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John Harbaugh doesn't deny Ravens have spoken to teams about Jernigan

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Timmy Jernigan (99) celebrates a big play against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Baltimore Ravens defensive end Timmy Jernigan (99) celebrates a big play against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP)

PHOENIX — Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said he believes young defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will have the best season of his career in 2017. However, that belief apparently hasn't stopped the Ravens from discussing the 24-year with other teams in trade talk.

"Trade talks always go on. People are interested in Timmy because I'm sure they feel like, with our defensive line situation – we have a lot of good, young players – that he might be available," Harbaugh said Tuesday at the AFC coaches breakfast on the second day of the league meetings. "So people are going to ask about him."

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Harbaugh maintained that the Ravens aren't actively looking to trade Jernigan, the possibility first mentioned last week by former general manager Michael Lombardi.

"Everybody is up for trade," Harbaugh said. "I'm sure that if the Ravens got enough, they'd trade me in a second. Might not take much right now if people are looking."

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Jernigan is coming off a season in which he had five sacks, 31 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. However, his play dropped in the second half of the season as did his number of snaps as the Ravens opted to give undrafted free agent Michael Pierce more time alongside nose tackle Brandon Williams.

A second-round pick in 2014, Jernigan had one total tackle and no sacks in his last four games. Three of his five sacks came in the first three weeks of the season.

Lombardi reported the Ravens are willing to trade Jernigan because they don't feel like they'll be able to re-sign him when the former Florida State standout is due to hit free agency next offseason.

The Ravens are certainly looking to add to their seven picks in next month's draft. However, trading Jernigan would cost the Ravens their best interior pass rusher and leave two major question marks along the defensive front.

The Ravens already lost starting defensive end Lawrence Guy who signed with the New England Patriots. Brent Urban and Bronson Kaufusi, a third-round pick who missed all of last season after breaking his ankle during training camp, are the leading candidates to replace Guy.

Trading Jernigan would also force the Ravens to rely more on Pierce, Carl Davis and Willie Henry. Neither Davis nor Henry played a single defensive snap during the 2016 regular season.

"To me, Timmy is going to have the best year of his career without question," Harbaugh said. "Timmy, I'm sure he's training hard. I know how passionate he is, I know how much he wants to be great. He's another guy that gives me big squeezes and tells me everything is going to be OK. He wants to be a great player."

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