Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says he wants his team to play at a consistently high level for four quarters. (Kevin Richardson)
The Ravens have already made two trades, acquiring wide receiver Chris Givens and now-injured cornerback Will Davis, but every week brings speculation that they are going to make a few more.
General manager Ozzie Newsome is always looking to improve his team, so there's not a whole lot that he could do at this point that would be surprising. However, there are a few things to consider when you think about the possibility of more Ravens trades.
-> 1. Before converting center Jeremy Zuttah's remaining 2015 base salary into a signing bonus and opening up a little more salary cap space, the Ravens didn't have much more than $1 million available. They could sign a couple of their own veterans to new deals to open up more space, but as of right now, they have very little room to make a significant addition.
-> 2. The Ravens have very little roster flexibility. By my count, they have nine players – running backs Justin Forsett (ankle) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. (back), Darren Waller (concussion) and Breshad Perriman (knee), tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf), outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin), defensive end Chris Canty (calf) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) – who are week-to-week with injuries. So, to open up space on the roster, the Ravens would have to either move one of the above-mentioned players to season-ending injured reserve or cut somebody else. And right now, there aren't a whole lot of healthy players on the roster that they can afford to cut given how banged-up the team is.
-> 3. The Ravens have a long-standing desire to not give up draft picks and future assets. It would be one thing if the team had one prominent need that was keeping it from reaching full potential. In that case, you can reason dealing a draft pick or two. But the Ravens clearly could use a starting-caliber receiver, they really need another pass rusher whether Dumervil returns soon or not and they still need secondary help. Is it worth sacrificing a couple of draft picks to fill one of those holes when there will still be major questions elsewhere on the roster? If this team was clearly one piece away from a playoff run, it would be easy to justify. But I'm not sure anybody who has watched them regularly can say that they are one piece away.
-> 4. It's hard to bring players in at certain positions at midseason and have them learn the offense and defense in enough time to make an immediate and continual impact. You saw it a bit with Givens on Sunday, when he clearly wasn't on the same page with Flacco on the one deep ball thrown to him. It takes times to develop a comfort level with coaches and teammates.
I get the argument that the AFC wild-card picture might turn out to be pretty wide open, so the 1-4 Ravens might be able to slide into the postseason if they're able to get to nine wins.
The AFC South has three one-win teams behind the Indianapolis Colts. The AFC West doesn't have an imposing team behind the Denver Broncos. The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills look solid behind the AFC East-leading New England Patriots, but both teams still face questions.
So, sure, if the Ravens were able to win four of five games or get on a stretch like that, they'd be right in the thick of things. Still, there's a lot of ifs in there. This is just one man's opinion, but I'd have a hard time sacrificing future assets, like mid-round draft picks, if I faced such an uphill climb to make the postseason.
-> The Ravens badly needed a cornerback after both Davis and Webb went down with injuries, and I'm sure they signed Shareece Wright because he was the best one available. However, it can't hurt that Wright spent the preseason and the first month of the regular season on the roster of the San Francisco 49ers, who the Ravens play Sunday. It's always nice to get a little intel on the opposition heading into an extremely important game.
-> This Sunday, the Ravens will renew acquaintances with old friends, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. But the good news for the Ravens is that 49ers coach Jim Tomsula is not a former Ravens assistant coach. All four of the Ravens' losses this year have been against teams coached by one of their former assistants: Denver's Gary Kubiak, Oakland's Jack Del Rio, Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis and Cleveland's Mike Pettine.
->Dumervil was relatively quiet over the first four games, but his groin injury is probably the team's biggest concern among the team's injuries, because the Ravens just don't have a capable pass-rushing replacement with Terrell Suggs also out. Courtney Upshaw has gone 32 regular-season games without registering a full sack.
Other than the back-to-back sacks on the Steelers' Mike Vick, rookie outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith has had trouble getting to the quarterback. And the Jason Babin signing hasn't paid dividends so far. In 22 defensive snaps against the Browns, Babin was called for three penalties, and also failed to provide containment on a big play by Duke Johnson.
Some have questioned whether the Ravens could move on from Babin. It's certainly possible, as Harbaugh was really irritated by the offsides penalties and Babin had two of the three (Dumervil was credited with one on the official stats but it was Babin who actually jumped). But that would leave them with just three healthy outside linebackers if they made that move. Not ideal at all.
-> The offense, meanwhile, could get a boost this week. Of the nine guys I mentioned above as being "week-to-week," it sounds like the four that have the best chance to play this week are Forsett, Taliaferro, Smith and Gillmore. I'm not saying that they will. As Perriman's situation taught us, it's foolish to make predictions on injuries. But those guys, along with Canty, probably have the best chance to play.