Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, somehow, enter Week 7 with a 5-1 record.
At times, Jackson and the Ravens have resembled the team that went 14-2 a year ago. But there has been a lingering hangover of sorts for Jackson, the reigning MVP, and his team so far.
For the Baltimore Ravens to overcome that hangover, they may want to acquire a specific — and semi-pricey — defensive playmaker.
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have looked inconsistent
Outside of an ugly Week 3 loss to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Lamar Jackson has played at a high level this season.
The unanimous MVP a year ago, Jackson is completing 63% of his passes for 1,135 yards, 10 touchdowns, and two interceptions. The dynamic Jackson also picked up 346 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 6.9 yards per carry in those six games.
Jackson started hot but has completed fewer than 60% of his passes in three of Baltimore’s last four games.
Although Baltimore is 5-1, the Ravens nearly blew a big lead against Carson Wentz and the Eagles in Week 6. Baltimore held on, 30-28, for the third straight victory.
Yannick Ngakoue is a terrific pass-rusher
If Lamar Jackson gets his way and asserts some of his power, Baltimore should be in the market for an impactful defensive playmaker as the trade deadline approaches.
The Athletic recently asked its NFL beat writers to project the upcoming trade deadline. Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens’ beat writer, suggested the Ravens make a play for Ngakoue before he potentially hits free agency.
“If the Vikings drop another game or two before the deadline and they don’t like their chances of re-signing Ngakoue, could they look to recoup a draft pick or two? Ravens fans, who have long coveted the former Maryland standout, certainly hope so.”
The trade deadline is Tuesday, November 3.
A Pro Bowl selection in 2017, Ngakoue has totaled 42.5 sacks, forced 16 fumbles, snagged two interceptions, and scored two touchdowns in 69 games since he entered the NFL in 2016.
Still only 25, Ngakoue — who was raised in Washington, D.C., and impressed at the University of Maryland — has five sacks through five games with the Vikings.
Ngakoue is making $12 million this season on the franchise tag.
Jackson and the Ravens would benefit from Ngakoue’s presence
Baltimore is 5-1 and on pace to control its own destiny. The Minnesota Vikings are, surprisingly, 1-5 and on pace for their first losing season since 2014.
That combination bodes well for a potential trade between the two. Baltimore lost both of Lamar Jackson’s first two playoff starts and adding another capable weapon like Yannick Ngakoue could break that trend.
Although Ngakoue is a free agent after this season, he is also one of the NFL’s top sack artists. In August, Minnesota traded a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick to Jacksonville to acquire Ngakoue’s services.
Would the Ravens be willing to trade their own first-round pick to Minnesota if they had a chance at signing Ngakoue to a long-term deal? Possibly, but Jackson is eligible for a contract extension next year, and the Ravens will likely give him a tremendous contract.
Baltimore has taken plenty of risks before if the team felt it was worth it. Acquiring Ngakoue, even if it means giving up a first-round pick, is surely worth it if Baltimore hopes to win a Super Bowl in Jackson’s prime.