I wish I could provide you a stronger "hot take" regarding the Ravens not making another trade before this year's deadline. It would sure as hell make for a better column if I genuinely felt like the Ravens did the right thing by choosing not to pay a premium for pass rush help or if I thought they truly failed themselves by standing pat.
But I don't feel either of those things. Which is presumably the reason why we're having this conversation.
If it's hot takes you're here for, the best I can give you is more like "the center of the hot pocket after the second time you run it through the microwave and then have to let it cool because the rest of it is so damn hot it's inedible." My most significant take is that if the Ravens don't win the Super Bowl this season, it will most directly happen because of their total lack of a consistent pass rush.
Even still, I'm not willing to extrapolate that take further and condemn them for not making a bold move. The arguments against were both reasonable and significant. Multiple league sources told me that, indeed, there was a supply-and-demand issue regarding the pass rush market. There just weren't enough good ones who were ever truly available, meaning the cost would have been an extraordinary price for a real talent or an unreasonable price for a lesser player.
Considering the Ravens' current salary-cap issues (extending Willie Snead alone wasn't enough to clear the space necessary to even consider certain rushers), making a move might have been even more difficult. And then there's the argument about when the team's "window" truly is. With Lamar Jackson not due a contract for another three years (although if he continues to pan out there is always the possibility Ravens fans don't want to consider that he'll try to force the issue a year earlier) and Joe Flacco's dead money coming off the cap until next year, there is a non-zero amount of credence to the idea that draft capital remains a little more valuable to this organization than even an immediate on-field contributor.
Yet there is also something to be said for the idea that perhaps the AFC is so wide open this year (particularly so if somehow the Ravens beat the Patriots Nov. 3) that perhaps whatever plans the Ravens had for their "window" coming into this season should have been thrown away. Even when Patrick Mahomes returns, the Chiefs have shown themselves to be vulnerable. The Patriots have been outstanding defensively but still have questions to answer as their schedule gets more difficult. The Texans won't be quite as good without J.J. Watt. The Colts have been very good, but there's reason to wonder how Jacoby Brissett will handle the pressure of playing in big games for the first time in his career. The Steelers and the Browns aren't any good at all, and the Bills were rather significantly exposed by the Eagles.
If your argument is that the Ravens should have thrown caution to the wind and made a huge move for the sake of being "all in" on this season because of the opportunity in front of them, I can't tell you that you're wrong. We can knock on all of the wood we want, but there is, of course, a possibility that five years down the road we'll look back on this season as the team's best chance at winning a Super Bowl ... if they had just acquired a pass rusher.
But the conversation doesn't end there. The Texans are a perfect example of the potential perils of such a strategy. They went "all in" and traded away three first- and second-round picks the next two years to acquire tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills. And while Watt's injury doesn't necessarily ruin their chances of hoisting Lombardi, it severely hampers them.
And then there's the possibility that perhaps the Ravens didn't need to make a move because they're good enough to compete for a Super Bowl even without an upgraded pass rush. That seems outlandish (particularly considering the loss of Pernell McPhee), but they are coming off a stellar defensive performance against then-would-be MVP Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
They've clearly decided to embrace the analytics-driven concept that defenses are better built via secondary than rush. That was even more so apparent with reports that it wasn't even a rusher they were even trying to land at the deadline but instead Jets safety Jamal Adams. And their secondary is slated to get a boost anyway, as
Jimmy Smith is set to return
against the Patriots.
So if the Ravens can maintain a dominant rushing attack, keep their defense on the field a little less, perhaps get more interior rush (Brandon Williams played his game of the season in Seattle) and make bigger plays via the secondary, maybe they won't rue their inability to land rush help at the deadline at all.
And if they give up five passing touchdowns to Tom Brady in a loss Sunday night, please see to it to just set fire to this entire piece of the internet by Monday morning.