As preseason winds down and the anticipation of the regular season continue to swell, the spotlight turns to the players. Specifically, higher-profile players that may be on their way from their current teams. There always seems to be some sort of move from a team every year before the season begins, trying to reel in the last of whatever they can obtain for a player that could be potentially cut. While there are rarely surprising moves at this stage, you can never count out a potential shocker.
The Ravens themselves may be looking to bolster some of their position rooms. They recently added wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, who seems to be already making impressions on the coaching staff. But James Proche hasn’t practiced in weeks and Tylan Wallace only just returned this week. The options outside of them include Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, and a couple of undrafted free agents. While Bateman looks to be a true No. 1, the proven talent in the room is limited.
The outside linebacker room in the meantime has taken many hits. Second-round draft pick David Ojabo will be out for a couple more months with his Achilles injury and Tyus Bowser has been added to the Reserve/PUP list meaning he’ll be out the first four weeks at minimum. Justin Houston is a vet whose snaps should likely be limited.
With Tyus Bowser out, the earliest he could return is the Week 5 game vs. Cincinnati. The Ravens’ OLB depth:
Could see a free-agent signing or UDFA make the team.
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) August 26, 2022
Let’s take a look at what the trade market is looking like in the NFL.
Do the Ravens Receive Help?
This is where the media and general public are looking the most. Do the Ravens have the horses to make a real playoff push? If the wide receiver room isn’t looking great for you, there are a ton of options available from roster bubbles around the league that can be traded for. Preston Williams in Miami has expressed a lot of disinterest in staying with the Dolphins and would like to be moved. The Baylor standout Denzel Mims has been quiet with the New York Jets rotating quarterback room since his second-round selection in 2020 and has officially requested a trade. His size matches up well with who the Ravens targeted in their UDFAs.
Two speedsters also look to be available. Giants receiver Darius Slayton has been quiet since his stellar 2019 and 2020 seasons and New York needs some cap relief. The question is can you just wait for him to be cut or do you spend a late day three draft pick to make sure you secure him? You also have to hope that a better quarterback may get him back to his earlier career play.
Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor has been nothing short of disappointing since being drafted No. 21 overall, especially considering Justin Jefferson was taken right after. But it’s difficult not to dream what some time with Ravens wide receiver coaches Tee Martin and Keith Williams would do for a player who was held in such high regard not too long ago. Both have that desirable wide receiver speed that could help lessen the impact of Marquise Brown no longer being a part of the Ravens.
Lastly, while nothing official is out there for either of them, it’s hard not to ponder the availability of Tampa Bay wideouts Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. In front of them are Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones and recently acquired Russel Gage. Not to mention they drafted arguably the most electric player of the 2021 draft, receiver Jaelon Darden. It would seem at least one of Miller and/or Johnson should be available for the right price. It’s just a preference for flavor. Miller’s speed is game-changing and would be an immediate deep threat replacement for Brown. Johnson is Bateman’s former running mate at Minnesota and his size would be a lot of fun to pair opposite Bateman.
For the first time in Big 10 history, one school (Minnesota) has both receiver spots on the First Team ballots.
Rashod Bateman: 1,170 YDS & 11 TD
Tyler Johnson: 1,114 YDS & 11 TD pic.twitter.com/XEKluxYvj3
— Elite College Football (@EliteCollege_FB) December 4, 2019
It seems like the top five wide receivers of the Ravens could already be locked in with the addition of Robinson. Even if it’s not, there’s already a pretty intense competition going on for the fifth spot with UDFAs as the Ravens seem unlikely to keep six wideouts. But if the Ravens aren’t satisfied after three preseason games, there are plenty of options on the market.
A Football Team’s Grit and Edge
After an influx of talent with drafting David Ojabo, re-signing Justin Houston, and Odafe Oweh absolutely dominating during training camp, the outside linebacker room may silently be forgotten about for a different reason. The depth is lacking.
If the room was healthy, you might have to worry about a talented vet or young player with potential getting cut. Instead, they will probably have to add somebody before the season starts.
