John Harbaugh Would Like to Add a Big, Physical Wide Receiver, But He Isn't Begging

012021-Receivers

The Ravens' 2020 season is less than a week old and fans and pundits are already banging the drum for Baltimore to add a big-time wide receiver.

Fans' search for the next "Anquan Boldin" – a big-bodied, physical possession receiver – has been going on since Boldin helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII eight years ago.

You can count Head Coach John Harbaugh among those that would like one too. But at what cost?

"If we can bring an 'Anquan Boldin' in here, let's do it. Let's do it!" Harbaugh said. "Now, can we afford it and move the resources from other things that we need? That's the details that we have to figure out.

"I think a big, physical receiver would be awesome for us – a big target for Lamar [Jackson]. It could be another tight end too. Or a speed guy that could open coverage up would be valuable too. We could use anybody that's good, but the definition of the guy that you talked about is, I think, definitely something we would love to add if we could."

Marquise Brown's sophomore season, and especially the way he ended it, gives Baltimore good reason to believe he's a star in the making. Brown caught 58 passes for 769 yards and eight touchdowns – all improvements on his rookie year. He and tight end Mark Andrews are the Ravens' clear top two targets.

Now the Ravens need somebody else to step up and challenge defenses more in the passing game. Not only would it help Jackson take the next step in his maturation, but would also help the other receivers.

On the Ravens' brutal pick-six in Buffalo, for example, Bills cornerback Taron Johnson was sitting on Jackson's red-zone pass to Andrews and jumped underneath to make the decisive play. It was like he and the Bills knew Jackson would look for Andrews, and they capitalized.

But the Ravens have a lot to figure out this offseason when it comes to deciding how to address the receiving corps.

First of all, they have to evaluate their current players. The Ravens have double-dipped at wide receiver in each of the last two NFL drafts to establish a young receiver corps that could grow with Jackson. What roles do they envision for Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche II moving forward?

Second, even if the Ravens do want to sign a veteran, do they want to commit enough salary-cap space to make a splash when they also have excellent young players, such as Jackson, Andrews, Orlando Brown Jr., Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and others, waiting for their paydays? This year, with a shrinking salary cap, it seems unlikely that Baltimore could take care of its own and add a big-money receiver.

Plus, is wide receiver even the position that would be best served committing substantial money to? The Ravens threw the ball the fewest times in the NFL. A premier weapon on the outside may change that, but, with such a dominant rushing attack and offense that scored the seventh-most points in the NFL this season, is that the right formula?

"How does that value compare to other spots in the offense and other spots on the team?" Harbaugh said. "It really comes down to who you can get and what they're going to cost, in the end. And who wants to be here."

Pending Chicago Bears unrestricted free agent Allen Robinson is the player Ravens pundits are talking most about right now. He's 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and has averaged 100 catches and just under 1,200 yards the past two seasons.

But the same pundits have questions about whether an unrestricted free agent such as Robinson would want to come to Baltimore because the Ravens don't throw the ball that much. For what it's worth, Robinson recently "liked" a writer's suggestion that Baltimore should hand him a blank check to cure all their offensive ills.

"I'm not going to even worry about convincing anybody to do something. I'm not going to beg anybody to be here," Harbaugh said.

"I'm not a college coach, I don't have to recruit anybody. If you want to win, if you want to be part of a good organization and you want to be part of a team and love coming to work every single day, if you love football and want to play in the AFC North, then come here. If you don't, if you're all about stats and numbers and your stat line and how many balls you catch … If that's all you care for, then there's a lot of other teams you can play for and I look forward to lining up against you."

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