The Baltimore Ravens need an edge rusher. With the Minnesota Vikings potentially being a trade partner for Orlando Brown Jr., could Danielle Hunter become a Raven?
The Ravens have permitted Orlando Brown Jr. to look for a trade, and NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo recently reported that six teams are showing interest in the Oklahoma product. For as good as Brown has been in a Ravens uniform, I’ve already made the case that he should be dealt if the team receives an offer to their liking.
And while we don’t know who has called Eric DeCosta about his Pro Bowl tackle, our Billy Kosko has taken a look at some different trade possibilities if Brown is ultimately dealt.
One prospective trade partner Kosko mentions is the Minnesota Vikings. In this scenario, receiver Adam Thielen would be the center of a trade package that could also include draft picks or see the Ravens move up from 27th to 14th overall in the first round.
This would be a strong get for Baltimore, as Thielen would give Lamar Jackson the top target he desperately needs. But the Ravens also need to find a few edge rushers this offseason, and two-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter was on Twitter last week liking posts linking him to possible trades. Could he be the centerpiece of a Brown deal instead?
None of the tweets mentioned the Ravens, and Hunter likings the tweets in no way should be taken as a sign that the Tennessee product is close to being dealt at the moment. But if he is looking to force his way out of Minnesota, the stars could align perfectly for him to come to Baltimore as part of a deal for Brown.
Hunter is rumored to be seeking a pay raise, which is currently complicated by the fact he’s coming off a neck injury. While that’s not exactly ideal, those two factors could allow the Ravens to gamble on getting a true star pass rusher for below market value, take 2021 to see if he’s truly recovered, then revisit the contract situation next offseason.
Hunter is just 26 years old, has three team-friendly years remaining on his contract, and has three seasons of at least 12.5 sacks in his first five seasons in the NFL (he missed all of 2020 recovering from surgery on a herniated disk). If he can return to his pre-injury self, Hunter would be the best pass rusher to put on the purple and black since Terrell Suggs, and the Baltimore defense wouldn’t miss a beat in 2021 despite losing Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon.
While there are plenty of veteran edge rushers available in free agency and should be quality options available in the draft, none offer the history of production that Hunter does.
And while the neck injury is not something to ignore, a deal wouldn’t happen unless Hunter was cleared by the Ravens medical staff, so it’s not as if they’d be taking a major uncalculated risk to facilitate a deal.
Many are hoping the Ravens add a true top receiving target through a Brown trade (either through a player acquisition or receiving a high enough draft pick to take a top prospect), but bolstering the receiving corps will cost dramatically less than finding a true impact pass rusher.
Baltimore can be successful without a true star wideout, but the defense will be hurting if Don Martindale is constantly having to send five, six, or even seven rushers to generate pressure, and getting into shootouts is not the way the Ravens roll (even if they’ve been part of a few fun ones).
It’s not every day that a pass rusher in his prime is potentially available, and Baltimore should pounce if they have the opportunity.