As the NFL trade deadline approaches, the Baltimore Ravens find themselves in a very unenviable position. They have only just figured out that key defensive players Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis will not play for the rest of the season.
These losses are huge as both players were potential Pro Bowlers as well as leaders on the defense. Yet the defense has struggled mightily against both the pass and the run even with both players in the lineup. Now that they are gone, it's possible that the bad times are only just beginning for the Baltimore defense.
This is where the trade deadline comes in. The two aforementioned injuries, as well as injuries to Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, leave the Ravens' depth chart very suspect at key positions.
So, could Ozzie Newsome work some magic and bring another defensive player to Baltimore? It's possible even though the simple fact is most NFL teams do not do anything during the trade deadline.
Maybe the extenuating circumstances regarding the Ravens injury situation will force them to make a move. Or maybe the Ravens will decide to cut ties with overused players in an attempt to get draft picks.
If the Ravens decide to make a move, here are some of the potential moves that the team could make before the deadline ends two weeks from now.
Although he used to be the Ravens starter at left tackle, those days appear to be long done for Bryant McKinnie. He is now stuck as a backup behind Michael Oher, and although Oher has struggled, it seems that his starting position is still safe.
Now, injuries could always press McKinnie into service, but at this point it would likely be ideal if the Ravens did not have to rely on him as a starter. McKinnie is 33 years old and his best days as a player are probably behind him.
Financially, the Ravens could stand to get out of their current contract with McKinnie. His restructured contract stands at $2 million but if he plays in 50 percent of the offensive snaps, he could pick up a $1 million incentive clause.
Perhaps the most obvious place for McKinnie to go to would be the Arizona Cardinals. Their dreadful offensive line has seen both starting quarterbacks and two running backs suffer serious injuries.
As a Cardinal, McKinnie would almost certainly overtake D'Anthony Batiste as the Cardinals starting left tackle. He would provide experience for the line while also protecting John Skelton's blind side.
This move may sound like a crazy one given the current state of the Ravens' linebackers. However, I think that after four years of not producing in the NFL and as a pending free agent next season, it might be time for the Ravens to cut ties with Kruger.
Kruger has mostly played as a backup during his time in Baltimore and has never eclipsed15 tackles in a season. This season, Kruger was supposed to step up and attempt to hold the fort down while Terrell Suggs missed several months because of his Achilles injury.
Through six games, that has not been the case. Kruger has started just one and he's only notched 1.5 sacks. He's been injured, and so far, he's not provided the pass rush that the Ravens had expected from him.
Suggs should be returning soon, while both Courtney Upshaw and Albert McClellan are capable of starting until then. Meanwhile, the Ravens can try to get some value from Kruger, like a fifth or sixth round draft pick, before he would hit free agency next season.
The Packers are dealing with injuries at the linebacker position while the Raiders linebackers simply aren't very good. Both places would be a good place for Kruger to reignite his career and he could potentially start on both teams.
The Ray Lewis injury has forced the Ravens to put some unfamiliar faces in at middle linebacker. For now the starters look to be Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain. Though both men are good players, both of them were undrafted and are clear drop-offs in talent from Lewis.
The Ravens really need another inside linebacker, if only to serve as insurance should Ellerbe or McClain get hurt. And if either player struggles, perhaps they could even get someone who could start a few games.
A good trade partner in this scenario would be the Detroit Lions. They have an abundance of linebackers on their roster with seven players currently under contract.
The player who is likely the odd man out is Ashlee Palmer. Palmer went undrafted in 2009, so the Lions do not have as much money wrapped up in him. He's made 87 tackles in his career with one sack.
For the most part, it would seem that Palmer would be good for depth. He's only started five games for the Lions, with all of his starts coming during the 2010 season. There's also the possibility of untapped potential since Palmer is largely unproven during his four years in the NFL.
Although he's planning on playing this Sunday against the Houston Texans, Haloti Ngata is dealing with minor MCL damage in his right knee. Both this injury and a shoulder injury caused him to miss a little time last week, although he still managed to return and record the team's only sack of the day.
Ngata is also currently the sack leader for the Ravens with three and is also hands down the best player on the Ravens defensive line. Unfortunately, this is as much praise for Ngata as it is indictment for disappointing players like Arthur Jones and Maake Kemoeatu.
The other defensive linemen besides Ngata have totaled 0.5 sacks and have clearly lost the battle at the line of scrimmage. They are some of the main culprits for the awful run defense over the past two weeks.
With Ngata not 100 percent and the line still clearly a weakness, the Ravens could use another contributor. One player that comes to mind is Darryl Tapp from the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles are stacked at their defensive line with players like Jason Babin and Trent Cole manning the defensive end position. Tapp is trapped behind Cole at right defensive end, and although he's seeing some playing time, Tapp isn't doing too much with it. He has merely seven tackles with 0.5 sacks.
At 28 years old, Tapp might still have something left in the tank. He's had several decent seasons, including the 2007 season with the Seattle Seahawks where he had 49 tackles and seven sacks.
The Ravens would not be bringing in Tapp as a starter, but he could certainly help as a situational specialist who rotates in to keep Pernell McPhee fresh.
The Ravens secondary has been struck with a major blow with Lardarius Webb's season-ending ACL injury. It's the second such injury for Webb in four years and it certainly brings down the quality of the Ravens secondary, where Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams will now be starting.
The Ravens have reason to be doubtful about either cornerback being a consistent starter this season. Therefore it might not be a bad move to go and get a high-profile corner who might even potentially start.
Mike Jenkins from the Dallas Cowboys could fill that role. He's no longer starting for the Cowboys, who have quietly put together the top passing defense in the NFL. Jenkins has been stuck behind Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr on the depth chart and he's done very little this season with only two tackles on the season.
While Jenkins has good athleticism, he's been known for getting burned a lot. That is the biggest problem that would keep him from starting, but maybe a change of scenery could help him out.
With at least one interception every year of his career and a Pro Bowl appearance under his belt, Jenkins could be an intriguing pickup for the Ravens.