Top five things Ravens need to do during bye week: Sign or trade for a slot CB

The Baltimore Ravens are heading into their bye week with a near-perfect record of 5-1 even though they have played far from flawless to achieve it on both sides of the ball but especially on offense as of late.

The stretch run to what they hope will end with an all-expense-paid trip for a chance to play for the franchise’s third championship on the first Sunday in February 2021 won’t be easy.

Here are is one of the top five things they need to do during their week off to give themselves their best chances of getting to Tampa represent the AFC in Superbowl 55:

Sign or trade for a starting caliber slot corner

Heading into training camp, the Ravens boasted the most talented and deepest secondary in the league bar none. They possessed tremendous top-end talent as well as quality depth at both cornerback and safety.

Three months later, however, they are now in need of some reinforcements at both spots but at cornerback, especially and specifically at slot corner following the season-ending knee injury to star nickleback Tavon Young in Week Two and now that third-year corner Anthony Averett has now joined him on injured reserve.

Thankfully, Averett’s shoulder injury he suffered in Week Six isn’t season-ending and he’s expected to be back in five to six weeks. However, it still leaves their depth behind starters Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters as well as primary back up Jimmy Smith razor thin.

Averett had seen his role on defense increase significantly following Young’s third season-ending injury in his career and consecutive seasons, but now the Ravens are tasked with filling the void left by fill-in.

Baltimore currently has All-Pro First Teamer and Defensive Player of the Year Candidate, Marlon Humphrey, taking the lion share of snaps in the slot when opposing offenses bring extra receivers on the field.

While he is still dominating in spot duty in the slot as he did last season, his talents are better suited on the outside where he can essentially shut down one side of the field and not just erase one receiver for the game.

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta has already been a busy man since the Ravens went on their bye week by acquiring Pro Bowl pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and reportedly bringing in former Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant to the practice squad.

Next on his to-do list could and should be finding a player that can lighten Humphrey’s nickelback load or take it on all together whether it is comes as a veteran free agent signing or via trade for a young or established player.

While the team is expecting undrafted rookie Khalil Dorsey and third-year pro Terrell Bonds to step up and contribute in expended roles, Dorsey has only played four defensive snaps in the four games he has played this season and Bonds only has one regular-season appearance under his belt.

Both players have predominantly played special teams in the games they have appeared in with Dorsey being the only one that has taken snaps on defense with all four in Week Four against the Washington Football Team where he recorded a solo tackle and gave up a 39-yard completion.

If the Ravens want to add some experienced depth at slot corner or bring in a semi-full time starter some options on the open market that could address their need are six-year veteran B.W. Webb, four-year pro Javien Elliott, and 13-year veteran Brandon Carr.

Webb is the definition of a journeyman since he has played for a different team each year he’s played in the league. He has made 35 starts in 80 career games and has recorded an interception four of the last five seasons.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback B.W. Webb (23) runs, during the second half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Baltimore has historically been a great place for former journeymen to finally find their niche with the most recent example of that being inside linebacker L.J. Fort who is currently on the active roster and making an impact on defense as well as special teams.

Elliott spent his first four years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was active for all 16 regular-season games for the first time in his career with the Carolina Panthers last year. He has 10 starts in 52 career starts and recorded an interception in back to back season in 2018 and 2019.

Carr is the most familiar of the three options since he spent the last three seasons prior to 2020 as a valuable member of the Ravens’ secondary.

He had his impressive consecutive games played and started streak ended in his three appearances with the Dallas Cowboys before being released earlier this month.

Reuniting with Carr would not only solve the quality depth deficiency at slot corner but at safety as well since he played a hybrid role last year with the Ravens after the acquisition of First Team All-Pro Marcus Peters at the midseason trade deadline.

Starting caliber and quality cornerbacks are hard to come by and teams are usually hard-pressed to part with them once they got them.

However, one veteran player on a struggling team that could come in and take on a similar hybrid role that Carr played in 2019 is New York Giants’ free safety Logan Ryan.

He’s a rare aggressive tackler for a defensive back and can excel in both man and zone coverage. Before he signed a one-year deal worth $7.5 million to play safety for the Giants, he was a solid starter at cornerback who did his best work in the slot for the first seven years of his career.

Ryan has 109 games played and 85 career starts at cornerback between the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots and has played against the Ravens numerous times in his eight-year career so they are familiar with the impact he can have and what he brings to the table from a versatility standpoint.

Diverse skill sets are attributes the Ravens covet among their players on both sides of the ball but especially on defense where Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale likes to disguise his coverages and bring his defensive backs on blitzes from any and everywhere on the field.

A rumor currently circulating in league circles is that the Ravens are in trade talks with the other New York NFL franchise to acquire veteran nickelback Brian Poole.

The Jets have been shipping defenders out of town all week and the 28-year old defensive back could be the next on the growing list.

Jets General Manager and former Ravens scout, Joe Douglass, is trying to accumulate as much draft captial as he can to undergo what is looking like a lengthy rebuild. His ties to Baltimore’s front office where he got his start make the likelihood of this potential deal extremely high.

As for the fit of Poole himself within the Ravens, it makes perfect sense from a schematic and fincial standpoint. He signed a one-year deal worth just $3.5 million with the Jets this offseason and they’ve already paid a portion of his very affordable salary.

Poole would be just what the doctor ordered at nickelback for the Ravens defense. In six games with the Jets, he’s recorded 33 total tackles, a sack, a pair of interceptions and six pass deflections.

His aggressive playing style and versatility as a blitzer and coverman closely resembles Young’s and Martindale would have a great time cooking up ways to use him in a similar fashion.

If you think that DeCosta is done tinkering and looking to improve this roster for a championship run, then you don’t know this team or this already legendary front office executive.

Expect the Ravens to make one or several more moves between now and when the Ravens welcome their archrivals to town for an AFC North showdown in Week Eight.

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