You may recall a short while ago that there was some speculation regarding a rumor that the Baltimore Ravens are open to moving fourth-year defensive end Timmy Jernigan, who was a second-round pick for the AFC North runners-up during the 2014 NFL Draft. While the notion might seem a bit odd, there is some logic to it.
For one thing, the Ravens have now committed significant money along the defensive line to Brandon Williams at nose tackle, and they are virtually out of usable cap space that is not already earmarked for predictable needs later on in the offseason.
Baltimore is in the same position as the Steelers are with Stephon Tuitt, who was taken in the same round in the same class. Both Tuitt and Jernigan are entering the final year of their rookie contract and are slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2018.
Where the two parties differ is that Pittsburgh is likely to work out a long-term extension with Tuitt later this summer that will keep him with the team for an extended period of time. Jernigan right now is ticketed for free agency in a year’s time. If the Ravens are not overly enamored with him, and perhaps may not even have the resources to re-sign him and still accomplish other objectives, then the time to recoup value out of him would be now.
The draft is coming up in a few weeks, so if a trade is to happen, it will probably happen by then or during the draft itself. The Ravens already have a number of picks courtesy of the compensatory formula, but they have always coveted more. They had five picks in the fourth round a year ago, three of whom essentially became starters.
Jernigan was relatively productive last season, and has been generally consistent. He recorded 31 tackles in 2016 while starting a career-high 15 games and recorded five sacks, intercepting a pass and recording three pass deflections.
On paper, that all sound pretty good, but that is not the full story. There were times, particularly late in the season, when the Ravens took Jernigan off the field and replaced him with rookie defensive tackle Michael Pierce instead. Pierce recorded 35 tackles and two sacks with a pass defensed.
In addition to Pierce, Baltimore added defensive end Bronson Kaufusi in the third round and defensive tackle Willie Henry in the fourth round, though neither of them contributed significantly. Carl Davis is also returning as a former third-round pick in the 2015 draft.
In other words, there are a lot of young players in the pipeline, and it would appear that the team may not be entirely convinced that Jernigan would be worth the major dollars it would take to sign him to an extension. Tuitt is somebody the Steelers would never take off the field, in contrast. And Jernigan wasn’t happy about it, either.