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With less than 24-hours to go until the NFL trade deadline, the Baltimore Ravens made a surprise move, except it is not the move most would have expected. Wide receiver, Willie Snead, now in his second year with the Ravens, agreed to a one-year contract extension worth $6 million, to secure him in Baltimore for the 2020 season according to ESPN’s NFL Insider, Adam Schefter.

The idea of re-signing Willie Snead at this point in the year may not appear to be a wise decision on the surface. Snead only has 223 yards on 15 receptions so far this year. That’s an average of 2.1 catches for 31.9 yards per game. He’s also Baltimore’s third-best receiver in an offense that focuses heavily on the ground. When the circumstances are further examined, however, the signing will make more sense. The Ravens were set to lose half of the receiving corps in 2020, and the mass exodus would have left Baltimore with just Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, and Jaleel Scott on the roster. Extending Snead’s contract prevents a third consecutive year where the wide receiver position is completely overhauled and provides Lamar Jackson with the comfort of familiar weapons. It is also important to note the timing of this move. A move like this less than 24-hours before the trade deadline seems to suggest that the Ravens are anticipating another move.

There is no concrete evidence of this yet, but the logical assumption is that the Ravens are restructuring Snead’s contract to open more salary-cap space for the remainder of this year (Baltimore only has about $2 million in wiggle room). The Baltimore Ravens are tied for the second-best record in the American Football Conference at 5-2. If the Ravens can pull ahead of the Colts and Bills, Baltimore would be looking at the chance to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs, a feat not achieved by the Ravens since 2011. Obviously, a first-round bye would dramatically enhance the Ravens’ chances at winning a Super Bowl this year, but the Ravens need to address one key area before being noted as a serious contender.

They need a pass rusher.

The Ravens’ pass rush was already lackluster before Pernell McPhee, who notched three sacks this year, got hurt. The only pass rushers left on the roster are (starter) Matthew Judon, (developing backup) Jaylon Ferguson, (so-far disappointment, but the jury is still out) Tyus Bowser, and (recent free-agent acquisition) Ufomba Kamalu. That’s not a very good group, to say the least.

The fate of the pass rush can be changed with a trade right before the deadline. Players like the Broncos’ Derek Wolfe, or the Jaguars’ Yannick Ngakoue might be available, and with the extra draft capital the Ravens are expected to receive from the compensatory formula, Baltimore has no reason to be thrifty. A move to secure a prominent pass rusher, even if just for this year, could be enough to push the Ravens over the edge, and make them the team to beat in the AFC.

This move pushes the trade-hypothesis to a new level, but until it happens, none of this speculation can be held as truth. We will just have to wait and see.

Buckle up, it’s going to be a wild 21 hours.

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