Jamal Adams' Price Tag Proves Too High
Since last year's trade deadline, the Ravens were reportedly one of the teams interested in trading for Jamal Adams, but the price tag likely proved to be too high.
The Seattle Seahawks acquired the All-Pro safety and a 2022 fourth-round pick in exchange for safety Bradley McDougald, a 2021 first-round pick, a 2021 third-round pick, and a 2022 first-round pick.
"J]udging by what the Seahawks agreed to trade, the Ravens likely never would’ve parted with what they had to to acquire Adams,” [NBC Sports’ Andrew Gillis wrote. "... That's simply a price tag the Ravens shouldn't have paid."
According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the Jets received calls from other teams, but the Seahawks were the "most aggressive suitor."
There are plenty of factors to consider here, the first being draft capital. Adams is undoubtedly one of the best safeties in the NFL, but giving up multiple first-round picks is a big commitment.
"[W]hile the Ravens' roster is still young, they're all eventually going to reach their paydays," Gillis added. "And when that comes, the Ravens will have to cut ties with players they don't want to.
"The only way to replenish talent then, with the team a few years away from salary cap trouble, is through the draft. And the Ravens dealing away multiple draft choices in future years for a player that could limit the team's ability to re-sign homegrown, premier players at premier positions is simply too much to have to part with."
The Ravens are an organization that covets draft picks, and homegrown talent has been a significant factor to the team's success. That's held true under general managers Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta.
"This is a franchise that trusts its ability to pick in the first round and that trust is built on plenty of evidence," Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler wrote. "DeCosta has tinkered with the Newsome formula and the new approach on an old trick has gotten building block pieces of a team that could legitimately win a Super Bowl or two."
The second factor to consider is cost.
Adams still has two years left on his rookie contract, but he's reportedly seeking to become the NFL's highest-paid safety. That would mean earning more than the Chicago Bears' Eddie Jackson, who makes $14.6 million per year.
In addition, the Ravens already have Earl Thomas III entering his second year on his contract, and Chuck Clark, who signed a three-year extension this offseason.
"If I'm being conservative and assuming that there's a modest market for draft picks and the Seahawks are giving away two first-round picks 26th or later, my guess is that the two first-round picks are worth about $40 million in surplus value," ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote. "Swapping the third-round pick for a fourth-round pick one year later is maybe $2 million or so given that teams typically pay a premium in draft capital to get a pick a year earlier, although the Jets are likely to be toward the top of the round.
"Factor in the cost of acquiring Adams and that four-year, $64 million extension suddenly becomes a four-year, $108.5 million contract. Instead of paying Adams $16 million per year, now he has cost the Seahawks more than $27 million per season, which is more than anybody in the league who isn't a quarterback."
New Rules That Could Affect the Ravens
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the NFL to implement new rules that shape how organizations operate, and Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz looked at how three could affect the Ravens this year.
Practice squad alterations
"Practice squads this season can expand to 16 members, and teams will be able to protect four of those players from signing elsewhere, according to various reports," Kasinitz wrote. "This could help teams like the Ravens pad insurance at important positions while grappling with the unique factors that a pandemic presents."
Kasinitz noted that this rule could be especially important for quarterbacks. It could allow a team like the Ravens to keep a third or fourth quarterback on the practice squad without the fear of losing them to another team.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport also reported that teams can move up a practice squad player to replace a player who tests positive for COVID-19. This player can then be sent back down to the practice squad without having to go through waivers.
Kansas City Chiefs starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to publicly opt out of the season. Duvernay-Tardif is a medical school graduate who is working at a long-term care facility in Montreal, Quebec.
The possibility of a player opting out is something all teams must deal with. Kasinitz believes the Ravens are equipped to handle that.
"Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews, a Type 1 diabetic, said last week he intends to play this year, so this ruling probably doesn't put Baltimore in too much of a bind roster-wise," Kasinitz wrote. "If any player decides to sit out of the season for safety reasons, the Ravens can lean on a deep and flexible roster to adjust."
"[T]he lowered salary cap might make it more difficult for Baltimore to sign star players like Stanley and outside linebacker Matthew Judon, whose deals are in line to expire after the 2020 season," Kasinitz wrote. "... But DeCosta's recent work cleaning up financial clogs leaves Baltimore in better shape than a team like the Steelers, who already have more than $175 million of worth of salary commitments in 2021."
Like we talked about with Adams, the Ravens have important salary cap decisions to make in the near future. DeCosta has expressed confidence in the team's salary cap situation but it won't make things easier for any front office.
Debate for Ravens' Top 100 Rankings
The first installment of the NFL Network's Top 100 Players list debuted on Sunday night and the debate has already begun. Four Ravens were unveiled in the first episode.
The list never fails to stir up some controversy, and this year, many believe Marlon Humphrey (86) and Ronnie Stanley (74) were ranked too low.
"Humphrey's All-Pro nod was well-deserved, and perhaps his talent level will finally bust the misguided stereotype that the slot corner is the third-best cover guy on the team; he's not," The Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak wrote. "Humphrey is the best that Baltimore's got, and arguably the best slot defender in the NFL. And it was only his first year on the job."
Humphrey's primary position is as an outside corner, but it shows just how versatile he is that he was a dominant player in the slot last year after Tavon Young's injury.
Humphrey and Stanley were All-Pro selections, and are ascending players at their positions. It's the first time both have cracked the top 100 list in their young careers, but it's surprising they weren't higher.
"Just a season ago, Ronnie Stanley posted one of the most absurd stat lines in PFF history," Pro Football Focus wrote. "He surrendered just six total pressures (and no sacks) all season long. He was doubtlessly helped by Baltimore's run-heavy system and Lamar Jackson's unique threat at quarterback, but even in adverse pass-protecting situations, Stanley's grade and production remained elite. He is making a hard run at David Bakhtiari's crown as the league's best pass-blocker."
Undrafted Rookie Offensive Lineman a Name to Watch in Training Camp
At least one undrafted rookie has made the Ravens' 53-man roster for 16 straight seasons.
Tight ends Eli Wolf and Jacob Breeland have been mentioned as strong candidates following the Hayden Hurst trade, but Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox believes fans should keep an eye out for offensive lineman Trystan Colon-Castillo.
"Colon-Castillo's experience starting at center—38 games over the last three seasons—could earn him a spot as insurance behind [Matt] Skura," Knox wrote. "If the 6'3", 313-pound Colin-Castillo doesn't make the roster, he'll have a good chance of sticking somewhere as a rookie. He was ranked the 10th-best center in this class by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr."
Even if he's not competing for a starting spot, Colon-Castillo could be a strong candidate to make the roster considering two of the biggest position battles are on the interior offensive line.
We saw it last year when the Ravens kept former undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari on the roster.