The Ravens are tied for the best record in the AFC at 6-2 after their latest win Sunday in Arizona. They have the league’s top defense by a wide margin in FTN Fantasy’s Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), which also now has them as the favorite to win the Super Bowl. They spent more money on offense this offseason than any team in the NFL, led by quarterback Lamar Jackson’s five-year, $260 million extension.
Baltimore is built to win now, which is why now would also be a good time to go in on the kind of blockbuster, difference-making trade by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline that would push the organization to the precipice of a real shot at its third championship and first since the 2012 season.
Despite all their various impressive numbers the Ravens have been consistently inconsistent, enduring uneven performances on both sides of the ball. Strengthening the roster in a significant way would likely help solve that issue and elevate them into the league’s upper echelon.
Just up I-95, Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman already made a splashy move by trading for Titans All-Pro safety Kevin Byard ahead of the deadline. Last year, the Eagles were in the Super Bowl, and at 7-1 are favorites to get back there with moves like this. Byard’s 27 interceptions since 2016 are the most in the NFL.
“Do we have a specific need, a have-to-have guy? No,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “I think we have everything we need to be successful.
“At the same time, if an opportunity came to bring in somebody that can help us, make us better in any area, certain areas more than others, and we could do it in a way that was affordable to the team, cap-wise, draft pick-wise, you would do it. That’s where we’re at right now.”
The NFL trade deadline isn’t like the NBA’s or MLB’s, with an action-packed barrage of moves during which multiple superstars change zip codes. Still, there are deals to be done. Last year, 11 trades occurred on deadline day, which was more than twice as many as any year since 2010, according to the league.
One of them sent inside linebacker Roquan Smith to the Ravens, with Baltimore sending the Chicago Bears its 2023 second- and fifth-round picks as well as veteran linebacker A.J. Klein. Smith, who was in the final year of his contract when the deal was made but re-signed for five years and $100 million in January, is the Ravens’ leading tackler this season, has helped them ascend to being the league’s best defense by any number of metrics and is the team’s vocal leader on the field and in the locker room.
In 2019, the Ravens landed ball-hawking cornerback Marcus Peters from the Rams in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick. Peters never quite recaptured the success he had earlier in his career, and he suffered a torn ACL in 2021, but the veteran was still highly productive and disruptive with eight interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns, in 37 regular-season games with Baltimore. His interception of Ryan Tannehill late in the game against the Tennessee Titans in the 2021 wild-card round also helped seal Baltimore’s 20-13 postseason victory.
Of course, not all the deals general manager Eric DeCosta has made have panned out.
Three years ago, the Ravens traded a 2021 third-round pick and 2022 fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue. He started just three of nine games, though, and finished with three sacks before moving on after the season to the Las Vegas Raiders, for whom he had 10 sacks in 2021.
In 2018, Baltimore traded with the Green Bay Packers for running back Ty Montgomery. It only cost them a 2020 seventh-round pick, but Montgomery also played in just six games and contributed sparingly before moving on.
Who might DeCosta look to land on deadline day this year?
The most glaring needs are at edge rusher and running back. Though the Ravens brought in veterans Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy this season and both have been more than adequately productive, they are 30 and 32 years old, respectively, and neither is an elite, double-digit sacks pass rusher. And while Justice Hill and Gus Edwards have done a nice job since J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in Week 1, neither is a game-breaking back.
Baltimore also has the capital to make a move.
The Ravens currently have eight picks in April’s draft, with one pick through each of the first five rounds, plus their own seventh-round pick. They also have the Jets’ seventh-rounder from the Chuck Clark trade and will likely get a compensatory fourth-round pick after left guard Ben Powers signed with the Denver Broncos in free agency in the offseason. Baltimore also has seven picks in the 2025 draft.
In terms of the salary cap, Baltimore currently has $2.8 million in space, but that number increases each week outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, long snapper Nick Moore and rookie offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees remain on the non-football injury list. Moore and Vorhees are out for the season. The Ravens can also get creative by restructuring contracts to create much more cap space.
Here’s a look at some possibilities, ranked from unlikely to more possible:
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry
Henry (8,861 career yards, 4.7 yards per carry, 81 touchdowns) is the type of back who would have an immediate impact and be a major upgrade. But the Titans have said they don’t plan to deal the likely future Hall of Famer, and Henry, who had 101 yards rushing in the Titans’ win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, said he’s happy to stay with Tennessee. The deadline for the three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time NFL leading rusher to restructure his contract by Monday at 5 p.m. also came and went, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, meaning he still has $5.5 million left on his deal and thus casting a significant blow to the chances the Ravens land him.
Las Vegas Raiders RB Josh Jacobs
Strangely, Jacobs’ name hasn’t been heard much if at all as far as trade rumors. Perhaps it’s because he’s averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, or it’s because the Raiders (3-4) are holding out hope of somehow making the playoffs. But the 25-year-old is versatile, had a career 4.4-yard average before this season and is a free agent after the year. His agent, Chad Wiestling, is also a Baltimore guy.
Indianapolis Colts RB Zack Moss
The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Moss did a nice job filling in for Jonathan Taylor while he was on the physically-unable-to-perform list before Taylor signed an extension to stay with the Colts. In seven games, five of them starts, Moss has rushed for 589 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He’s also caught 16 passes for 123 yards and another score, which again speaks to the kind of back that would fit in the Ravens’ system.
Minnesota Vikings OLB Danielle Hunter
Hunter leads the NFL in sacks with 10 and would fit right in with the Ravens, who have more sacks (31) than any other team in the league despite only one player (defensive tackle Justin Maduibuike, 6 1/2 sacks) having more than 3 1/2. The room could also get very crowded with Odafe Oweh back from injury and playing well and the possibility that David Ojabo and Tyus Bowser could still return, too. Still, Hunter is the best pass rusher out there, would be a big boost to a group that’s already been very good and be the kind of difference-maker that gets Baltimore to the Super Bowl.
What will the Ravens ultimately do? Harbaugh said he met with DeCosta before his weekly Monday afternoon news conference and the two talked about potential options.
“It’s a possibility,” Harbaugh said of a deadline day deal without elaborating. “It’s not easy making trades in this league.
“If there’s one to be made that will help us, I’m sure he’ll pull it off. If not, we’ll be happy with what we have because we have a great team.”