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Late for Work: Pundit Considers Brandon Stephens Next in Line for Contract Extension

CB Brandon Stephens
CB Brandon Stephens

Could Brandon Stephens Be in Line for a Contract Extension?

According to, the Ravens have the least amount of cap space in the NFL with $5.9 million. But The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec has a possible solution that benefits the Ravens in freeing up space and locking up one of their budding, home-grown stars in cornerback Brandon Stephens.

"The Raven with the most to gain in his walk year is cornerback Brandon Stephens," Zrebiec wrote. "He's the type of player the Ravens usually work to keep. There was plenty of talk that Baltimore reached when it selected Stephens, a converted college running back, in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Yet, he established himself as a defensive contributor and a solid special teams player in his rookie season. Last year, he was thrust into a starting cornerback role and was one of the most consistent performers on arguably the league's best defense."

Zrebiec laid out all the reasons the Ravens may like to keep Stephens, and it's a long list.

"He's just 26 years old. He plays a premium position and offers versatility. He can play outside, in the slot and can line up at safety," Zrebiec wrote. "He's a solid special teams player. He's been durable, missing just three regular-season games over three seasons. He's a highly respected player in the locker room because of how he quietly goes about his business.

"If the Ravens believe last season was the start of Stephens' ascent and he's primed to get better, this is a pretty easy decision for a team that hasn't hesitated in the recent past to spend on cornerbacks. Having Stephens signed long term and Wiggins and Tampa in the fold would give Baltimore some flexibility next offseason if Marlon Humphrey doesn't bounce back in 2024 or his injury issues persist."

Zrebiec noted the Ravens may want him to play a second stellar season. So, too, could Stephens.

"However, if the Ravens are still unsure about how high Stephens' ceiling is, then it makes sense just to wait," Zrebiec wrote. "They simply don't have the cap margin of error with Lamar Jackson's contract growing by the year to make big-money mistakes when it comes to evaluating their players who are due second deals. Stephens and his agent David Mulugheta have every reason to be patient, too. In nine months, Stephens may hit a market that is very kind to quality cornerbacks. If he matches or exceeds his performance from last year, he'll be in an enviable position soon enough."

PFF Ranks Ravens Receiving Unit in Bottom Half of the NFL

Last season, the Ravens ranked No. 15 in PFF’s receiving corps rankings. In 2024, they're ranked lower on account of tight end Mark Andrews coming off an injury, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s departure, and wide receiver Rashod Bateman unable to break out yet, according to PFF’s Trevor Sikkema.

"Tight end Mark Andrews' injury in 2023 significantly lowered the ceiling of the Ravens' receiving group. Andrews, who comes in at No. 3 in PFF's tight end rankings ahead of the 2024 season, is joined in the tight end room by a good running mate in Isaiah Likely," Sikkema wrote.

But the critique isn't without optimism, as Sikkema expects Flowers to improve. There's also an expectation of the rest of the receiving corps to do so.

"Zay Flowers earned a 75.6 PFF overall grade as a rookie and should continue to be a big player, but Baltimore will need more from Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor to ascend this list," Sikkema wrote.

Many in the building have expressed confidence and optimism in Bateman. So has NFL Network's Brian Baldinger.

"He was hurt and injured much of his first two years, got much healthier last year, and just watching him practice, like this guy is a tremendous route-runner, he's got size, he hasn't lost any speed whatsoever," Baldinger said. "I expect him to be a big focal point of this passing game with Lamar this season."

Ravens Head Coach/Quarterback Duo Ranked No. 3 in the NFL

Since 2019, the Ravens have a 56-27 record, third-best in the NFL. At the forefront has been Head Coach John Harbaugh and Jackson. For Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton, that's good enough for the No. 3 spot on his list for best head coach, quarterback duos heading into 2024.

"At No. 3, the Baltimore Ravens' tandem has consistency in their favor," Moton wrote. "John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson have worked together for six seasons. In two of those campaigns, Jackson won league MVP."

Moton gave high praise for Jackson, noting his MVP production under both offensive coordinators Greg Roman and Todd Monken, who Moton said were excellent hires by Harbaugh.

The only thing holding Moton back from ranking them higher is the team's playoff record.

"Harbaugh's 2012 Super Bowl title aside, he still has the accolades, winning 2019 Coach of the Year and three AFC North titles, with Jackson to push this tandem to the No. 3 spot," Moton wrote. "Harbaugh and Jackson have struggled in the playoffs though, going 2-4 during their tenure. For that reason, they fall behind a couple of Super Bowl-winning duos.

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