Putting Deebo Samuel into their offense would ensure the Baltimore Ravens give Lamar Jackson the marquee wide receiver he needs to deliver a championship. It sounds simple in theory, yet the reality is anything but straightforward.
Samuel wants the San Francisco 49ers to trade him, and the Ravens have been mentioned more than once as a potential suitor. Getting Samuel to Baltimore would require a trade offer lucrative enough to turn the 49ers’ heads.
That won’t be easy since the Niners turned down two offers during the 2022 NFL draft. Yet, one writer believes the Ravens should offer a Pro-Bowl cornerback, along with future draft capital, to get the 49ers talking.
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Secondary Help Worth Sacrificing for Samuel
Samuel wants out, according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, but the 49ers are holding firm, at least for the moment. Offers were made during the draft, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport telling the Rich Eisen Show how the New York Jets offered two picks, including a first-rounder, while the Detroit Lions tried to tempt San Fran with “a one and a three.”
Neither offer proved sweet enough, so any other interested parties will need to up the ante. It’s something Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon believes the Ravens can manage.
Gagnon thinks the timing is ripe for the Ravens to go all-in for an established star like Samuel: “A team in win-now mode with a quarterback who doesn’t appear to be antsy about extending his expiring contract has to be willing to sacrifice future draft capital in a situation like this for a player like this.”
The point about Jackson’s still-unresolved long-term future is telling. He’s about to play on the fifth-year option of his original rookie deal, so the Ravens have a choice to make between contract extension or franchise tag to ward off free agency next year.
The Ravens don’t want to lose one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league, but it’ll be a tall order to convince Jackson to stay without putting better talent around him. There’s a paucity of quality in the receiver room after general manager Eric DeCosta traded Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for a first-round pick:
Jackson appeared less than thrilled about the deal, and it’s easy to see why. Brown moving on leaves second-year man Rashod Bateman and unconvincing trio James Proche II, Devin Duvernay and Tylan Wallace as Jackson’s primary wideouts.
Gagnon knows how DeCosta can fix the problem and ultimately land Samuel. It involves the marquee name in the Ravens’ secondary: “the Ravens have a full complement of picks in the 2023 and 2024 drafts, and they might be able to sweeten the pot with a somewhat expendable veteran like Marcus Peters for a San Francisco team that could use help in the secondary.”
Sacrificing Peters would be a tough choice for a team that allowed a league-high 4,742 yards through the air last season. The Ravens also surrendered 31 touchdown passes, the joint-third most given up by any defense.
Peters’ absence was a big reason for the problems, and the three-time Pro-Bowler’s return to full health is being counted on to help improve things on the back end. Yet, smart work in free agency and the draft means the Ravens can risk reshaping their secondary still further.
Offseason Work Could Make Peters Expendable
Peters didn’t play a snap last season after tearing his ACL in practice back in September. The injury robbed the Ravens of one of the more opportunistic cornerbacks in the game, a cover man with 29 career interceptions.
Peters’ absence was compounded by his fellow starting corner, Marlon Humphrey, tearing a pectoral muscle in December. The combination of second-tier defensive backs and a weak pass rush consistently made the Ravens vulnerable to the pass.
DeCosta has gone all out to fix the problem this offseason. His efforts yielded free safety Marcus Williams in free agency, a signing the Ravens doubled down on when DeCosta drafted Kyle Hamilton 14th overall.
Hamilton is considered by many, including Doug Farrar of the Touchdown Wire, as the best safety in this class. He’ll join Williams and Chuck Clark and perhaps make a three-safety set the Ravens’ go-to defense in 2022.
A trio of playmakers at the safety level should make life easier for the team’s cornerbacks, but DeCosta didn’t ignore the latter position. He took Jalyn Armour-Davis off the board in the fourth round.
Armour-Davis was stingy to opposing receivers during his final season at Alabama, per The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer, who cited these numbers from PFF: “Jalyn Armour-Davis allowed just 290 yards on 44 targets (27 catches) last season.”
DeCosta also made room for another corner, sixth-rounder Damarion Williams from Houston. Depth is now stronger, so maybe the Ravens could move on from Peters. Humphrey is also a former Pro-Bowler and All-Pro, so he’s more than capable of leading a new-look rotation at his position.
Packaging an accomplished veteran like Peters with pair of picks for next years’ draft, surely including a first-rounder, ought to make the 49ers consider their options regarding Samuel. The idea of the Ravens making a play for the 2021 All-Pro is becoming a popular one, with Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports naming Baltimore a “perfect fit.”
Letting Peters go would be more than worth the price if it helped land a receiver as versatile and dynamic as Samuel.