Sun, 05 Feb 2023

Kevin Eck Ravens Are Favorites to Land Saquon Barkley

The Ravens are almost always mentioned as a potential destination when a big-name wide receiver hits free agency or is on the trade block, but now Baltimore is the favorite to land a superstar running back.

The Ravens have the best odds of signing pending free-agent running back Saquon Barkley, according to BetOnline.

Draft Network's Justin Melo believes the Ravens signing Barkley would only make sense if they parted ways with Lamar Jackson, which the team has repeatedly stressed it doesn't intend to do.

"The Ravens are currently scheduled to possess approximately $33.8 million in 2023 cap space, according to Spotrac," Melo wrote. "Only six NFL franchises are set to have more financial freedom. A lot of that money will be allotted to re-signing Lamar Jackson should the Ravens decide to keep their franchise signal-caller.

"If the Ravens move on from Jackson, signing Barkley may become a more realistic possibility. They'll require a new offensive identity and J.K. Dobbins' future hangs in the balance following an injury-hampered season. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh has proven he's willing to lean on a run-heavy approach. A departing Jackson would change Baltimore's personnel packages, but signing Barkley would largely keep Baltimore's offensive strategy intact."

The thought of a running back of Barkley's caliber in a Ravens uniform is enticing. After two injury-marred seasons, the 2018 second-overall pick ran for a career-high 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He also caught 57 passes for 338 yards.

However, the Ravens have more pressing needs, specifically at wide receiver and cornerback.

Also, saying "Dobbins future hangs in the balance" is an overstatement. In five games after returning from a surgical procedure to remove scar tissue from his knee, Dobbins rushed for 459 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. The Ravens also have running back Gus Edwards under contract next season.

It remains to be seen whether Barkley will hit free agency. He has stated his desire to remain with New York, but Giants General Manager Joe Schoen said yesterday that they "weren't really close" on an extension when the team and Barkly Barkley had talks during the bye week.'' Barkley reportedly turned down a deal worth $12 million per season.

Melo wrote that Barkley could "command a multi-year contract that could approach or surpass $15 million annually."

How the Ravens Can Rebuild Their Wide Receiver Room

Harbaugh and General Manager Eric DeCosta both acknowledged that the Ravens' wide receiver room needs to be rebuilt in the offseason during last week's season review press conference. Pro Football Focus' Gordon McGuinness looked at how the Ravens can go about it.

McGuinness noted that the free-agency pool at the position is thin, with Jakobi Meyers and JuJu Smith-Schuster looking like the top available options. Therefore, he believes the Ravens will have to rely on the draft and possibly make a trade to boost the unit.

McGuinness used PFF's Mock Draft Simulator to come up with several scenarios. Here's a look at three:

Draft USC WR Jordan Addison inthefirst round (22nd-overall) and trade third-round pick (86th-overall) to the Arizona Cardinals for DeAndre Hopkins.

"Here, the Ravens do exactly what they stated in the press conference - rebuild the wide receiver room over the first two days of the NFL Draft. USC's Jordan Addison led all PAC-12 wide receivers who saw 25 or more targets with a 2.78 yards per route run average this season. Our model puts the trade value for Hopkins at a third-rounder right now, so the Ravens give up Pick 86 to acquire him in both of the above scenarios.

Draft Boston College WR Zay Flowers in the first round and Fresno State's Jalen Moreno-Cropper in the third round.

"Flowers can be a big play threat in the NFL, with 12 catches for 500 yards and four scores on 20-plus-yard receptions this season."

Trade first-round pick to the Cardinals for Hopkins and a second-round pick (34th-overall), and use that pick to select North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs

"One issue with the Ravens trading for anyone this season is that unlike last season - when they had so many picks that they totaled five picks in the fourth round alone - they currently have just five total this year. With that in mind, could they get clever in an effort to keep their net number of picks intact, while still massively upgrading at wide receiver? Here, they move out of the first round, dropping to No. 34 while gaining Hopkins. The Cardinals would then have two top-22 picks in the draft. At Pick 34, North Carolina's Josh Downs was available, allowing them to come out of the draft with a completely revamped group at the position while boosting their defensive backfield in Round 3."

Steelers Encouraged to Pursue Ben Powers

Offensive guard Ben Powers had a breakthrough season, but he very well could be playing elsewhere next season, as DeCosta acknowledged last week.

"Ben is a guy who we'd love to keep. My feeling is Ben is probably going to be sought after in free agency, based on the way he played this year," DeCosta said.

Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox said one team that should target Powers is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"The 26-year-old would be a tremendous addition to Pittsburgh's offensive interior," Knox wrote. "Not only would he help bolster [Kenny] Pickett's pass protection, but he would also help open running lanes for third-year back Najee Harris - which in turn, would aid the young quarterback.

"And, of course, it always feels good to steal talent away from a bitter division rival."

Powers, a 2019 fourth-round pick, said last week: "I've had nothing but great experiences in my last four years in Baltimore, but with that being said, I do not know what the future holds."

Ravens Reportedly Claim Lamar Jackson's Cousin Off Waivers

According to multiple outlets, Baltimore reportedly has claimed cornerback Trayvon Mullen off waivers from the Dallas Cowboys, which is noteworthy because the 25-year-old is a former second-round pick and the Ravens need to add depth at the position.

Mullen also happens to be Jackson's cousin.

"Giving a Jackson family member a spot on the roster might not be the worst thing for keeping things cordial during negotiations," NFL.com's Grant Gordon wrote

Mullen was selected by the Raiders with the 40th-overall pick in 2019. He started 31 games for the Raiders before being traded in 2022 to the Cardinals. After the Cardinals waived Mullen during the season, the Cowboys claimed him.

Quick Hits

More Tucson News

Access More

Sign up for Tucson News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!