The Ravens have made several attempts to upgrade their pass-rushing corps this offseason. In addition to a creative sign-and-trade attempt to land Jadeveon Clowney, which was nixed by the league, Baltimore also tried to trade for former Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
© Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports Yannick Ngakoue would end up going to the Vikings.
La Canfora says the Ravens and Jags were “deep in talks” and had agreed that Baltimore would send a second-round pick to Jacksonville in exchange for Ngakoue, but the Ravens’ salary-cap situation ultimately prevented a deal from being completed. At the time of the trade discussions, the Ravens had roughly $6M in cap space, and while the team did create some (perhaps temporary) room when it released Earl Thomas, Baltimore apparently was not comfortable depleting all of its reserves.
Ultimately, Ngakoue was sent to the Vikings and agreed to reduce his 2020 salary from around $18M to $12M in order to facilitate the trade. The Maryland product likely would have been willing to make a similar concession to make a Ravens trade work, but even a $12M salary would have forced Baltimore to create cap space elsewhere via restructure or extension.
The team did just create $3M in cap space several days ago by reworking Brandon Williams‘ contract, and look for the Ravens to continue their pursuit of a pass-rusher. Baltimore is said to be monitoring Ziggy Ansah, and perhaps a deal will come together after Week 1. Failing that, general manager Eric DeCosta could swing a trade in advance of this year’s deadline, just as he did last year in acquiring CB Marcus Peters from the Rams.
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Related slideshow: Predicting the division and award winners for the 2020 NFL season (Provided by Yardbarker)
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Predicting the division and award winners for the 2020 NFL season
The NFL has thus far navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and is less than a week away from Week 1. With that in mind, here are some obviously spot-on predictions for how the league's 101st season will unfold.
© Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
AFC East: Bills stroll to first division title in 25 years
The centerpieces of the Bills' homegrown nucleus were not alive when the franchise last won a division championship. That happened in 1995, Jim Kelly's penultimate season. But the Josh Allen-, Tre'Davious White- and Tremaine Edmunds-led core will give Buffalo a postseason home game -- assuming the playoffs are not in a bubble. Top to bottom, the Bills' roster outflanks the Patriots'. Buffalo sports an intriguing, retooled defensive line rotation, and Stefon Diggs is a top-three NFL route runner. With the Dolphins and Jets non-factors, this well-constructed Bills roster will prevail -- and win the East by multiple games.
© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
AFC North: Steelers re-emergence tests Ravens
With a .438 opponents' win percentage (from 2019), the Ravens have the NFL's easiest schedule. But the Mason Rudolph-quarterbacked Steelers and Freddie Kitchens-led Browns trainwreck contribute to that number. Both teams will be more formidable in 2020. The NFL's highest-variance team, the Steelers return 10 starters from DVOA's No. 3 defense last year. If Ben Roethlisberger looks close to his 2018 version, this is a Super Bowl contender. Kevin Stefanski's Browns cannot be worse than Kitchens'. However, the Ravens now employ Calais Campbell and J.K. Dobbins. They will win a third straight AFC North crown.
© Matt Kryger/IndyStar
AFC South: Colts' front five resurrects Philip Rivers
In an offseason when continuity was paramount, the Colts not only returned their entire offensive line from 2019. This group was Indianapolis' primary O-line in 2018. The Quenton Nelson-fronted quintet enters 2020 as Pro Football Focus' top line. Philip Rivers is making a Baltic Ave.-to-Park Place move, in going from a broken-down Chargers O-line to this one, and the Marlon Mack-Jonathan Taylor ground game will be enough for a balanced Colts team to overtake the Texans and Titans. Houston's embattled defense, which may have gotten worse this offseason, will make it too difficult for Deshaun Watson to drag the team back to the playoffs.
