Ravens Reportedly Bringing in DeSean Jackson for a Visit
During a recent podcast appearance, veteran free-agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson made it clear that he is not retired. When he was asked to name a few teams he would want to play for, the Ravens were one of them.
Apparently, the interest is mutual. Jackson is reportedly scheduled to visit the Ravens, who have a need for depth at wide receiver, today.
"I like Lamar Jackson's game right now. Baltimore. Jackson and Jackson," the three-time Pro Bowler said on the "I Am Athlete" podcast. He also named the Philadelphia Eagles, a team he spent eight seasons with over two stints, and Green Bay Packers as teams on his wish list.
Jackson, who turns 36 on Dec. 1, was one of the NFL's all-time best deep threats in his prime. He has played for five teams in the past six seasons. In 16 games last year with the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Rams, Jackson had 20 receptions for 454 yards, two touchdowns and a career-high 22.7 yards per catch.
Jackson's most recent productive season was in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he recorded 41 catches for 774 yards, four touchdowns and a league-leading 18.9 yards per catch in 12 games.
"Establishing more consistency at wide receiver could lead to more consistency in the win-loss column, Bleacher Report’s Scott Polacek wrote of the 3-3 Ravens, "and Jackson would provide proven depth even if he is no longer the same Pro Bowl game-changer he once was in the past."
After the Ravens traded former first-round pick Marquise "Hollywood" Brown in April and did not draft a wide receiver, it was widely believed they would sign a veteran, but team officials committed to their corps of young wide receivers.
Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, Tylan Wallace, James Proche II, and Demarcus Robinson (who was signed in August after he was released by the Raiders) have combined for 41 catches for 580 yards and six touchdowns.
It hasn't helped that Bateman, the Ravens' No .1 wide receiver, has been sidelined the past two games with a sprained foot. Head Coach John Harbaugh said yesterday that Bateman is “close” to getting back on the field.
In Bateman's absence, Baltimore wide receivers have 12 catches for 122 yards, including just five catches for 45 yards in Sunday's 24-20 loss to the New York Giants.
Duvernay has emerged, but he contributed just one catch for 14 yards against the Giants. All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews has been the top target for Jackson.
"It's been clear for two weeks now that Jackson and the Ravens miss Bateman badly, and General Manager Eric DeCosta's decision not to add a legitimate veteran receiver this offseason has hurt the team," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote.
Last week, the Ravens signed wide receiver Andy Isabella, a second-round pick by Arizona in 2019, to their practice squad after he was released by the Cardinals.
NFL.com Writer Says Ravens Have Been a Disappointment, But They're Still Legitimate Contenders
There's no denying the Ravens' .500 record is unsatisfactory given the abundance of talent on the roster. As Harbaugh said after reviewing the tape from Sunday's game, it's clear what the team is capable of achieving.
NFL.com.com’s Jeff Chadiha expressed a similar sentiment. In sorting the contenders and pretenders in the AFC, where 10 of the 16 teams have a record of 3-3 or better, he placed the Ravens in the "disappointments" category along with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. However, of those three teams, only the Ravens are legitimate contenders in Chadiha's opinion.
"The Ravens were planning on their defense being improved after going through most of last year with an injury-riddled unit. So much for that hope. Baltimore is 20th in the NFL in points allowed and 28th in passing defense," Chadiha wrote. "They've also lost two games after holding 17-point leads. They've still got Lamar Jackson and an excellent coaching staff on their side, and they're in the underwhelming AFC North. But right now, they're testing the limits of everyone's faith."
Chadiha ranked the Cincinnati Bengals (3-3) as the fourth-best team in the conference and placed them in the "Safe Bets" category. The Ravens and Bengals are tied for first place in the AFC North, but Baltimore currently holds the tiebreaker by virtue of their head-to-head win in Week 5.
Malik Harrison 'Has Been Playing Rock-Solid Football'
Linebacker Malik Harrison has quietly emerged as a versatile and dependable contributor this season. The 2020 third-rounder's performance against the Giants was a prime example, as he received an 81.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, the third-highest mark on the team.
"Malik Harrison continued to show his versatility playing three different linebacker spots and recording five tackles — one of them for a loss — in a season-high 36 snaps," Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones wrote. " He's been playing some rock-solid football over the last couple weeks."
When asked about Harrison yesterday, Harbaugh said:
"He played SAM, he played MIKE, and he played DIME — the DIME-backer — and did a really good job on all three areas. I can remember one play that I'm going to probably say something to him about, and the rest of it, he was excellent. So, it was a good step. He's been up most of the season. He's had a couple [down] games, but most of the season he's played really well, and a guy like that continues to merit more playing time."