The unexpected release of Eagles defensive end Jason Babin prompted the predictable questions of whether the Ravens should be interested, but this is a rare case when I won’t respond with an automatic no.
We often fall into the trap of assuming different players are automatically better, which is why I rarely react to in-season releases of players with the thought that the Ravens should be interested, but it’s impossible to look at Babin’s 2011 total of 18 sacks and not be intrigued. The Ravens have shown much defensive improvement in recent weeks, but you can never have too many pass rushers and Baltimore hasn’t been particularly strong in that department despite a season-high six sacks against San Diego last Sunday.
The 32-year-old Babin doesn’t come without baggage as he played in Philadelphia’s wide nine scheme and isn’t a fit as a defensive end in the Ravens’ base 3-4 scheme nor does he have the skill set to be an outside linebacker. He would strictly be used as a situational player, which may not sit well with a player viewed by some as being more concerned with stats than team success.
With the Eagles playing out a disastrous string with a 3-8 record, Babin has played poorly against the run and has accumulated only 5 1/2 sacks this season, which led to his unceremonious departure on Tuesday.
Even if the Ravens are satisfied that Babin’s head would be in the right state and he can still be productive, they’ll likely need to see if he passes through waivers to have any shot to bring him to Baltimore. For starters, they’re 30th in waiver order and teams are constantly looking for pass-rush help, meaning Babin will be attractive to many suitors who might have the financial flexibility to absorb his current salary. And even if he would somehow make it to the Ravens on the priority list, the reported $1.6 million he’s owed for the rest of the season would be difficult to fit underneath their salary cap without purging the cost of another veteran player.
If Babin clears waivers Wednesday afternoon, general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens would be interested to see where Babin’s head is in terms of a role and financial expectations. If he’s willing to accept a lower salary for the remainder of the season with the selling point of escaping Philadelphia and joining an energized 9-2 team as a part-time defensive player, then Babin makes plenty of sense.
It’s unlikely that Babin passes through waivers — making all of this a moot point — but the proper understanding and price tag would make him an interesting addition to a defense still looking for a more consistent bite in getting after the quarterback.