The Baltimore Ravens made a splash Tuesday afternoon acquiring former All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters from the Los Angeles Rams. In the deal, the Ravens surrendered 2018 fourth-round pick inside linebacker Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick.
Currently sitting at 4-2, the Ravens are a hard group to read right now. They sit in sole possession of first in the AFC North but have had a pretty easy schedule over the first six weeks. Their overlying weakness has been their defense. The Ravens gave up 500+ yards in back-to-back games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns, and look nothing like the unit that finished first in total defense just a season ago. This season, they are ranked 13th but still have a lot of room for improvement.
The addition of Peters to the secondary could be the spark needed for the Ravens to regain their defensive form from previous years. Exchanging Young for Peters is a low-risk/high-reward move for Baltimore going into their toughest stretch of games in 2019.
We have acquired Pro Bowl CB Marcus Peters from the Rams for an undisclosed draft pick and LB Kenny Young. pic.twitter.com/qEsyDTvelp
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 15, 2019
Trading For Marcus Peters Is Low-Risk/High-Reward For Baltimore Ravens
The Hole Peters Fills
With all the injuries to the Ravens secondary, a unit that was looking like maybe the deepest in the NFL has not been nearly as dominant as predicted. The Ravens defense has been a huge weakness thus far in 2019 and beefing up the secondary is very necessary if they hope to be competitive come late December and January.
The Ravens currently have two starting members of their secondary on season-ending injured reserve in Tavon Young and Tony Jefferson. Jefferson’s replacement DeShon Elliott is also likely to miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. With Jimmy Smith still out injured, the Ravens have needed secondary help since he went down Week 1. This has led to a number of tackling issues as well as communication errors resulting in a number of big plays. Baltimore is giving up the eighth-most passing yards in the NFL going into a very tough matchup against early MVP-candidate Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks Week 7.
The Ravens are clearly missing a corner that can match up with number-two receivers and Peters has done a pretty solid job the majority of his career. He led the NFL in interceptions from 2015-16 while recording 20+ pass defenses in both seasons. Baltimore is a team that needs to force more turnovers and Peters already has two picks this season.
Though he has looked shaky at times after moving from the Chiefs to the Rams, he still has the potential to be an elite NFL corner. If there’s someone who can pry that ability out of him at this point in his career, it’s Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Martindale.
Marcus Peters Contract Situation
Currently, in the final year of his contract, Peters comes to the Ravens as a rental player. He’s in the fifth year of his rookie contract and could be looking to cash in big-time on the open market. At the end of the year, General manager Eric DeCosta is now faced with two very good options.
Option-A: If he plays well, extend Peters with a reasonable deal that could make him Smith’s replacement at the end of the year.
Option-B: Let him walk in free agency and likely receive a compensatory pick greater than the one they gave up in the trade.
There is basically no downside to whatever happens with Peters. The only way this is a bad deal for the Ravens is if Young turns into star in Los Angeles. Baltimore’s coaching staff obviously liked what they saw from Young last year but they weren’t persuaded enough by how he looked this year to think he’s a star in the making. Young has two years remaining on his rookie contract following the 2019 season.
Kenny Young Was Not Living Up to His Potential
One of the biggest reasons the Ravens let C.J. Mosley leave in free agency this past off-season was the faith in their two young interior linebackers behind him. Young was part of the interior duo, alongside Patrick Onwuasor, who looked to replace Mosley. The four-time Pro-Bowler was maybe the Ravens’ best defensive player since being drafted in 2014.
Young and Onwuasor are both having rough years up to this point. The middle of the Ravens defense has been a highway for incoming receivers, as neither has shown the ability to cover. This pairs even worse with the fact that they have struggled to stop the run. Specifically in the game against the Browns when the Ravens were without key defensive tackle Brandon Williams. They surrendered 193 total rush yards, 6.7 yards per carry and four touchdowns on the ground.
Young has played in five games this year, starting three, and was benched for their Week 5 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. For reasons likely beyond just the shakeup, the Ravens coaches clearly didn’t feel like they were getting a lot out of Young this season. He dressed against the Bengals last week but only played six special teams snaps. Young has recorded 13 tackles, three tackles for loss and two QB hits in 2019.
The Marlon Humphrey Effect
If there’s one big benefit for Marcus Peters coming to Baltimore, it’s who he’ll be playing with. The Rams have a lot of talent in their secondary but their stars are not at the level of the Ravens. Smith was set to lineup beside Humphrey in 2019 but has not played a snap since leaving the Ravens Week 1 game against the Miami Dolphins. That role is now Peters’ to run with. Humphrey has been dominant so far on the season and having him follow around a team’s number-one receiver should take a lot of pressure off of Peters.
Smith’s injury does not, however, mean he’ll be demoted once returning if Peters is playing at a high level. Having all three of Smith, Peters, and Humphrey at the same time gives Baltimore a lot to play with. With Tavon Young being out for the season, the Ravens have been looking for a player to play in the slot on defense. Peters may not be a slot corner but being able to get their three best corners on the field at once, could be a huge advantage for Martindale. Having two more great cover-corners in Smith and Peters is huge when trying to win the turnover battle.
Trade Grade: A
To Summarize, the Ravens are getting a corner with elite ball skills and gave up a player that looked like one of the weakest starters on the Team. They were also able to get a good rental without giving up a quality draft pick. Marcus Peters should have a chip on his shoulder and could regain his elite-form beside one of the NFL’s best corners in Humphrey. He has a history of forcing turnovers and the Ravens are tied for 20th in the NFL (7). His pending free agency is also beneficial to the Ravens because they can either extend him or receive a good compensatory pick if he leaves in free agency.
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