The Baltimore Ravens are one of the NFL’s youngest franchises, having only been around since 1995. But the team has managed to make some of the greatest trades in NFL history during their short time in the league. Here are the five best.
5. Anquan Boldin (2010)
One of the more underrated wide receivers in NFL history, Boldin formed a fantastic duo with Larry Fitzgerald for the Arizona Cardinals. In 2010, as Boldin was entering the final year of his contract, he was sent, along with a fifth-rounder, to the Ravens in exchange for third- and fourth-round picks.
He immediately signed a three-year $25 million deal with Baltimore and played three seasons for the team, catching a total of 186 passes for 2,645 yards and 14 touchdowns. During the team’s Super Bowl run in 2012, Boldin hauled in 22 passes for 380 yards and four scores, playing a huge role in Joe Flacco’s legendary postseason success.
Boldin is unlikely to be voted into the Hall of Fame, but he does rank ninth all-time in receptions (1.076) and 14th in receiving yards (13,779). He wasn’t with the Ravens for very long, but his impact was massive.
4. Haloti Ngata (2006)
Division rivals usually don’t trade with each other, and this is a perfect example of why. The Cleveland Browns were picking 12th overall, and the Ravens were one spot behind them. Baltimore sent a sixth-rounder to swap places with the Browns. Cleveland ended up with pass-rusher Kamerion Wimbley, who, after totaling 11 sacks as a rookie, looked like he was on the path to stardom. But Wimbley failed to develop as hoped, and didn’t earn a second contract with the Browns.
Meanwhile, the Ravens took defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who made five Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in nine seasons with Baltimore. He was a key part of some excellent defenses, and his play during the 2012 playoffs was instrumental to the Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII.
Ngata dealt with injuries throughout his entire career but missed very few games. Because of those injuries, he is considered a “Hall of Very Good” player, but is one of the all-time great Ravens nonetheless.
3. Joe Flacco (2008)
The Ravens held the eighth overall pick in 2008, but traded down to No. 26. Before that, the team offered all of their picks to the St. Louis Rams to move up to No. 2 overall to select Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, but the Rams declined. Ryan went the next pick to the Atlanta Falcons. With their primary target off the board, Baltimore traded down. However, they weren’t done moving around for the night.
The team’s next target was Delaware signal-caller Joe Flacco, and in order to make sure they got him, the Ravens sent three picks to the Houston Texans for the 18th overall selection. Flacco spent 11 years in Baltimore, and while he never made a Pro Bowl, he was elite when it counted, putting together one of the greatest postseason runs in NFL history, throwing for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions while leading the team a Super Bowl XLVII victory in 2012.
Flacco is the greatest quarterback in franchise history, although the next player on this list might overtake him soon.
2. Lamar Jackson (2018)
Former general manager Ozzie Newsome’s final draft with the Ravens didn’t start out too well. The team started out with the 16th pick, but traded down to No. 22 with the Buffalo Bills for an extra third-rounder while giving up a fifth-round pick in the process. Then, Baltimore moved back to No. 25 with the Tennessee Titans, throwing in a sixth-rounder to gain a fourth-rounder. Neither trade was great from a value perspective, and when the Ravens finally chose a player, things got even worse.
The pick was 24-year-old tight end Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina. Baltimore has had the NFL’s most TE-friendly offense over the past two seasons, but Hurst was unable to make an impact. He was targeted only 62 times in two years, catching 43 passes for 512 yards and three touchdowns. This past offseason, he was traded, along with a fourth-rounder, to the Atlanta Falcons for second and fifth-round picks.
The team’s next move more than made up fro the Hurst blunder. The Philadelphia Eagles held the last pick of the first round, and Newsome moved up from the second round (along with two picks) and gained a fourth-round pick in the process.
With the 32nd overall pick, the Ravens chose Louisville passer Lamar Jackson, a dynamic dual-threat player the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Michael Vick nearly 20 years earlier. Jackson has had two complete duds in the playoffs, but he made great strides from his rookie year to 2019, winning the MVP award after a fantastic campaign. It’s still too early to call him a guaranteed franchise quarterback, and he really does need to perform in the playoffs, but this could easily be the best trade in franchise history within three years.
1. Marshal Yanda (2007)
Yanda announced his retirement this offseason, which leaves a gaping hole in Baltimore’s offensive line. After spending his first four seasons at right tackle, Yanda kicked inside to guard 2011, and for nine years was one of the game’s truly elite offensive lineman.
He made eight Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams and should be a Hall of Famer at some point. He was a third-round pick in 2007, a selection acquired after the Ravens sent three late-round draft picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 89th pick.
A very small investment for a very great player. Yanda, like most offensive lineman, never really got the recognition he deserved, but that won’t matter when he’s enshrined in Canton someday.