The Ravens’ trade with the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback Marcus Peters appears to be a good one, as long as coach John Harbaugh can get him to work within the team concept.
The Ravens traded second-year linebacker Kenny Young and a reported fifth-round draft pick in 2020 for Peters, who has a reputation of being a disruptive player in the locker room and on the field. He got that reputation in college, when he was dismissed from Washington after getting into arguments with coaches, and it has continued in the NFL.
Harbaugh has tried to stay away from disgruntled players, even those who played at a high level, and that led to his alpha-male purge of receiver Anquan Boldin and safeties Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed following the team’s Super Bowl season in 2012.
The current team certainly doesn’t have any of those high-profile personalities with the exception of free safety Earl Thomas III, but Thomas is known more for challenging his teammates on the field than promoting or caring about himself off of it.
Peters can certainly help the Ravens. The team’s secondary has been riddled with injuries and they’ve already lost two top safeties in Tony Jefferson and DeShon Elliott, as well as nickel cornerback Tavon Young for the season. Starting cornerback Jimmy Smith hasn’t played since Week 1 with a leg injury.
With third-year cornerback Marlon Humphrey playing at a near-Pro Bowl level, opposing teams have started going after fourth-year cornerback Maurice Canady. The addition of Peters will change those dynamics.
Peters has been chosen to the Pro Bowl twice in his five-year career and is considered one of the best at his position. He is big, physical and fast, and isn’t afraid to challenge receivers in press coverage at the line of scrimmage.
Since he entered the NFL in 2015, Peters has an NFL-best 24 interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns (tied with Rams cornerback Aqib Talib for the most in the league). Peters’ 24 picks since 2015 are eight more than the second-best players (Oakland Raiders safety Reggie Nelson and Detroit Lions corner Darius Slay have 16).
He is a good fit for a team that lacks a good, consistent pass rush.
The addition of Peters comes at the right time because the Ravens play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, a team Peters played twice a year when he was with the Rams. Peters will also get to play against his old teammates on Nov. 25 when the Ravens travel to Los Angeles for a Monday night game.
Peters is a free agent after this season unless the Ravens get him to sign an extension. It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale uses the cornerback group of Humphrey, Peters, Brandon Carr and Smith once Smith returns. Carr has played some safety and there has been speculation for years that Smith might move to safety.
The departure of Young is no big deal because he wasn’t activated two weeks ago when he was replaced by Patrick Onwuasor as the starting weak-side linebacker. He didn’t get a snap on defense last week, even though Onwuasor missed the game because of an injury.
Young, a fourth-round draft pick in 2018, shows the problems the Ravens have had recently in drafting linebackers. They’ve had success with players such as Matthew Judon, C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith, but failed with others such as Arthur Brown, John Simon, Kamalei Correa, Tim Williams and Young. Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, drafted in the second round out of Houston in 2017, hasn’t been able to get on the field consistently.
But that’s an area the Ravens can address in the future. They got Peters now. He can play. Now it’s just a matter of getting him to develop a good chemistry with his teammates.
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