While the Ravens could still add a veteran wide receiver, General Manager Eric DeCosta expressed confidence that the Ravens' young receivers will blossom in 2022.
The trade that sent Marquise Brown to the Cardinals means the Ravens are moving forward without their most productive wide receiver and top deep of the past three years. However, 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman is healthy and could be poised for a breakout season, while DeCosta believes James Proche II, Devin Duvernay, and Tylan Wallace are all ready for bigger roles.
"We see those guys every day in the building, right?," DeCosta said on “The Lounge” podcast. "We see James. A lot of times James is uncoverable. We see Devin, we see the speed and toughness and the contact balance and hands. We saw Tylan this year on special teams and then when he had a chance to make a play, he made a big play. Tylan was a guy that, before his injury, probably would have been a second-round pick. So we're excited about those guys."
However, the Ravens will continue to explore options after trading Brown. Some of the top veteran free agent wide receivers remaining on the market include Odell Beckham Jr., Will Fuller V, T.Y. Hilton, Julio Jones and Jarvis Landry.
"It's not much different from the draft. If what we ascribe as the value of the player, if that value is such that we can get a really good player at a discount right now, we'll consider that – knowing that whatever we spend right now we won't have during the regular season," DeCosta said, citing the need to have a "nest egg" of salary-cap space in case he wants to make a mid-season trade.
"There are players out there right now that could help our team, but it's got to make sense for us and it's got to make sense for them. If you get that match, then there's a good chance that the deal is going to get done."
Some were surprised the Ravens didn't draft at least one wide receiver with their 11 draft picks. DeCosta said it wasn't for lack of trying. He told "The Lounge" that there was a specific wide receiver he would have taken at No. 14 had he slipped that far. DeCosta also wanted to draft Memphis speedster Calvin Austin III in the fourth round but the Steelers grabbed him on spot ahead of Baltimore.
"You're always going to have needs," DeCosta said. "There's not a team in professional sports, any team, that doesn't truly have a weak position or need. That's the nature of this business. You could have a star player, he gets hurt, and it becomes a need. Every year, the team that wins the Super Bowl has a weak position. We're aware of that. In a salary-cap sport, it's very tough to build a team that doesn't have a need.
"That's not an excuse because we don't want to have any weaknesses or have any needs. But we're right where we need to be at this time, we will continue to augment the roster and build it the best we can. But I will caution, we want to be good this year, but we also want to be good five years from now and 10 years from now. We've got to be aware of that, too."