The Ravens are gambling by trading for disgruntled cornerback Marcus Peters, but it is a small risk compared with how other teams usually acquire playmakers.
The Ravens have been void of these types of players for almost 12 years, when they parted with Ray Lewis, Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin. That’s the main reason they’ve only been to the playoffs twice since 2012.
You might not like Peters and the baggage he carries around, but unless he signs a long-term deal, the Ravens are basically renting him for 10 games in return for linebacker Kenny Young and a reported fifth-round draft pick. That’s a good bargain, despite the troubling signs.
Peters has been involved in run-ins with a fan and an official and also had problems with the coaching staffs of the Kansas City Chiefs and the University of Washington, where he played in college.
But here is one thing you can’t argue against: Peters, 26, has 24 career interceptions during four-plus seasons with the Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams, more than any other player in that span. He has intercepted two passes and knocked down four others in six games this season and is considered one of the best in the game.
The Ravens need more playmakers. Combined with cornerback Marlon Humphrey, they now have two on defense. It isn’t enough, but at least maybe now things are starting to change.
The Ravens moved in a different direction when they gutted the team of its high-profile personalities after the Super Bowl win following the 2012 season. Two years later, Ravens running back Ray Rice was involved in an assault on his fiancee and the team went image-conscious as far as player selection.
That’s great, but you can’t win in the NFL with a bunch of choir boys. Ravens coach John Harbaugh is good as far as building chemistry, but “53 mighty, mighty men,” “rah, rah, rah’’ and T-shirts with themes will only take a team so far — about to the first round of the playoffs.
And then it’s up to playmakers. Ray Lewis was a playmaker. Ed Reed was a playmaker. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is still making plays, and so is Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The Ravens want the same from Peters.
A lot of playmakers are head cases. They might not be as whacked as Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens or as greedy as running back Le’Veon Bell or as whacked and as greedy as receiver Antonio Brown, but a lot of them have issues.
Some won’t shut up, like Terrell Suggs, who could only be out-talked by Shannon Sharpe. Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders were prima donnas. And the list could go on and on with the old Ravens.
General manager Eric DeCosta had to initiate this move. It’s hard to see his predecessor Ozzie Newsome stepping so far out of the box. Newsome might have done this in the preseason, but he wouldn’t have given up on second-year player like Young, a second-round pick, so quickly, or thrown in a draft pick.
The vision at The Castle is different now. It’s no longer wait and see but seize the moment as the Ravens have gotten away from being so image-conscious.
Ravens safety Earl Thomas III was caught lifting his middle finger toward his Seattle Seahawks when he was carted off the field in the fourth quarter of a game last season, but the Ravens didn’t back away from signing him during the offseason.
And now, here comes Peters.
During the year, there are several key moments that can change the course of a season. One moment might have been Sept. 29 when the Ravens lost at home by 15 points to the sorry Cleveland Browns.
If the Ravens couldn’t beat the Browns then, how were they going to win against Seattle, New England, the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans?
But the Browns had playmakers who are also head cases, such as quarterback Baker Mayfield, receiver Odell Beckham, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson and defensive back Damarious Randall.
After the Browns loss, the Ravens moved Patrick Onwuasor from middle linebacker to the weak-side and put street free-agent Josh Bynes in the middle. They cut third-year outside linebacker Tim Williams and banished Young to the bench before Tuesday’s trade.
When injuries started mounting in the secondary, especially at safety, the Ravens had to make a move, and they acquired Peters.
The onus is now on Harbaugh. He has to find a way to motivate and get the best out of Peters, even though he isn’t a Harbaugh-type guy. It’s an important part of coaching where you have to mesh the personalities to get the most out of your team.
The last time Harbaugh was asked to do that, he was only in his fourth season. He’ll do better now because he has 12 more years of experience, and it’s a good problem to solve. The team is low on safeties, but the Ravens have two shutdown cornerbacks in Humphrey and Peters. If they had a consistent pass rush, things would be better.
But Peters is one of the best in the league. He has had his share of problems in the past, but this is one playmaker that certainly is worth the risk.
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Now, he just has to make some plays.