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Can the Ravens make a run at Jets safety Jamal Adams?

Can the Ravens make a run at Jets safety Jamal Adams?

The Ravens already have one of, if not the best, secondaries in the NFL. 

But can they make it better? 

New York Jets safety Jamal Adams reportedly isn’t happy with his current situation, as he and the Jets have reached a stalemate in contract negotiations. The 24-year-old safety is one of the league’s best at his position and wants to be compensated like so. Apparently, there isn’t a number that satisfies both he and the Jets. 

With trade talks increasing around the 2017 sixth-overall pick, along with a video of former Ravens’ safety Tony Jefferson talking with Adams about Baltimore, there have been rumors flying that the Ravens are interested in Adams’ services.

The Ravens were reportedly interested in acquiring Adams at last year’s trade deadline, but no deal was made. Since then, though, the Ravens situation has changed a bit. They extended Chuck Clark to a three-year, $15.3 million deal to boost an already talented secondary to one of the league’s elite, and for the foreseeable future too. He paired with Earl Thomas last year to make the secondary a formidable one for the league's best team.

And if the Ravens want to make a run for Adams, they’ll have a few bitter pills to swallow to get him on the roster.

Without a fifth or seventh-round pick in next year’s draft, albeit with a compensatory pick for the since-departed Michael Pierce likely on the way, the Ravens already don’t have much draft capital to start with. Should they part with a first and a third-round pick as well, which is the reported asking price for Adams, they’d be left with second, fourth and sixth-round picks before the compensatory pick rolls through. Meaning, at best, they’ll be left with four picks — and just one in the draft's first two days — in next year’s draft. 

The Ravens, of course, could roll the dice on what the 2021 NFL Draft could look like with the looming threat of a diminished, or canceled altogether, college football season. That would certainly require some strong knowledge of the prospect of a 2020 college season, as well as a gutsy call from general manager Eric DeCosta. 

If the Ravens decide Adams is worth the first and third-round picks the Jets are reportedly asking for, they’ll run into another problem: How to fit him on the roster. 

Clark’s extension signaled the Ravens were confident and comfortable with him starting in the secondary as the team’s director of traffic. That leaves Thomas, who just completed the first year of his four-year contract with the Ravens.

His cap number starts at $15 million in 2020 and rises by $1 million per season until the 2022 season. He’ll create $10 million in dead money after the 2020 season if the Ravens want to get out of his deal with a savings of just $6 million against the cap. After the 2021 season, the dead money dips to $5 million and the cap savings rise to $12 million. 

Either way, it’s not a desirable situation if the Ravens want to move on from the 31-year-old safety to bring in Adams. A trade partner for Thomas isn’t likely, either. 

Unless the Ravens are comfortable with playing three safeties on the field at one time, which they certainly could do consistently with Clark’s ability to play in the box, there’s not an easy answer to how to make the puzzle pieces work. 

And if the Ravens are able to slide Adams in and make the situation work on the field, he’s still up for a new contract, of which there are two years left. That deal would likely come in around $15 million per season.

Adams wants to be compensated like one of the best safeties in the NFL, and rightfully so. But that might not fit with what the Ravens can afford, with Clark and Thomas already in the fold. Marcus Peters and Tavon Young have already gotten their contracts, and Marlon Humphrey is due for one in the next two years, too. Simply, the Ravens cannot afford to devote that significant of a percentage to their secondary. 

Additionally, they’re due to pay tight end Mark Andrews, tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. and quarterback Lamar Jackson in the next few seasons. The Ravens have got to be smart about who they’re paying, when they’re paying them, and how they’re paying them.

DeCosta has assuredly thought all of this through. 

And while the prospect of adding yet another All-Pro player to the Ravens would help them become perhaps the league’s best team on paper, that’s exactly where the Adams thoughts hit some major flaws. 

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Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Rostered outside linebackers: Matthew Judon, Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Aaron Adoeye, Chauncey Rivers, Marcus Willoughby, John Daka.

If there was one position of “need” the Ravens didn’t address this offseason, it was outside linebacker.

The Ravens instead added to their interior defensive line and inside linebacking corps, but didn’t add a notable free agent or draft pick at outside linebacker. Instead, they’re set to run back the group from a year ago. 

The team ranked 21st in the NFL a year ago in sacks with 37, but second in quarterback knockdowns. Essentially, the team dialed up pressure more than anyone else in the league but didn’t get home enough. Now, they're hopeful they've fixed that problem.

And if there is a trickle-down benefit to the outside linebackers of those additions elsewhere, it’s that the Ravens’ outside linebackers should have more one-on-one matchups on the outside. Notably, that includes Matthew Judon. 

He finished the year with 9.5 sacks a season ago and had 33 quarterback hits — more than three times the second-place finisher on the roster. And now, he’ll play on the franchise tag in his fifth season in the league. As the team’s top pass-rusher, he’s got a lot of pressure on his back entering the 2020 season. 

RELATED: HOW MUCH WILL THE ROOKIE LB's MAKE AN IMPACT ON THE DEFENSE?

If Judon is able to become an upper-tier pass-rusher this season, he’ll not only boost the Ravens’ defense, he’ll cement his monster contract that appears on the horizon, whether that comes from the Ravens or another team. 

But while Judon is the headliner of the Ravens’ edge rushers, in terms of success of the team this season, he might not be the most important part of the front seven. It might end up being whoever lines up across from him. 

Judon has shown the ability to be a No. 1 pass-rusher in the NFL, and with the benefit of an improved defense around him, it’s reasonable to assume he can repeat his 9.5 sack performance — or better it — in 2020. That shouldn't be the worry.

Where the true test will come, however, is who lines up as the second outside linebacker on the depth chart. 

Pernell McPhee had three sacks last season, but missed a majority of the season with a torn triceps. The team used rookie Jaylon Ferguson, who had 2.5 sacks, and Tyus Bowser, who had five sacks, in his absence.

With Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe on the defensive line, it’s reasonable to assume that the Ravens’ outside linebackers will get more favorable matchups. 

And if Judon and the host of other outside linebackers are able to get more one-on-one matchups, the Ravens’ could wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks in 2020. 

So while the Ravens didn’t address their outside linebacker position this offseason, the additions elsewhere on the roster should provide the benefit that position group needed.

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Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

According to a report from ProFootballTalk, the NFL has scrapped its first and fourth preseason games this season and cut the preseason in half. 

The Ravens were scheduled to play the Bills at home on Aug. 14 to open the season, then end the preseason on Sept. 3 against the Redskins. 

RELATED: TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: INSIDE LINEBACKER

Now, the Ravens’ tentative preseason schedule will have one road game, at the Cowboys on Aug. 22, and home against the Panthers on Aug. 30. 

According to the report, the move was spurred on by two factors: Firstly, that road teams would have trouble moving that many bodies and risk spreading COVID-19. Secondly, that no team has had on-field workouts this summer. Now, with training camps scheduled to start on July 28, teams will have more time to prepare for the season. 

The move came with coronavirus cases continually rising in the United States a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci said new cases could reach 100,000 per day if more preventative measures were not taken. On June 30, the U.S. had 46,042 new cases, the second-highest total since the pandemic began.

Baltimore is still set to report to camp at the end of the month, as is the rest of the NFL. With the new preseason schedule, they’ll have about three weeks to prepare for the first on-field game action of the season. 

The Ravens haven’t lost in the preseason since Sept. 3, 2015, when they lost 20-19 to the Falcons. 

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