Mailbag: Should the Ravens Trade for an Offensive Tackle?

OT Ja'Wuan James

Mink: I do not see the Ravens trading for another offensive tackle. First of all, I don't think Patrick Mekari is going to be out that long with his ankle injury, and he was playing at a high level. It's not like the cupboard is totally bare either, as Tyre Phillips was a starter at right tackle last season and is capable of stepping in. Of course, he can improve, but who among us thought Mekari would be as good as he was? Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris said he was mostly pleased with what he saw from Phillips against the Bengals and he got decent grades from Pro Football Focus, particularly in pass blocking.

Here's the other wild card in the whole situation. The Ravens have Ja'Wuan James waiting in the wings for a potential return. James, who was one of the league's better right tackles, is on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list after tearing his Achilles in early May. He opted out in 2020 and then tore his Achilles, so it's been a while since he's played football and he obviously has the physical recovery hurdle to overcome. Still, I'm not ruling him out as a potential contributor down the stretch. In the meantime, I think the Ravens can get by with Phillips and potential addition Cedric Ogbuehi, who reportedly worked out for the team Tuesday.

Downing: Some good news heading into the bye week is that the Ravens seem to have reinforcements on the way. Veteran defensive tackle Derek Wolfe returned to practice Tuesday and tight end Nick Boyle was back at practice last week. Veteran receiver Sammy Watkins isn't on injured reserve, but the Ravens hope to get him back in the lineup after he's missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. There's also James, who Mink mentioned in the question above, and he's certainly intriguing if he is able to come off the NFI list this season.

Of those players, I'm most eager to see Wolfe back on the field. A back injury has sidelined him since training camp, but he was a difference maker last season. Wolfe's stellar 2020 season earned him a three-year contract extension in the offseason, and the Ravens could use his presence in the middle of the defense. Baltimore's run defense has been inconsistent this season, and Wolfe could help in that department. This practice time will be important for him to make sure he's ready to go with the back and from a football conditioning standpoint, but his return will be big for this defensive front.

Mink: The bye week has everybody thinking about that Nov. 2 trade deadline. I certainly get it. General Manager Eric DeCosta has shown he's willing to be aggressive to upgrade the roster, as he picked up Marcus Peters and Yannick Ngakoue the past two years. Now this year is different because the Ravens are much tighter against the salary cap, so they can't take on much salary. That dramatically limits their options.

The easiest (and probably cheapest) possibility would be to swing a deal for running back Marlon Mack. He's reportedly on the block, and may have more to offer than the Ravens' current veteran group. But the question is how much more. Mack, 25, topped 1,000 rushing yards in 2019 but suffered a torn Achilles early last season. Mack is back on the field and showed what he's got with five carries for 47 yards against the Ravens a few weeks ago.

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