The Baltimore Ravens will begin their 2023 NFL season in Week 1 by hosting rookie quarterback CJ Stroud and the Houston Texans on the league’s opening Sunday. There are several Ravens trades that the team could make between now and then. Baltimore could look to make an upgrade at guard or add depth to the secondary. But the best move the team can make with Week 1 rapidly approaching is to give Lamar Jackson as many weapons as possible to supercharge the offense. That is why Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is the player to target for a last-minute Ravens trade before Week 1 of the new season.
The Ravens must trade for RB Jonathan Taylor before Week 1 of the upcoming season
It was a dramatic offseason for the Ravens as the Lamar Jackson contract drama was the No. 1 story in the entire NFL. The will they, won’t they regarding an extension, the franchise tag, a potential trade or offer sheet made for some tense moments in Baltimore.
Despite seeming to drag on forever, Jackson ultimately signed his new deal in late April, becoming the highest-paid player in the league and ending the intrigue around the Ravens for the foreseeable future.
Once Jackson was signed up at $52 million per season, the front office went to work putting weapons around him that would help justify that investment.
The team drafted wider receiver Zay Flowers and signed Odell Beckham Jr. and guard John Simpson, who will now be the Ravens’ starting LG in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.
Maybe most importantly, head coach John Harbaugh replaced polarizing offensive coordinator Greg Roman with Georgia OC Todd Monken. The back-to-back national champion play-caller seems like he’s bringing a breath of fresh air to the team’s offense in the preseason.
The only offensive position group the team didn’t upgrade was at running back. Once again, the players in the Ravens’ backfield will be JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill. They also signed veteran Melvin Gordon III, but after the Denver Broncos waived him midseason and he won a Super Bowl on the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad, it looks like the 30-year-old’s best days are behind him.
The AFC is an arms race this season as the Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, and Broncos all have legitimate playoff aspirations.
A Ravens trade for Jonathan Taylor would help the franchise get a leg up on their competition and give Monken the type of talent superiority he had in the college ranks.
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Jackson has been the Ravens leading rusher each season since 2019, which was the year the Ravens last had a 1,000-yard running back in Mark Ingraham. The team hasn’t even had a 600-yard RB since 2020, when Dobbins and Edwards had 805 and 723 yards, respectively. Yet, the Ravens are willing to run it back yet again with Dobbins and Edwards.
Jonathan Taylor massively changes the dynamic of the Ravens’ offense. If the team gets a fraction of the player Taylor was in 2021, the Baltimore O could be unstoppable. Two seasons ago, Taylor led the league in carries, rushing yards, rushing TDs, rushing yards per game, yards from scrimmage, and total touchdowns. Only Cooper Kupp’s historic receiving season stopped him from winning the Offensive Player of the Year Award.
The rushing potential of having Jackson and Taylor in the backfield is incredible, and with the team’s upgraded passing options, defenses wouldn’t know what to do.
The Ravens making a trade in the waning days of the preseason ahead of Week 1 of the regular season isn’t the franchise’s style. It would likely cost at least a second-round pick and more, and the organization loves its picks.
Ultimately, the front office, ownership, and coaching staff must decide how badly they want to win another Super Bowl. Leaving the team as it is keeps the Ravens in the second tier of AFC contenders underneath the Chiefs, Bills, and Bengals. If the Ravens make a Jonathan Taylor trade, it immediately vaults them into that group and possibly to the front of it.
Going all-in on a Super Bowl push worked out for the Los Angeles Rams two years ago, and now the Ravens have a chance to do it. And at the same time, while Taylor is expensive in terms of money or draft picks, he’s not a one-year rental like several of the players the Rams got in 2021.
A Taylor trade would be a calculated risk but one that is worth making for the Ravens this season.