NFL

Ravens and Steelers Complete First Trade Since 1997

For more than 20 years, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have waged war on each other. Countless star players have come and gone in this bitter rivalry. From Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs to Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger, there has been no shortage of elite talent between the two franchises.

While the two AFC North powerhouses have battled on the field, they couldn’t have kept more distance off of it. Until his retirement last season, Ozzie Newsome ran the Ravens’ front office and made a ton of transactions. Yet, the Hall of Fame general manager rarely called up Steelers GM Kevin Colbert.

In fact, rare isn’t even the right word. Until Friday’s deal for defensive lineman Chris Wormley, the Ravens and Steelers had only executed one trade—23 years ago.

Ravens and Steelers have one of the NFL’s fiercest rivalries

While the rosters have changed, the physical, violent nature of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry has lived on. Back in the early 2000s, Lewis, Suggs and the rest of Baltimore’s game-wrecking defense went toe-to-toe with the likes of Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. The brutality in these matchups made for must-see TV and often ended in narrow defeats.

The AFC North rivals have squared off not only in the regular season but also the playoffs. Since the Ravens became a franchise in 1996, they have faced the Steelers on four occasions in the postseason. The early matchups favored the veteran Steelers. Pittsburgh won the first three matchups by a combined score of 81-48 and won two Super Bowls in the first decade of the new millennium.

However, the Ravens won a Super Bowl of their own in 2012 thanks to a historic postseason by Joe Flacco. Baltimore finally exacted some playoff revenge in 2014 when they throttled Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. Baltimore’s front seven dominated the game, totaling five sacks and forcing two Roethlisberger interceptions. Though the teams haven’t met in the postseason since then, their rivalry will continue with 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, T.J. Watt and other stars leading the way.

Steelers and Ravens made only other trade in 1997

The last time (and only) time the Ravens and Steelers made a trade was in the second year of Baltimore’s franchise existence. Bill Clinton was president, the iPhone was almost a decade away from being invented and running backs still mattered. To put the time period in perspective, consider that one of the other trades Baltimore made that season was sending two draft picks for quarterback Jim Harbaugh. Yes, that Jim Harbaugh.

The only other player to swap sides in this rivalry was offensive lineman Bernard Dafney. The NFL journeyman started 29 games for four different franchises, including all 16 in 1994. The Ravens traded a seventh-round pick for the 6-foot-8, 324-pound lineman 23 years ago. He played just one game for the Ravens and never suited up for another NFL team. Sadly, Dafney passed away in 2006 at the age of 37.

Chris Wormley deal ends 23-year trade drought

Since taking over for the legendary Newsome, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has shown no fear about making bold moves. He signed safety Earl Thomas and running back Mark Ingram to lucrative free-agent deals. He drafted Marquise Brown in the first round. And he smartly traded for cornerback Marcus Peters.

DeCosta has been working the trade market during the first week of free agency. He stole Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth-round pick. And after adding Michael Brockers in free agency, he once again worked the phones.

However, this time DeCosta was the seller and the Steelers were ready to buy. Baltimore traded versatile defensive lineman Chris Wormley, along with a 2021 seventh-round pick, to Pittsburgh for a 2021 fifth-rounder. Wormley started 15 games since entering the league as a third-round draft pick in 2017. His addition should help the Steelers offset the loss of underrated defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. And while the trade may not move the national needle, Ravens and Steelers fans can appreciate that the transaction was a rare meeting of the minds between two rival franchises.