To Trade Or Not To Trade? The Willis McGahee Situation From A Different Take


I know that you’ve heard this a bit lately, but typical internet troubles held me back from posting this until today. It was all ready to go yesterday, but certain internet-related circumstances made it impossible for me to post. Hopefully the wait is well worth it.

Two days ago, Justin shared his opinion about the speculation that’s been surrounding Willis McGahee and the possibility of him being traded to another team in exchange for a cornerback. In a nutshell, he said he would be down and groovy for that. Today I give my take, and let’s just say it’s…different.

Read on to find out why.

As all opinionated posts need a bit of it, let’s start with some nice, tasty background information. After starter Ray Rice broke out last season to become one of the NFL’s most dangerous running backs, Willis McGahee is bound to be a backup for the rest of his years as a Raven, barring a steep drop in form from Rice. Because of this, McGahee is now seen as expendable, something that he wasn’t seen as in the past for the Purple Birds. With third-stringer Jalen Parmele having an impressive training camp, and the secondary being decimated by injury, some people argue that now is the time to deal McGahee for a sorely-needed veteran cornerback.

To put it plainly, I disagree with those thoughts entirely. First, I’ll start with the simple thing to think about, and that is the injury factor. This would come into play most with Ray Rice, but could also with fullback and part-time halfback Le’Ron McClain, who would have to carry a much bigger workload if McGahee were to be traded. Ray Rice is a stud, but he’s not a big guy. Let’s face it, someone who’s 5’9” in the NFL and takes weekly beatings from guys who are 6 inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than him comes with a high risk of injury.

McGahee handled the dirty work in short-yardage and goal line situations last season, and if Rice has to take over more of those duties, nobody can predict how long he would stay healthy. Also coming into play here would be the increased amount of touches Le’Ron McClain would take. As a fullback, he takes a huge beating trying to lead block for his halfbacks against massive 350-pound linemen and 280-pound linebackers. Add in more constant touches, where he gets tackled by the same guys on the plays he doesn’t block in, and McClain is looking at a world of hurt. It’s not that he can’t deal with a bit of it, but every player has their limits, and after a season without being a feature back, “Bring The Pain” McClain might not be able to adjust back to the ways of dealing with getting tackled often.

God forbid that Rice or McClain get injured, but if that happens, who’s there to replace them? Jalen Parmele? Seriously, you’re saying that Jalen Parmele is as good as Willis McGahee? In the NFL, a proven track record is the most important thing a player can have. McGahee’s is a bit shoddy, with a nice bunch of injuries on his resume’, but he’s proven that when he’s healthy, he’s a reliable back. Parmele on the other hand, has done none of the sort. Argue all you want that he hasn’t gotten a chance yet or that he can’t prove himself without getting a lot of game time, but just know that you’re wrong while you argue it. If Parmele impressed the coaches enough, I don’t think anyone can argue that they would’ve given him tons of carries in the game without hesitation. There’s a reason he’s third-string and a reason why he’s not a guy the Ravens go to often, and that should be pretty obvious to those who have actually seen him play.

I’ll be one of the first people to tell you that the Ravens need a cornerback. Fabian Washington as the #1 all season isn’t an ideal situation. It could be worse, but it could also be so much better. With Lardarius Webb expected to be ready to play in the season opener and with reports saying that Ed Reed is recovering faster than expected, things aren’t as dreadful as we once thought. Young guys are stepping up, and Washington is turning into a leader of the group, along with Chris Carr.  With all that said however, we’re still looking at one of the weakest cornerback groups in the NFL, and that needs to change. Free agency is an option, trying to have a safety like Ken Hamlin or Tom Zbikowski play a bit at the position is an option, even trading Parmele for a less heralded cornerback is an option, but in my book, Willis McGahee is more valuable than an Andre Goodman-type cornerback. The presence he brings to the offense and the depth he provides at the running back position are invaluable, and without them, the Ravens would probably get into some trouble down the road.

I hope I’ve made my message clear. Adding a cornerback would be awesome, but trading Willis McGahee for that cornerback wouldn’t be. Trade Jalen Parmele, trade the loser of the Zbikowski/Hamlin battle, or trade a defensive lineman for all I care, but losing McGahee would be a big blow for the Ravens. After a training camp where they’ve lost some key players, trading another one wouldn’t be such a great idea.