace is the biggest sleeper among draft picks in the AFC North.
"NFL teams underestimated Wallace, perhaps because of his size or the knee injury he suffered in 2019, which helps explain why he was still available late in Round 4," Parr wrote. "It's not hard to envision him becoming a star in Baltimore, though. His game is built on determination and toughness — sounds like a perfect fit for the Ravens — and he can be the physical, go-up-and-get-it guy Lamar Jackson has lacked at wide receiver."
Don't Forget About Marquise Brown
While much of the attention this offseason has focused on the Ravens' addition of wide receivers Watkins, Bateman and Wallace, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said Marquise "Hollywood" Brown shouldn't be forgotten in the talk about the new-look wide receivers group.
Aside from Jackson, no player stands to benefit from the team's offseason additions more than Brown, Zrebiec wrote.
"If it works out the way the Ravens have imagined it, Watkins, Bateman and Wallace will take some of the defensive attention off Brown and tight end Mark Andrews and free up Brown for more big plays," Zrebiec wrote.
Brown is looking to build on last season, when he led the Ravens in receiving with 58 catches for 769 yards and eight touchdowns, but he said his main goal is helping the team win the Super Bowl.
Noting that Brown is regarded as one of the Ravens' hardest workers, Zrebiec was impressed by what he saw from Brown at last Wednesday's OTAs.
"On one play, he chastised himself for not getting both feet inbounds on a sideline pass. A few minutes later, he challenged quarterback Kenji Bahar to keep his throw in bounds and give him a chance to make a play," Zrebiec wrote. "When he wasn't involved in the rep, Brown was consulting with [Wide Receivers Coach Tee] Martin and [Pass Game Specialist Keith] Williams.
"After an offseason where it's felt like Brown has almost been an afterthought, he was impossible to miss. For at least one day, it was easy to think about a much-improved receiving corps, headed by an ascending Brown, and imagine the possibilities."