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© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
AFC West: it would truly take a miracle
A better Chiefs team than the Super Bowl LIV champions exudes both continuity and elite talent. Its three AFC West rivals all look to have improved from 2019 as well, but while the Chiefs may have gone from an A to an A-plus, the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders are well off that level. The Broncos' young quarterback-new OC-rookie receivers-shaky tackles setup will hold them back, and the Bolts have saddled a strong roster with either a journeyman QB (Tyrod Taylor) or a raw rookie (Justin Herbert). The Raiders have the division's highest non-Chiefs floor. It is quite a journey between these floors.
© Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
NFC East: Cowboys' talent will break through
The defending division champs are already down four starters -- O-linemen Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard and wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor. Despite losing All-Pro Travis Frederick and Pro Bowler Byron Jones, the Cowboys are in a stronger position. They do have a new coaching staff -- a dicey prospect in 2020 -- but OC Kellen Moore's return and CeeDee Lamb's arrival give Dak Prescott luxurious amenities Carson Wentz lacks. Mike McCarthy will provide an upgrade on Jason Garrett and leave the Eagles to fend for a wild-card spot. Washington and the Giants do not factor into this discussion.
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NFC North: division of closing windows
Each team in this division may be near the end of its respective chapter, and this collection of closing contention windows oddly gives the NFC North a competitive feel. The Packers still employ the division's top quarterback, though Matthew Stafford was pushing for that title last year before his back injury, and have several well-paid defenders. The Kirk Cousins-era Vikings are 1-11 against 10-win teams and will have rookies in key roles in a bad year to do so. Green Bay's continuity, even following a panned offseason, could be enough as Aaron Rodgers begins an audition for a late-30s gig elsewhere.
© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
NFC South: football gods provide belated treat
Shades of Joe Montana moving into John Elway's division 27 years ago, the NFL schedule contains two Tom Brady-Drew Brees matchups. This is a rare opportunity for fans to savor the all-time greats' work. Brees' team has fewer questions, featuring the longest-running QB-head coach tandem -- with he and Sean Payton replacing Brady and Bill Belichick -- and possessing few noticeable weaknesses. The Bucs have done well to surround their 43-year-old passer with big names, but the switch from Josh McDaniels' offense to Bruce Arians -- after a nixed offseason -- may result in the Saints running away with this division.
© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
NFC West: no division looks better
If the Cardinals can make good on their sleeper label, this NFC West iteration could be historically good. But DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray have not shared the field much. The Rams and Seahawks still carry major questions about their respective offensive lines, with the latter again bizarrely testing Russell Wilson with an underwhelming blocking quintet. Kyle Shanahan's team possesses the division's most defensive talent, despite trading DeForest Buckner, and its best rushing attack. It would not be surprising if three NFC West teams made the playoffs, but the 49ers should have enough to secure the "home" playoff game.
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Patriots will miss playoffs for first time in 12 years
The 2008 Patriots won 11 games but missed the playoffs. This year's Pats will need about everything to break their way to get to 11-5. Even if Bill Belichick, Stephon Gilmore and Co. give New England its 17th top-10 scoring defense in 20 years, a franchise that has lived off wide error margins no longer has one on offense. Cam Newton has not stayed healthy since 2015, his most recent above-average season, and the Pats have unreliable tackles and mostly unproven receivers. They also face the NFL's toughest schedule. It will be fun to see Belichick's solution efforts, but circumstances do not favor his team.
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
But the Browns will capitalize on expanded field
Counting on a 38-year-old head coach with barely one season of play-calling experience for adult-in-the-room status -- after a pandemic-redefined offseason -- is on-brand Browns. But Kevin Stefanski (with Gary Kubiak's help) just revived Minnesota's offense. He has more talent in Cleveland. The Browns' Jack Conklin signing and Jedrick Wills first-round pick could make a considerable difference in Baker Mayfield's career, which veered off course in Freddie Kitchens' disastrous season. It is OK to believe in the Browns this year. They will be the fringe contender that seizes the No. 7 seed in 2020's new playoff era.
© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Beware the hype
These Buccaneers will not flounder like the 2019 Browns, but Tampanians and non-Florida-based Tom Brady supporters will need patience. The Bucs only have six games against teams that finished with winning records last year, but thrusting a 43-year-old quarterback into a new system without much practice time may limit Bruce Arians' team early. Brady's descent from No. 6 to No. 17 in QBR from 2018-19 can be attributed to shaky Patriots weaponry. However, the Bucs are gambling with their big swing for Brady. The Saints will also make the Bucs' push to play all postseason games in Tampa -- the site of Super Bowl LV -- quite dicey.
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Washington set for seminal decision
Despite the Jaguars' purported tank operation, the Washington Football Team ends up with the 2021 No. 1 overall pick. Washington's lack of weaponry outside of Terry McLaurin and issues up front beyond Brandon Scherff end up minimizing the impact of its defensive line success. Ron Rivera will be in position to draft Trevor Lawrence, a near-lock to declare after his junior year, or trade the pick to the Jags, Panthers or someone else for a bounty of picks that could help salvage Dwayne Haskins' career in Washington.
© Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Coach of the Year: Frank Reich
Kevin Stefanski guiding the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years will warrant consideration; so will Sean McDermott's Bills winning an AFC East championship. But Reich mounted a strong Coach of the Year case in 2018, when the award went to Matt Nagy. Reich piloting his team to the AFC South title will put him on the precipice. Philip Rivers rebounding at age 39 will cinch up the award for Reich, who is on his third starting passer in three Indianapolis seasons.
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© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Comeback Player of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger
Finally given a reliable defense again -- something he has lacked since the early 2010s -- Roethlisberger has a chance to have a major say in the AFC playoff race. All accounts are Big Ben has recovered from the elbow injury that stopped his 2019 season two games in, and the Steelers' contention hopes rest almost solely with their 38-year-old quarterback. Roethlisberger may have four starter-caliber receivers, with second round size-speed freak Chase Claypool added to the mix, and Eric Ebron to target. The 2018 passing leader will do enough to reposition the Steelers as contenders and win this award.
© Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Passing-game assimilation will be difficult, raising the bar for rookie quarterbacks and wide receivers. The coronavirus-altered landscape points to running backs having an easier time hitting their professional stride by comparison, and none is in better position than Edwards-Helaire. The No. 32 overall pick will play for the NFL's premier play-caller and its best quarterback; the Andy Reid-Patrick Mahomes tandem will turn the LSU product into an instant success. The Chiefs' bevy of aerial weapons will make Edwards-Helaire's tasks easier, and the tackle-eluding dynamo could make a big difference for the defending champs.
© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chase Young
No need to overthink here. The Washington defensive end was the 2020 draft's best player -- perhaps by a wide margin -- and he will anchor a loaded defensive line. Washington's five first-round D-linemen remind of San Francisco's setup, and this talent collection will allow Young easier paths to quarterbacks. Jevon Kearse's 14.5 sacks in 1999 represent the standard for rookie sack artists. Young registered 16.5 in 12 games last season. Expect the freak athlete to follow ex-Buckeye teammate Nick Bosa in claiming this award.
© Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive Player of the Year: T.J. Watt
Somewhat quietly, the Steelers have led the NFL in sacks in each of the past three seasons. Last year, that resulted in a defensive resurgence. At the center of the ascent: the youngest of the NFL Watts. T.J. Watt has registered 27.5 sacks and forced 14 fumbles over the past two seasons, and the Steelers franchise-tagged Bud Dupree to keep Watt's wingman around. With Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt representing handfuls up front, Watt is again in position to dominate. The 2019 All-Pro will help keep the Steelers as a difference-making defense and claim a fourth DPOY award for the Watts.
