The Ravens’ offseason makeover of their defensive line continued March 20, as the Ravens traded defensive end Chris Wormley to the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers in a deal that also involved 2021 draft picks.
As first reported by NFL Network, the Ravens will send Wormley and a 2021 seventh-round draft pick to the Steelers in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round draft pick. The Ravens announced the deal later in the day.
Wormley, who turns 27 in October, set career highs this past year with 33 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He started seven games and averaged 28 defensive snaps a game.
But with the addition of Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell, acquired in a trade this week, with the signing of free-agent defensive lineman Michael Brockers, and with the re-signing of defensive end Jihad Ward, whose one-year deal was also announced March 20, Wormley’s status in the defensive rotation appeared to be tenuous at best.
The trade frees up about $2.1 million in cap space.
Originally drafted in the third round out of Michigan in 2017, Wormley played in every game the past two years but never carved out a three-down role. He totaled 54 tackles, 2.5 sacks and seven passes defensed in 39 career games with the Ravens.
Wormley’s biggest play this past season game when he tipped a fourth-and-one pass from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter of a tie game. The Ravens took over on downs and proceeded to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.
The trade of Wormley adds to what has been a clear offseason agenda by general manager Eric DeCosta to focus on the defensive line.
In the first week of free agency, the Ravens dealt for Campbell and also reportedly agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with free agent defensive tackle Michael Brockers. (The team has yet to announce the deal because of delays with team physicals related to the coronavirus.) The Ravens also re-signed reserve defensive linemen Ward and Justin Ellis to one-year deals.
In addition to Wormley, the Ravens also lost defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who signed a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
Coming off a 14-2 season, with the reigning league Most Valuable Player in Lamar Jackson returning to lead the record-setting offense, the Ravens’ list of offseason priorities figured to revolve around the front seven on defense.
The Ravens placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Matthew Judon, and DeCosta clearly has focused a lot of energy on the defensive line after the Ravens struggled to stop the run in several games, including their divisional-round playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans. Derrick Henry rushed for 195 yards in that game and the Titans piled up 217 yards overall on the ground.
The Ravens ranked fifth overall against the run this year, allowing 93.4 yards a game, but that ranking was perhaps skewed because teams didn’t possess the ball much against the Ravens and were often playing from behind. A more pressing concern for DeCosta might have been the fact that the Ravens allowed 4.39 yards per carry, which ranked 21st in the league.
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