Will a No. 1 Wide Receiver Even Hit the Free Agent Market?
The notion that the Ravens should add a "true No. 1 receiver" has been debated again this offseason. Before having that conversation, it's fair to wonder if one will even be available.
ESPN asked its NFL Nation reporters to identify the players on their teams that are most likely to receive the franchise tag and predict whether they'll be tagged.
Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, and Kenny Golladay, the top three receivers set to hit the free agent market, all were predicted to be tagged. Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter Jenna Laine said Godwin could be tagged with the hopes of a long-term extension.
"Right now, Baltimore's starting offense is comprised of homegrown players with nine draft picks and two players originally signed as undrafted rookies," Jamison Hensley wrote. "This is a reflection of the strong drafts by [Eric] DeCosta and former general manager Ozzie Newsome, but this shouldn't overshadow the need to address offense in free agency.
"It's tantalizing to think how much Jackson would improve if paired with a free-agent prize like Robinson or Golladay. But DeCosta tempered expectations when he said it's not all about getting a No. 1 wide receiver. Pro Football Focus predicted Baltimore would sign second-tier receivers Sammy Watkins and A.J. Green. Whatever the move, the Ravens know they need to do more than they did last year, when their biggest veteran signing at wide receiver was [Dez] Bryant."
NFL.com’s Adam Schein reiterated the stance on Robinson, naming him as a player the Chicago Bears can't let hit the market.
"General manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are sitting on scorching-hot seats," Schein wrote. "They can't afford to let Robinson go. So, while I'd personally love to see the 27-year-old wideout sign a long-term deal with a team where he can truly shine, I imagine the Bears will indeed slap him with the franchise tag out of necessity."
On the other hand, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski said earlier this month that an ideal trade scenario for the Ravens would be acquiring Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen.
"Maybe Baltimore won't address the position in free agency or the draft," Sobleski wrote. "But DeCosta couldn't overlook a wide receiver the caliber of Thielen.
"With Lamar Jackson still under his rookie contract, the time is right to add a high-quality option to help the quarterback realize his full potential. It doesn't hurt that Thielen would be a perfect fit since he comes from another run-first offense."
Dez Bryant Wants to Keep Playing, But Not With the Ravens
No matter what the Ravens do in free agency, the wide receiver core will look different next season.
One player not expected to return is Dez Bryant, who tweeted on Tuesday that he would like to continue playing, but not with the Ravens.
"I realized quick Baltimore wasn't the place for me," Bryant said. "No bad blood. That's their way of doing things so you gotta respect it.
"... It's hard. I've been off almost three years. I flashed my abilities to the point [Ravens coach John] Harbaugh asked was I ready to play because he thought I was ready …You have to learn the playbook …chemistry with the QB have to be on point."
The Ravens signed Bryant to their practice squad in October. The veteran receiver hadn't appeared in an NFL game since December of 2017, but finished with six receptions for 47 yards and two touchdowns.
Bryant made it clear there's no ill will towards the Ravens. He called Baltimore a first-class organization and thanked them for the opportunity.
Bryant and Willie Snead IV are set to become unrestricted free agents this offseason. The Ravens are expected to have a young core of talent led by Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche II.
Son of Former Raven Would Love to Play in Baltimore
West Virginia defensive tackle Darius Stills remembers meeting Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs.
Now the son of former Ravens linebacker Gary Stills is preparing for his chance to play in the NFL and would love to play in Baltimore.
"That would be amazing," Stills told Glenn Clark Radio. "But hopefully everything goes the way it is supposed to go."
In nine games for West Virginia last season, Stills totaled 25 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.
"It is that family mentality that Stills now carries with him going into the NFL," Press Box’s Sean Mahoney wrote. "Stills is the draft's No. 118 overall prospect and No. 8 interior defensive lineman, according to The Draft Network. Stills says his dad played a huge part in developing his game, and the opportunity to give back to his parents is driving him as he transitions to the pros."
"It's insane because growing up, talking about the moments [we've now lived through] and just being able to experience that, it's very unique and I can't really describe the feeling," Stills said. "It's just amazing."
John Harbaugh Picks Up the Dinner Tab
If you ate at Jimmy's Seafood last night, your tab might have been picked up by John Harbaugh.
The Ravens head coach picked up the bill for seven families dining at the restaurant. Harbaugh told ESPN it was his wife Ingrid's idea.
"The winningest NFL coach in Baltimore football history, Harbaugh went to the popular seafood restaurant for a charity fundraiser," Hensley added. "He took photos with every fan who asked him as well as the restaurant staff."
- "Honestly, though, at age 24 with two Pro Bowl bids to his name, Orlando] Brown is one of those guys that everybody in the league should be kicking the tires on,” [NFL.com’s Adam Rank wrote.