If Things Get Dire At Tight End, Ravens Have Potential Trade Partner
It's bananas that we're talking about a potential trade for a tight end, given how deep the group looked at the start of Organized Team Activities. The question back then was how Baltimore would find a way to keep them all.
But, that's where we are after a season-ending injury to starter Benjamin Watson, a broken finger to Dennis Pitta, an undisclosed injury to Maxx Williams and suspensions to Darren Waller (four games) and Nick Boyle (10 games). Not to mention, Crockett Gillmore is coming off a shoulder surgery.
"You lose a potential core guy like Watson on the first play, and I'm sure they're all sitting there just saying, 'What the bleep? What do we have to do to get this black cloud off of us?'" CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora said on his BmoreOpinionated podcast.
The expectation is for Williams and Pitta to return before Week 1, but if either one doesn't, or another injury occurs, the Ravens may have to look for reinforcements, and La Canfora sees the Jacksonville Jaguars as a potential trade partner.
"[I]f it does look dire, if a week from now Pitta is still basically doing nothing, and then they have these guys ready to go to suspension, I know Jacksonville feels like they have more tight ends than they need," La Canfora said.
The Jaguars' tight end corps is led by Julius Thomas, to whom Jacksonville paid big-time money ($46 million, five years) when he became a free agent out of Denver in 2014.
One player La Canfora specifically mentioned as trade bait is 11-year veteran Marcedes Lewis, who would be a Watson-type player as an elder statesman and leader. Both have averaged about 400 yards per season, but Watson was coming off a bigger 2015 year (825 yards, six touchdowns) than Lewis (226 yards, zero touchdowns).
La Canfora said some of the Jaguars' younger tight ends could also be traded. The younger players on the roster include rookie Braedon Bowman, Ben Koyack and Neal Sterling. However, if the Ravens were to make a trade in a "dire" situation, they would need somebody that doesn't need developing. They need a plug-and-play player.
What would the Ravens give up in return?
General Manager Ozzie Newsome has parted ways with mid- or late-round draft picks in recent trades. But, The MMQB's Albert Breer, who also sees a potential trade on the horizon, believes the Ravens have a surplus of talent at the defensive line.
"[T]here's a wealth of promising young interior defensive linemen on the roster that other teams have been evaluating," Breer wrote. "If you have, say, a tight end to spare, the Ravens could be in the mood to deal."
It's true. The Ravens will have a hard time keeping all their defensive linemen. For example, in several 53-man roster projections from media around the web, Kapron Lewis-Moore doesn't make the cut.
It's a phone call to the Jaguars that Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta could easily make. La Canfora said DeCosta and Jacksonville General Manager David Caldwell are "very good friends."
"In fact, they pulled off the Eugene Monroe trade a few years back without most other teams in the league even knowing that Monroe was available. [It was] to the point where the Cleveland Browns were calling me when I first reported that it was about to happen, saying, 'Can we get Caldwell on the line? Is it too late? We'll give up more than Baltimore would for Eugene Monroe.'
"So, keep an eye on that because there is a bit of a surplus there in Jacksonville and if things do get dire here for the Ravens, I would think those two teams would be talking."
Ravens Can Make 21-Year Rookie History
Baltimore is contemplating doing something with two of its rookies that hasn't been done for two decades.
The team might start the first all-rookie left side of the offensive line for the first time in 21 years with No. 6 overall pick Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and fourth-round pick Alex Lewis at left guard, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The last team to do it was the Carolina Panthers in 1995 with Blake Brockermeyer at left tackle and Andrew Peterson at left guard.
"That's before the Ravens existed, and well before Stanley and Lewis were in kindergarten," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "To put this in perspective, Lewis was 3 at that time and Stanley was 18 months old."
The results were not pretty in Carolina. The duo allowed nine sacks on their quarterback in the season-opener, and the Panthers disbanded the rookie pairing by Week 3.
That doesn't necessarily mean the Ravens will have similar results.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said last week that starting both Stanley and Lewis is a possibility, and if that's the final decision, it's because he'd be confident in them. Lewis entered the conversation to start while filling in for injured John Urschel, who has missed the last three weeks. But even if Urschel is healthy, the rookie could still win the job.
"In [Urschel's] place, Lewis has not just held his own. He has been impressive," wrote Hensley. "But Urschel's best position is center, not guard. Lewis has provided a physical presence in the interior and has fit in well with the starters, which has drawn praise from Harbaugh.
"If the Ravens go with Urschel at left guard, they are sticking with a lineman who has 12 starts in two seasons, including two in the postseason. If Baltimore chooses Lewis, it's a big compliment for Lewis that he was selected over more experienced blockers such as Urschel, Ryan Jensen and Vladimir Ducasse."
Kids Give Ravens Players 'Pep Talks'
Well, this is just adorable.
The NFL asked kids around the country to write "pep talk" letters to NFL players, including several Ravens. In the video below, the players read out loud their personal pep talks and it will surely make you smile.
Jensen was told to cut his hair, Justin Tucker was encouraged to kick 500 field goals and Kamar Aiken was told not to drop any passes so that "my dad doesn't yell at the TV."
Check it out …
Watch your back, Joe.
Boomer Esiason Would Have Been Drafted To Baltimore Colts
Here's an interesting bit of Baltimore sports history I discovered while listening to the BmoreOpinionated podcast, which had four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Boomer Esiason on as a guest.
Esiason is one of the more popular alumni of the Maryland Terps, where he set 17 school records. When the Baltimore Colts drafted John Elway in 1983, Esiason was in his senior year at Maryland, and was watching from afar as Elway backed out of Baltimore.
"When [Elway] said to the Baltimore Colts, 'I don't want to play for you, I want to play baseball' and all this other stuff, I basically came out and said, 'I'll play for them,'" Esiason said.
"I believe I was destined to be a Baltimore Colt because of my love for [Colts quarterback] Bert Jones, because of my love for Baltimore and because of the fact that I was the Maryland local kid quarterback. I think I would have been the perfect guy to play there in Baltimore. But unfortunately for me, the rest is history, and what an ugly history it was."
Years later, after Esiason's illustrious NFL career ended, he ran into former Baltimore Colts General Manager Ernie Accorsi. Accorsi told Esiason that he, indeed, would have been selected by the Colts in the 1984 draft had the team not been moved to Indianapolis.
"Ernie Accorsi swears to me that I would have been the first-round pick of the Colts that season had they stayed in Baltimore," Esiason said. He added that Accorsi went to Cleveland and tried to convince the Browns to draft him, but they already had a left-handed quarterback in Paul McDonald.
La Canfora told Esiason that had he actually been drafted in Baltimore, he could have prevented the Colts from leaving town.
"I would like to think so," Esiason responded. "It's fond memories [in Baltimore], great memories. Unfortunately, I couldn't add to those. That would have been awesome."