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MVP & Offensive Player of the Year: Patrick Mahomes
No need to separate an offensive player of the year, because Mahomes is positioned to approach or surpass his stunning 2018 season. Now in his third year as a starter, Mahomes has the NFL's best set of weapons and the league's premier offensive architect. Andy Reid will have options at his disposal he did not have in 2018 or '19, with his 24-year-old superstar having proven himself through two full seasons and on the biggest of stages. With more ways to vex defenses than Lamar Jackson possesses, Mahomes is poised to match Kurt Warner by winning two MVPs in his first three QB1 seasons.
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Barring playoff bubble, AFC will go through Baltimore
Seeds: 1. Ravens; 2. Chiefs; 3. Bills; 4. Colts; 5. Steelers; 6. Titans; 7. BrownsWild-card round: Chiefs over Browns; Bills over Titans; Steelers over ColtsDivisional round: Ravens over Steelers; Chiefs over BillsA Week 3 win over a Chiefs team that will be missing multiple defenders due to suspensions breaks the AFC's 13-3 tie in the Ravens' favor. The Bills pick up their first playoff win in 25 years, and Ben Roethlisberger moves to 2-0 over Philip Rivers in the postseason. Despite the Bills' superior defense, Josh Allen cannot keep pace with Patrick Mahomes in Round 2. Baltimore takes advantage of the solo-bye format to advance.
© Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans atop stacked NFC field
Seeds: 1. Saints; 2. 49ers; 3. Cowboys; 4. Packers; 5. Seahawks; 6. Buccaneers; 7. EaglesWild-card round: 49ers over Eagles; Cowboys over Buccaneers; Seahawks over PackersDivisional round: Saints over Seahawks; Cowboys over 49ersTom Brady's Bucs finish well behind the Saints in the NFC South, and the Cowboys -- who feature fans at their stadium all season long -- end Year 1 of the "Tompa Bay" experiment. The Seahawks avenge last season's Round 2 defeat, while the Eagles' depleted offensive line cannot handle the 49ers' pass rush. Dak Prescott, however, outplays Jimmy Garoppolo a week later to give Dallas its first NFC championship game berth in 25 years.
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AFC championship: new QB rivalry has definitive favorite
The Chiefs' low-level investments at cornerback do not cost them against the run-reliant Ravens, who are more dependent on a certain game script than the other AFC powerhouse. In this reality, Baltimore has defeated Kansas City on a Week 3 Monday night in Maryland, but Patrick Mahomes moves to 3-1 against Lamar Jackson in this potentially 2020s-defining series. Armed with a layered passing attack -- and reliable tackles in Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher -- the Chiefs move to their fourth Super Bowl.
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NFC championship: single-bye setup lifts No. 1 seed
The ability to rest starters in Week 17 and having earned the lone January bye -- thanks to the new seven-team bracket -- proves key for a Saints team built around a now-42-year-old Drew Brees. Mike McCarthy was 1-3 in NFC championship games in Green Bay. Although Sean Payton's team has endured some of the NFL's most crushing playoff defeats in NFL history over the past 10 years, the deeper Saints -- whose offensive line houses three Pro Bowlers and an emerging standout in center Erik McCoy -- move past the Cowboys and into their second Super Bowl.
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Super Bowl LV: years-long quest produces championship
The Saints' stellar 2017 draft class helped reopen their Drew Brees-created Super Bowl window, but a historic misplay and a season-defining officiating mishap cost previous dominant New Orleans editions. The NFL's best roster finally puts it all together in Tampa, edging the defending Super Bowl champions in a tactical shootout between Sean Payton and Andy Reid. New Orleans' Emmanuel Sanders addition pays off, with the veteran -- who has already played in Super Bowls with three different teams -- giving Brees the WR2 he has lacked since the Saints traded Brandin Cooks three years ago.
Gallery: 10 Colts to watch vs. Jaguars in Week 1 (SMG)
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/ravens-tried-to-trade-for-yannick-ngakoue/ar-BB18ZouL