Trade for Ravens’ Derek Wolfe ‘Foreseeable,’ Says Analyst; Suggests ‘Reunion’ With Broncos

Derek Wolfe Ravens

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images Derek Wolfe of the Baltimore Ravens waits for a snap against the Dallas Cowboys at M&T Bank Stadium on December 8, 2020.

In March Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe insisted he plans to play this year, having missed all of last season in the wake of hip and back injuries that led to offseason hip surgery. Whether or not he continues his career in Baltimore is another story.

“The Ravens’ moves this offseason suggest they’re at least preparing for the idea of a roster without Wolfe,” offers Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus (PFF), before highlighting the return of former Ravens Michael Pierce and Brent Urban, the latter of whom was a fourth-round pick in 2014. “Add in Baltimore’s selection of Connecticut nose tackle Travis Jones in the third round of this year’s draft, and the depth-chart is quite full of run-stuffers.”


PFF: ‘Many Teams Would Benefit’ From Derek Wolfe’s Services

That explains why Spielberger includes Wolfe, 32, on his list of a half-dozen potential trade/cut candidates from around the league, arguing that “many teams” with lesser defensive line talent would have interest in the run-stopping ability the former second-round pick is capable of providing.

“Wolfe’s 87.7 (PFF) run-defense grade from 2016-20 ranked 12th among interior defenders, obviously a near-elite mark, yet still trailed by both Pierce and Urban over (that) span,” notes Spielberger.

But availability has been an ongoing issue with Wolfe, who started at least 11 games in all eight seasons he played in Denver but missed the last four games of his Broncos career with a dislocated elbow. His first season in Baltimore (2020) was highly productive, as he played in 14 games (with eight starts) and recorded 51 tackles (19 solo), including six tackles for loss, one sack, four quarterback hits, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery.

That said, “(i)t’s entirely possible Baltimore keeps him in the fold and has an incredibly strong group at the position, but other teams inquiring about a potential trade for the veteran is forseeable,” concludes the PFF analyst.


A ’Reunion’ With the Broncos?

In Spielberger’s estimation, the outfit that drafted Wolfe No. 36 overall in 2012 might very well be one of those teams, noting that the Broncos “traded interior defender Shelby Harris to the Seattle Seahawks in the Russell Wilson blockbuster and could perhaps look to fortify the depth chart with a reunion.”

Wolfe is scheduled to earn a relatively modest $2 million in 2022, so money shouldn’t be much of an obstacle for teams potentially interested in acquiring him. If the Ravens trade him they would save his $2 million salary but would incur a $1.8 million dead cap charge, as per overthecap.com.

Either way, he’ll be adding to a career that has seen him appear in 122 games (with 116 starts). During that time he has been credited with 350 tackles (225 solo), with 52 tackles for loss, 34 sacks, 81 quarterback hits, 17 passes defensed, one interception and three fumble recoveries, according to Pro Football Reference.

Wolfe — listed at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds — came to the Ravens on a one-year contract in March 2020. A year later he inked a three-year deal worth a total of $12 million, one that included a $5.4 million signing bonus and calls for a salary of $3 million in 2023.

According to Spielberger, the Ravens would not realize any cap savings if they decided to release Wolfe, as a post-June 1 cut would result in a $3.8 million dead cap hit. So that would appear to be an unlikely outcome, unless injuries have robbed him of his ability to play.

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