Bowser remains on the PUP list and will miss the first four weeks. Ojabo will remain on the sideline until mid-November at the earliest and is a rookie who may not make an immediate impact once healthy. Houston is a talented seasoned pass rusher who should be primed for a great year with a new defensive coordinator and a more limited role to keep him fresh but instead may have to play more snaps now. Hayes is a player to be excited about but after a strong OTA showing, he’s had a quiet training camp. The only real player who will see consistent snaps all year will be Oweh, who looks like he’s ready to break out in a big way.
Spring free agent acquisition Vince Biegel looked like he was ready to have a career year after a strong beginning to his training camp, but he went down with a torn Achilles. They signed veteran Trent Harris afterward, only for him to go down with an injury and go on the injured reserve list, ending his season.
Left on the roster are veteran Steven Means and undrafted rookie free agents Jeremiah Moon and Chuck Wiley. Means has had a good preseason, with a sack and some pressures in the first two games, while Moon and Wiley have been quiet. Means is a roster lock at this point, along with Oweh, Houston and Hayes, but the room likely needs a fifth player. Where can the Ravens look for somebody outside of the UDFAs?
Ravens veteran OLB Steven Means has put pressure on Malik Willis all night. His effort has really stood out in this game.
Means produced three tackles and one sack in the first half.
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 12, 2022
Their inside linebacker Malik Harrison has had some time as a SAM and will probably get some snaps. They can certainly keep their eyes on who’s available following the cutdown to the 53-man roster league-wide. But unlike wide receivers, consistent and impactful young pass rushers are hard to find and highly valued. Some older vets may be available, but the Ravens need a guy who can take consistent snaps and soon. Jason Pierre-Paul remains unsigned but the Ravens have already talked to him and with the injuries they’ve been having, feels like he would already be on the team if they wanted him.
The truth is, if the Ravens want an impactful player who can take snaps, they will likely need to give up some currency. So who can they nab? As already previously stated, talented outside backers are very valuable and teams don’t like to part. But there is one guy who could be available, has talent potential, and may not cost an arm and a leg for the Ravens: K’Lavon Chaisson.
Hear me out. Jacksonville already has defensive end Josh Allen. Chaisson hasn’t lived up to his pre-draft hype with only two sacks in 31 games in two years. With the first overall pick in this most recent draft, they took outside linebacker Travon Walker, who’s already taken over as the starter opposite Allen. That makes Chaisson a good depth option for them. But depth can be expendable, especially for a team that may not be looking to push for a playoff spot so soon after being the worst team in the league the year before.
K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU:
• A+ juice out of the starting blocks
• High levels of bend (++)
• Crafty and creative hand usage
• Underrated run defender
• Production upside (+)
• Lots of similarities to Whitney Mercilus pic.twitter.com/ESIm5PgKDN
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) March 14, 2020
Chaisson has two more years left on his contract, not including a possible fifth-year option that can be picked up, so it wouldn’t be a short-term rental. It’s a move for the future and to take some pressure off the room now. But it could end up with a terrifying lineup for opponents come 2023. Oweh, Ojabo, Bowser, Chaisson, and Hayes all gunning for the backfield.
With Chaisson being on a rookie contract, it wouldn’t take too much to figure out the cap space. It would probably cost more than the Ravens would like to acquire Chaisson, a third-round pick minimum, and likely some additional day three picks. But the rewards could be tremendous. Chaisson is a player who majorly impacted LSU winning a championship with current Raven linebacker Patrick Queen. If the coaches in Baltimore could unlock that collegiate talent at the NFL level more than the Jacksonville coaches managed, they could have a potential group of four young talented pass rushers.
This is the move I think the Ravens should make. The outside linebacker room needs bodies. Chaisson may have struggled so far in the NFL, but unless the Ravens decide to sign Pierre-Paul months after meeting with him, whoever makes the roster at the fifth spot won’t likely have an immediate impact, no more than Chaisson could. He’s played 31 of 33 possible career games so you won’t have to worry about injuries like Hayes or limit him like Houston.
Whether they make a major trade like going after Chaisson, find a cheaper wide receiver or just sign a guy who’s cut, this roster probably needs at least one more addition before week one gets under way.