Former GM Mike Tannenbaum: 'Without Question' Lamar Jackson Will Have His Best Season
When Lamar Jackson said last week that he wants to throw for 6,000 yards this season — something that's never been done — he was probably just caught up in the excitement of having an upgraded corps of wide receivers. His enthusiasm is understandable, though.
When Jackson was the unanimous league MVP in 2019, Ravens starting wide receivers Marquise Brown and Willie Snead combined for just 923 yards. With the offseason additions of former Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr., first-round pick Zay Flowers, and veteran Nelson Agholor, Jackson's ceiling in 2023 is through the roof, according to ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
"Without question," Tannebaum said when asked if Jackson will have the best season of his career. "This is by far his best group. And even if Odell Beckham Jr. is a 'B', Zay Flowers is an emerging rookie, and Nelson Agholor is a dependable veteran, that is hugely better than it's ever been. And we're not even talking about Rashod Bateman if he comes back from injury.
"That's why Lamar Jackson has been an MVP — he has done more with less. Now he can do more with more, and look out. I don't think 6,000 yards is in the question, but I do think another MVP-type season is certainly viable. And let's not forget Todd Monken is coming in as the new offensive coordinator as well. He's had a lot of success in that position."
On a side note, "Good Morning Football's" Jason McCourty named one person on every team he'll be rooting for this season, and his choice for the Ravens was Jackson.
"I was so happy to see Lamar and the Ravens finally get a deal done," McCourty wrote on NFL.com. "And it wasn't just any deal. The five-year, $260 million contract — which includes $185 million in total guarantees — made him the highest-paid player in the entire league by average annual salary ($52 million). His family is set for generations. Now, I think we all want him to go out there, stay healthy and help the Ravens seriously compete for a Lombardi."
Ravens Reportedly Considered Drafting Will Levis If Agreement With Jackson Wasn't Reached
Had the Ravens not reached an agreement with Jackson on a contract extension before the start of the draft, they would've considered taking Kentucky quarterback Will Levis with the 22nd-overall pick, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. Fowler said he believes this "after asking around."
Levis was projected to be a high first-round pick but he slid into the second round, where the Tennessee Titans selected him 33rd overall.
"Finalizing a deal for Jackson before Thursday night was prudent for Baltimore, which could implement the possibility of drafting a passer as leverage," Fowler wrote. "After the draft, leverage would shift to Jackson, potentially weakening the chance at a deal, because Baltimore's QB options would be scarce ... unless they selected one on Day 1 or 2. This is a moot point after Jackson and Baltimore agreed to terms on a five-year, $260 million extension a few hours before the draft kicked off. Had that not gone down, the QB option could have been tempting — and Levis was the best option at 22."
Ravens Named a Potential Fit for Kareem Hunt
Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger named one final offseason move each AFC team could make. For the Ravens, it's signing former Chiefs and Browns running back Kareem Hunt.
Spielberger noted that running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are entering contract years in 2023.
"Hunt had a poor 2022 season after requesting a trade, earning a career-low 67.0 grade, but provides a reliable check-down outlet for Lamar Jackson after securing 35 receptions last season compared to 43 total for Dobbins and Edwards over their collective careers," Spielberger wrote. "Hunt has stayed fresh with Nick Chubb handling the lion's share of early-down work in Cleveland over the past several years, and his 3.5 yards after contact per attempt in 2021 ranked tied for 11th among running backs. He'd add another dimension to this significantly upgraded Ravens offense."
I'd file the Ravens having interest in Hunt in the "highly unlikely" category considering the 27-year-old's off-the-field baggage.
Browns Soar Past Ravens in PFF's Power Rankings
The majority of the latest offseason power rankings have the Ravens ascending to No. 6 or No. 7, but PFF isn't as high on Baltimore. It dropped the Ravens one spot to No. 10.
Surprisingly, the Ravens are ranked behind the Browns, who made the biggest jump in the rankings, soaring 12 spots to No. 9.
"The Browns shored up their defense this offseason by adding safety Juan Thornhill, defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and edge Ogbonnia Okoronkwo," PFF's Amelia Probst and Arjun Menon wrote. "Drafting Siaki Ika, who posted a 76.4 PFF pass-rushing grade and an 11.6% pass-rush win rate in 2022, will morph their defense into a force to be reckoned with. Cleveland also added to its receiving corps by drafting Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman."
Mutual Interest Between Ravens and Free-Agent Safety Adrian Amos Reportedly Remains
Free-agent safety Adrian Amos reportedly visited the Ravens in late March and The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said it appears there is still mutual interest.
"Amos is a Baltimore native who grew up idolizing Ravens Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, so a homecoming to play on a high-quality defense would seemingly have some appeal," Zrebiec wrote. "However, Amos, who hasn't missed a start in five straight seasons and has only missed four games in his eight-year career, has other options, including a return to Green Bay."
The Ravens have a strong safety tandem in Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton, and they also have other depth needs and limited cap space. That said, the Ravens didn't draft a safety after trading Chuck Clark. Brandon Stephens will focus on playing safety, however, and could assume a hybrid role.
Amos would still be a valuable addition regardless.
"It would be easy to say the Ravens already have enough depth at safety, but adding Amos would allow them to use Hamilton more in matchup situations and in the slot," Zrebiec wrote. "In a way, it would be almost like adding another corner."
ACC Coaches Impressed by Trenton Simpson
The consensus among draft analysts is that the Ravens got great value — and possibly the steal of the draft — by selecting inside linebacker Trenton Simpson in the third round with the 86th-overall pick.
Two anonymous ACC coaches agreed with that assessment. One told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg that he was surprised the Clemson star wasn't selected earlier, and another said of Simpson: "Strong, very athletic, I thought he could run. He seemed very instinctive."
Simpson said at rookie minicamp last week that he wants to carry on the Ravens' linebacker lineage.
"I feel like that's why I was so emotional when I got drafted – because I'm coming to a place where [there have been] linebackers [and] legendary players here," Simpson said. "So, just seeing guys like Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen – guys like that – and being able to be in the locker room with two of those guys, it's a blessing. So, just getting up under them and working with them so I can live up to the standard is my goal."