Shaun Wade Trade a Good Solution to 'Problem' of Great Depth at Cornerback
After the Ravens' win over the Carolina Panthers last week, Head Coach John Harbaugh said the team had some "very difficult" decisions to make regarding which of the promising, young defensive backs would make the 53-man roster.
"It's a great problem, but it's a tough problem," he said.
The Ravens addressed the "problem" yesterday by reportedly trading rookie cornerback Shaun Wade to the New England Patriots. In return, Baltimore reportedly receives a seventh-round pick in 2022 and a fifth-round pick in 2023. The deal was first reported by The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec.
The consensus among pundits is that it's another shrewd move by Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta, who gained some draft capital for a player who wasn't going to make the 53-man roster.
"Former Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome was fond of saying, 'You can never have too many corners,' and current GM Eric DeCosta has echoed that, but there was no way to hold on to all of them on the initial 53-man roster," Press Box's Bo Smolka wrote. "Essentially, rather than let one of them go for nothing, DeCosta recoups a pair of future draft picks."
It's worth noting that the seventh-round pick reportedly originally belonged to the Houston Texans. With the Texans rebuilding, it's likely that it will be a high pick in the round.
The Ravens would now have 10 picks in next year's draft, which is expected to be a deep one.
Ravens Wire's Kevin Oestreicher gave the Ravens a "B" grade for the trade.
"Baltimore made a tough decision to part with Wade. He has all of the tools to become a great football player at the NFL level, so it's unfortunate that they traded away a guy that they invested in less than six months ago," Oestreicher wrote. "However, netting some draft capital in return is a plus, and if the Ravens were going to let him go anyway, it was a decent overall haul."
On a side note, Zrebiec reported that the Ravens have received calls from teams about undrafted free agent kicker Jake Verity, though that was before Carolina reportedly traded for New York Giants kicker Ryan Santoso.
Here's a sample of what other media members are saying about the Wade trade:
Gil Brandt: Sammy Watkins Is in Position to Shine With Ravens
The Ravens signing veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins this offseason made NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt's list of 12 one-year contracts that will pay off.
Brandt's list was composed of players he believes will thrive and provide teams with "outstanding bang for the buck." Watkins' reported $5 million annual salary ranks tied for 40th among wide receivers, according to Over the Cap.
"If he can stay healthy — and that's a big if for a player who has played only one 16-game season in his seven-year career thus far, and who has missed time in camp this year — Watkins should be the No. 1 receiving target for Lamar Jackson as the Ravens try to improve a passing attack that ranked 32nd in 2020," Brandt wrote. "Watkins' catch rate above expectation (-2.9%) in 2020 ranked last among Chiefs receivers with 30-plus targets, but it would have slotted him easily above last year's top Baltimore receiver, Marquise Brown (-4.7%).
"After putting in three seasons of top-notch support work in Kansas City, Watkins is in position to shine with Jackson in Baltimore."
Watkins' injury history can't be ignored, but in regard to the time Watkins has missed in training camp, Harbaugh said yesterday it's nothing serious.
"We're just trying to rest some things that he was dealing with that are just normal camp things that we felt like it wasn't really worth it at this point," Harbaugh said. "It was better to get him 100%. Like he says, you're never 100%, but we're trying to get him as close as we can."
Will Lamar Jackson Have More Rushing Yards Than Ezekiel Elliott This Season?
The "Good Morning Football" crew debated whether Jackson or Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will have more rushing yards this season. Two of the three analysts chose Jackson.
It's a testament to Jackson's phenomenal running ability that he's even being compared with a three-time Pro Bowl running back who has averaged 1,350 rushing yards in seasons in which he's played at least 15 games.
"I'm going with Lamar. I think Lamar is going to be back to MVP Lamar," Kyle Brandt said.
Nate Burleson agreed, saying: "I would say Lamar, because Lamar needs to rush the ball for this team to be successful; Zeke doesn't need to rush the ball for them to win games."
Peter Schrager went with Elliott, who Schrager believes will have a bounce-back season. He also thinks J.K. Dobbins will take on a heavier load, which could result in less rushing yards for Jackson.
"I love Dobbins. I also love Lamar. But what a crazy thing that one of the best running backs in the league is being compared to a quarterback, because the quarterback had more rushing yards last year. That's their offense," Schrager said. "That's what they do. And yet I'm going Zeke. Big bounce-back year for Zeke."
Last season, Jackson finished with 1,005 rushing yards. It was a down year for Elliott, who rushed for 979 yards.
Sports Illustrated Predicts Result of Every Ravens Game in 2021
Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr took on the daunting task of predicting the result for every game of the 2021 season. He has the Ravens going 11-6 and finishing in second in the AFC North behind the Cleveland Browns (12-5).
"Atop the division, it should be a race between Cleveland and Baltimore," Orr wrote. "The Browns feel best suited to take over the division, with a punishing running game and a slightly more functional passing game. Their entire offseason was devoted to toughening themselves on the defensive side of the ball in order to best contend with Baltimore's run-first offense."
Orr sees the Ravens going 7-6 before finishing the season with wins over the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. He has the Ravens losing to the Kansas City Chiefs (Week 2), Denver Broncos (Week 4), Los Angeles Chargers (Week 6), Chicago Bears (Week 11), Steelers (Week 13) and Browns (Week 14).
As for the rest of the division, Orr predicted the Steelers to go 9-8 and the Bengals to finish last at 3-14.