Report: Ravens will trade 2021 fifth-rounder Shaun Wade to New England

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On Thursday, something fairly rare went down in the NFL: a trade involving a rookie and one administered between conference rivals.

Reports indicate that the Baltimore Ravens are close to trading 2021 fifth-round pick Shaun Wade to the New England Patriots for future draft compensation.

The Ravens and Patriots have made two trades on draft weekend, in 2019 and 2020, respectively. But otherwise, the two AFC rivals have not been frequent trade partners, last making a deal before that in 2009.

Wade was the 160th overall pick this spring but entered last college season as a possible first-round pick. Projected as a possible top-40 selection in the 2020 NFL draft, Wade chose to return to Ohio State and prove he could play outside corner after primarily lining up in the nickel spot before.

It turned out to be a poor call. Wade struggled — especially in the national championship loss to Alabama — and slid drastically in this year's draft despite good pro day workouts.

The Patriots have been busy overhauling their roster this offseason following Bill Belichick's first losing season in 20 years. Following big moves in the draft and free agency, the Patriots swung a deal earlier this week, sending running back Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams.

Shaun Wade was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2021 but appears close to being traded already. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Shaun Wade was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2021 but appears close to being traded already. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Why are the Ravens giving up on Shaun Wade so quickly?

It's unusual for a team to trade a draft pick it made before that player ever suits up for the team. But it did happen last year when the Las Vegas Raiders sent third-rounder Lynn Bowden to the Miami Dolphins after it was clear that the Raiders' plan for Bowden wasn't going to work out.

Did the same thing happen with the Ravens? Wade was projected as a slot corner (or possible safety) before the draft, and that's where Baltimore was mostly using him, according to reports. 

But after he reportedly struggled in one-on-one matchups, Wade suddenly became expendable in what appears to be a deep secondary. It should be noted that Wade played well in two preseason games for the Ravens, including snagging an interception against the Saints, but often was going against second- and third-string offenses in his 35 defensive snaps.

Then again, New England is touted as having depth at DB, too. Is there some concern that Stephon Gilmore, who remains on the PUP list with a quad injury, isn't close to competing? Or are the Patriots just looking to add a talented player and figure out what to do with him later?

The Patriots have a similar type of player in Jalen Mills, capable of playing multiple spots. The same can be said for Myles Bryant. There's also a cutdown call to be made on 2019 second-rounder Joejuan Williams, who has been a disappointment to date. 

New England drafted only one DB in 2021 in Missouri safety Joshuah Bledsoe, a sixth-rounder, but Bledsoe has been stuck on PUP for much of the offseason.

However it shakes out, the Patriots have added a talented player with versatility. Can Wade stick in New England? If so, the Patriots might have landed a great value while other teams were napping.

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