Let’s make a deal: 4 trades that could make sense for the Ravens, including a proven pass rusher

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Whether it’s a long-term deal for quarterback Lamar Jackson, extra NFL draft picks or a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta isn’t afraid to announce what he wants out of life.

Over his two-plus years in charge of the franchise’s personnel decisions, DeCosta has shown a certain fondness for trades, too. Since he succeeded Ozzie Newsome in January 2019, the Ravens have traded for a player or traded away a player 11 times, dealing away big names like Joe Flacco and Orlando Brown Jr. and bringing in other big names like Marcus Peters and Calais Campbell.


As the start of training camp approaches, DeCosta can do only so much on the trade block. The Ravens are a fairly well-rounded team, one that can’t afford to add a big-money veteran without resorting to salary cap gymnastics. But there are ways for the Ravens’ front office to improve their roster or draft assets. Here are four potential trades to consider:

G Ben Powers for Cowboys’ Day 3 pick


It was only two years ago that the Ravens traded a young contender at left guard just before the season, after it became clear Bradley Bozeman was the man for the job. The return for Jermaine Eluemunor and a sixth-round pick wasn’t bad: The Patriots sent back a fourth-round selection, which the Ravens later packaged with a 2020 second-round pick to acquire New England’s Nos. 71 (defensive tackle Justin Madubuike) and 98 (inside linebacker Malik Harrison) picks.

Powers started seven games at right guard last year, but he didn’t do enough to secure a starting job. The Ravens signed right guard Kevin Zeitler this offseason, then drafted Ben Cleveland in the third round. If the competition at left guard is a dead heat as training camp winds down, the Ravens might feel it’s prudent to turn to their younger, more athletic candidates — either Cleveland or Tyre Phillips, who started inside as a rookie.

For a second-year guard, Powers was mostly solid in 2020. The former fourth-round pick had the sixth-highest run-block win rate among guards last season, according to ESPN, though Pro Football Focus rated him below average there and a better pass blocker. Powers had a standout game in Week 13 against Dallas, which could be the kind of team willing to make an Eluemunor-type deal for interior-line depth and a cheap, rookie contract with two years remaining.

Eagles offensive linemen Andre Dillard warms up during training camp practice in Philadelphia on Aug. 21, 2020.

CB Anthony Averett and a Day 3 pick for Eagles OT Andre Dillard

The Ravens have a lot of good cornerbacks and not a lot of young depth at tackle. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has just one good cornerback and now might have to bench its former first-round pick because someone better has emerged at tackle. Depending on how training camp goes, this could be a win-win trade.

Averett, a fourth-round pick in 2018, is entering the final year of his rookie contract without an extensive resume or the promise of a big role in Baltimore. He started four games last season and appeared in 10 overall, allowing a passer rating of 105.6 in coverage, according to Pro-Football-Reference, but has never played more than 11 games in a season. Even if he impresses this summer, Averett could enter Week 1 behind at least Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Tavon Young on the depth chart.

Dillard, the Eagles’ No. 22 overall pick in 2019, had typical rookie-year struggles at left tackle, then missed all of last season with a torn biceps. Now he enters camp as the underdog in a battle with the younger Jordan Mailata. With Lane Johnson established as Philadelphia’s right tackle, Dillard might be better off looking for a new home. The Ravens couldn’t offer a starting job, but with Alejandro Villanueva’s age, Ronnie Stanley and Ja’Wuan James’ injury history and Phillips’ best position still undetermined, Dillard could do worse.

Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) rushes against Colts tackle Anthony Castonzo (74) during a game Dec. 20, 2020, in Indianapolis.

Day 3 pick for Texans EDGE Whitney Mercilus


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Last season was not vintage Mercilus. The outside linebacker had just four sacks, seven quarterback hits and 21 tackles in 13 games (12 starts) for Houston. He was one of PFF’s lowest-rated edge defenders on one of the NFL’s worst defenses. And this year might not be much better: Mercilus, who turns 31 this month, has been asked to lose weight and line up in a three-point stance in a new 4-3 defensive scheme.

But the Ravens need pass-rush production at edge rusher. And what if they don’t think they can get enough from their young core? Or Pernell McPhee gets hurt in camp? Or they can’t afford Justin Houston or Melvin Ingram? The Ravens’ secondary can hold up for only so long, and defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale can send only so many blitzes.

Mercilus, set to hit free agency next year, wouldn’t fetch much. But a trade could set up Texans general manager Nick Caserio with another draft pick for his rebuild and reinforce the Ravens’ pass rush. Mercilus had 7 ½ sacks and 16 quarterback hits in 2019, along with four forced fumbles, and has experience dropping into coverage. The finances work, too: After restructuring his contract this offseason, he has a base salary of $4.5 million in 2021, which falls with every game he plays for Houston.

49ers guard Laken Tomlinson (75) prepares to block during a game against the Cardinals on Dec. 26, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz.

WR Miles Boykin and Day 3 pick for 49ers G Laken Tomlinson

Why would San Francisco give up one of the NFL’s better left guards for an inconsistent wide receiver and, say, a fourth-round pick? Because the 49ers might already have a succession plan in place for Tomlinson, and because they need wide receivers.

Tomlinson, 29, is entering the final year of a deal that will pay him $4.5 million in 2021. He was seen in San Francisco as a logical candidate for a contract extension — until the 49ers drafted Notre Dame guard Aaron Banks in the second round and Western Michigan guard Jaylon Moore in the fifth. Parting with Tomlinson wouldn’t be easy; he’s by far the 49ers’ most consistent guard, and the team needs to protect its investment in rookie quarterback Trey Lance.


It also needs to surround Lance with young (and ideally cheap) targets. Deebo Samuel was plagued by injuries at South Carolina and had hamstring problems last season. Brandon Aiyuk dealt with a high-ankle injury as a rookie. There’s little proven depth beyond them. If any coach’s passing attack could unlock Boykin’s potential as a deep threat, it’s Kyle Shanahan’s.