To Trade Or Not To Trade? The Willis McGahee Situation


Joe’s note: I apologize for the lack of content the last few days. I unexpectedly lost internet capability and just got it back tonight. Because of this, I wasn’t able to post anything or correspond with the other staff about what they should post. Today we have an article by Justin about Willis McGahee and whether the speculation of him being traded for a cornerback would be a smart idea. I’ll have my take about it tomorrow. Enjoy.

Running back Willis McGahee and the Baltimore Ravens have had an up-and-down, love/hate relationship during McGahee’s tenure as a Raven to the say the least. With the emergence of Ray Rice and Le’Ron McClain in the running game and with the solid young talent the Ravens have in the backfield, is it finally time for the two sides to part ways?

Read on to find out what I think about this issue, being a passionate Ravens fan.

As many die-hard, or even casual football know that once a running back reaches their late 20’s or early 30’s, their career in the NFL comes to a crashing halt, with the exceptions of the league’s top rushers. The beating they take is so severe and constant that it’s just tough to keep up with the younger, fresher new players. However, an exception can be made here as running back Willis McGahee has not been the feature back in Baltimore since the dog-days of 2007, where he rushed for well over 1,200 yards. With the drafting of Ray Rice in 2008 and the emergence of Le’Ron McClain as a threat in the running game, the Ravens have developed a three-headed monster which I like to call “Earth, Wind, and Fire”. This reduced workload should keep him effective for a few more years to come.

Rice has been the focal point and primary runner for the Ravens while McClain has been featured in goal-line and 4th quarter situations to break down defenses in the trenches. McGahee was mostly featured last year as the Ravens redzone running back, capitalizing on his opportunities by scoring an impressive 12 rushing touchdowns (his most since scoring 13 with Buffalo back in 2004). Having said all that, is a guy like McGahee truly indispensable or irreplaceable, especially when you might be able to get an established veteran cornerback for him? In just one word, the answer is…NO!

Each good NFL team has anywhere from 2-5 players that are untouchable or considered “faces of the franchise”, and Willis McGahee just cannot be considered one of those players anymore. McGahee, who played a pivotal role in last year’s run to the playoffs, contributing 544 yards on just 109 carries (5.0 average per carry) along with the 12 touchdowns, was a nice boost for a Ravens team who was merely one dimensional offensively last season. However, McGahee’s presence in this year’s offense wont mean what it once did, with the additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth to the passing game, and the drafting of Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. This will only help bolster the Ravens offense, making them into both a passing and running team, not just the offense with a potent ground attack that we have all been accustomed to seeing since the turn of the century. That being said, are we finally starting to see the final days of Willis McGahee as a Raven and began to see his auditions for other teams in the pre-season?

At this point in his career, McGahee may still be able to carry the load for an NFL team, but that team is probably no longer the Baltimore Ravens, with the fresh young legs of Ray Rice and Le’Ron McClain and with the emergence of former Toledo standout Jalen Parmele, it appears that the Ravens could handle the impact of the loss of a Willis McGahee. Parmele, who has seen limited action with the Ravens in both 2008 and 2009, is looking poised to not only to make this year’s Ravens team, but to contribute and be a difference maker in an offense that already features over a half-dozen playmakers. Not only is Parmele a solid, hard-nosed physical runner, but he has also proven to be a standout in the Ravens’ return game, which has been a position the team has struggled to fill ever since the departure of Jermaine Lewis. Parmele must improve on his ball carrying skills, as his fumble in the team’s first preseason game almost proved costly as the Ravens only escaped with a 5-point win.

The old saying that I hear more and more with championship-caliber teams is, “You have to give up something to get something.”, and in this case if it means the Ravens parting ways with the oft-injured McGahee, I’m personally all for it. Having that said, I’ve already heard speculation that the Denver Broncos, who have a rash of injuries at the running back position (most notably 2nd year star Knowshown Moreno and veteran Correll Buckhalter), need a guy to fill the void until those pieces return to a Denver team that already faces an uphill struggle in a division that is looking tough this year. The Broncos did go out and sign former Raiders running back Justin Fargas who has proven to be a solid contributor in the NFL, but by no means the player that McGahee has proven to be over his inconsistent career.

A deal which would make sense for both teams and be more than beneficial for both sides is somehing involving Broncos’ corner Andre Goodman in exchange for McGahee. Goodman, 32, has bounced around in the NFL but in his last two years in the league (2008 with the Dolphins and 2009 with the Broncos), Goodman has started all 16 games, while recording five interceptions in each season.

A trade would be mutually beneficial as the Broncos would be picking up a feature back who can still carry the load, while the Ravens would be picking up a more than serviceable corner in Goodman, filling the void left by Lardarius Webb’s absence as he recovers from his torn ACL. Not only would Goodman fill a void but he would add veteran leadership to a secondary that has already lost two veterans for the season in Domonique Foxworth and Walt Harris.

All I know at this point is that this is complete speculation, and we can’t know now whether the Ravens will go out and trade for a cornerback, but it does make sense. As I stated, “to get something, you must give something up in return”, and the addition of Andre Goodman would probably help Coach Harbaugh and Ravens fans sleep better at night, knowing that along with Fabian Washington, he can take the pressure off of young unproven corners such as Cary Williams and Prince Miller. Throw a healthy Lardarius Webb and Chris Carr in that defensive backfield and you may be looking at a strong secondary that was in complete shambles a couple weeks ago.