All-Pro Marcus Peters tore his ACL before the season even started, joining fellow corners Iman Marshall and Khalil Dorsey on the injured reserve list before the regular season. Then, preseason star Chris Westry suffered a torn meniscus against the Las Vegas Raiders, forcing the former Dallas Cowboy to injured reserve on September 17.
Westry is “still a few weeks away” from returning to practice, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, leaving the Ravens precariously thin at cornerback.
But the injuries haven’t been limited to just the corners either, as starting safety DeShon Elliott missed the Ravens’ Week 5 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts as well, along with safety Geno Stone.
Rookie Brandon Stephens stepped up in Elliott’s absence, but the former Texas Longhorn showed how important he is to Baltimore’s defense on Sunday, recording an interception, one sack, one tackle for loss and two pass deflections against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Given the turmoil in the Ravens’ secondary, Sando argued that the Ravens could be looking to upgrade at corner after finding little help on the waiver wire this season, listing Patrick Peterson, Joe Haden and Xavien Howard as potential acquisitions. The Ravens have an abundance of 2021 draft picks, so they definitely have the assets needed to make a splash before the NFL’s November 2 trade deadline.
The Ravens are 5-1 and appear happy with the development of their young pass rushers. They still could use a cornerback after losing Marcus Peters to a season-ending injury. If the Vikings had lost Sunday, I wondered if Patrick Peterson might have been a good fit for Baltimore. One exec loved the fit, calling Peterson a classic Ravens-type add, but with Minnesota winning and Peterson suffering an injury Sunday, that seems like a stretch. Another exec preferred Howard by a wide margin, suggesting that with corners such as Peterson or Joe Haden, any team would be acquiring more name than game.
Peterson’s hamstring injury suffered on Sunday landed him on the injured reserve list today, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, removing him from consideration. But both Haden and Howard could still be potential acquisitions, so which one is a better fit in Baltimore?
Haden has spent his entire career playing against the Ravens in the AFC North, first for the Cleveland Browns, who selected him in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and now for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Though Haden earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2019 with five interceptions, 10 pass break ups and over 1,000 total snaps played, he hasn’t looked as sharp this season, surrendering a 115.3 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks when targeted, per Pro Football Focus.
But, as one executive pointed out, Haden’s pedigree inflates his current value, making an already-difficult deal with the division rival Steelers even less likely. Throw in his $15.6 cap hit, per Spotrac, and the deal becomes virtually impossible with the Ravens’ salary cap stretched thin by several early-season signings to replace injured players.
In other words, Ravens fans should only expect to see Haden when he’s lined up against Baltimore.
Howard would fit well in the Ravens’ man-dominant defensive scheme, and publicly requested a trade from the Miami Dolphins in July. He’s shown signs of regression after an All-Pro year in 2020, potentially lowering his trade value enough to get the Ravens interested.
But a contract restructure may have done double damage to his trade viability, potentially settling the 28-year-old corner in Miami while also boosting his cap hit to an unaffordable $15.2 million. Howard’s contract goes through 2024, and the Ravens may prefer to save their cap room for extending homegrown talents like Elliott and Anthony Averett.
The Dolphins’ 1-5 start may have them in ‘sell’ mode as the trade deadline approaches, potentially putting Howard on the trade block. The Ravens have the draft picks to make a deal, but an extremely strong performance from their secondary against the Chargers on Sunday may have Baltimore feeling like a trade would be unnecessary.