There have been recent rumblings about Baltimore listening to trade talks for defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan lately. Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed that teams are interested in him, but did not reveal whether the Ravens are interested in shipping him away.
Should the Ravens trade away their starting defensive tackle just because he is in a contract year? Absolutely not.
Jernigan has been a fan favorite ever since his second-round selection in a draft where he was considered top-20 talent. He’s also coming off his best year yet, making five sacks, a fumble recovery, and an interception.
He hasn’t broken out yet, though. Trading him away for a late-round pick now would be a mistake, when he could break out for Baltimore this season. If Baltimore can’t match his contract demands next season, they could get a better compensatory pick for him in 2019. I would take that over a 5th-rounder (hypothetically) in 2018.
He started off hot in 2016, recording four sacks in the first seven games, but fizzled over the last nine weeks. This season looked like it would be Jernigan’s breakout season, but he has showed inconsistency problems throughout his career.
Jernigan recorded one tackle in the final four weeks with Baltimore in good position to claim the AFC North crown. Players with inconsistency problems won’t be looking at a trade value over a late 4th-rounder at best.
Harbaugh believes this will be Jernigan’s best year yet, and I completely agree. Players perform in contract years (anyone remember Joe Flacco’s magical 2012 post season?). It could be that the timing is beneficial for contract years (after four years for draftees, three for undrafted players), meaning players who need development finally find their niche around year four. But, as everyone knows, money talks, and will bring out a player’s best season when it’s on the line.
Unless a team loves Jernigan’s potential, and is willing to part ways with a 2nd/early 3rd-rounder in this draft, moving him doesn’t make sense for this team right now.
The New England Patriots have become popular for this thinking lately. They traded star players Chandler Jones (Arizona Cardinals) and Jamie Collins (Cleveland Browns) for immediate returns rather than waiting. I could see Baltimore going this route, if Jernigan was as productive/well-known as those players.
But, Jernigan isn’t on the level of a Jones or Collins, yet. Wait until his deal expires to decide whether he is worth the money keeping, or the compensation in return.
Who knows, he could end up being a key contributor to magical season for Baltimore this year.