Orlando Brown Jr.*'s Representatives Have Reportedly Begun Exploring Trade Possibilities*
One of the biggest offseason questions for the Ravens is whether the Ravens will trade Orlando Brown Jr., and it seems the next step has been taken.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Thursday that Brown's representatives have begun exploring trade possibilities as Brown eyes a full-time role at left tackle.
We've highlighted potential trade packages and destinations for the two-time Pro Bowler. Given his age, production and position, Brown is an extremely valuable talent for any team that's looking to solidify their quarterback protection and boost their run game.
Offensive line analyst Brandon Thron told The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer there's at least five to eight teams who will look to upgrade at left tackle.
We've also talked about the possibility that Brown could remain with the Ravens for the 2021 season. He still has one year left on his rookie contract, and The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said there's no reason for the Ravens to panic if they don't feel the compensation is right.
"What they shouldn't do is settle on a deal for Brown in fear that he'll be a distraction if he returns to the team as the right tackle," Zrebiec wrote. "Brown still doesn't have much leverage, and if his attitude and play are subpar this year, he'll only cost himself money. If he opts to sit out, he'll cost himself money and a shot at free agency next March. He should be plenty motivated even if he's back in a Ravens uniform playing a position he doesn't want to play.
"That being said, if the Ravens can get a first-round pick for Brown, they should strongly consider making that move. This draft has a handful of guys who project as Day 1 starting tackles, and with two first-round picks, the Ravens would be in position to find a younger and cheaper replacement. If the Ravens can get two Day 2 picks for Brown, including a relatively early second-rounder, that could also work."
Former New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins General Manager Randy Mueller echoed a similar sentiment on the Ravens' position.
"I've always developed the philosophy of let's keep as many good players as we can for as long as we can," Mueller told Glenn Clark Radio. "They have two really good young tackles. I don't think they should punish themselves for that.
"It's a tough spot, they've got to build it around [Jackson], the quarterback they've chosen. I think I would sleep a lot better knowing my two [offensive tackles] have been firmed up, even if I have to pay them excess money."
Is Malik Hooker a Free Agent Fit?
One under-the-radar position the Ravens could look to address this offseason is safety. Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott started all 16 games last season, but pundits believe adding more talent would be beneficial to the secondary.
The former No.15-overall pick in 2017 had his fifth-year option declined and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
"Coming out of Ohio State, he showed rare range as a free safety that could give a defense the ability to play single-high looks in almost any situation," Sikkema wrote. "The injury history is why he could be had at a bargain. If you can trust the health, this could be a good gamble."
Health has been the biggest hurdle to start Hooker's career. He was placed on injured reserve during his rookie season after suffering a knee injury, and played in just two games last season before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury.
But at 24 years old, Hooker could be a low-risk, high-reward signing for a team like the Ravens. He's shown flashes of being a ball-hawking free safety, and his addition could open up more schematic possibilities for Wink Martindale.
Platko noted that Hooker likely won't command a high price tag given his injury history. That's something to consider given teams are operating with less salary cap space than expected because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Hooker fits the profile of a natural free safety with range in coverage, which is something they don't exactly have on the roster as is," Platko added. "Adding Hooker into the mix would allow the Ravens to play more dime packages and utilize Clark and Elliott in more versatile roles. Relying on Hooker to be healthy seems like a risky proposition, but his talent and scheme fit makes him worth a flier."
The Ravens know you can never have too much depth in the secondary. Behind Clark and Elliott, Jordan Richards is the only other safety under contract on the active roster.
Still, switching starters would be somewhat surprising. Clark is an anchor of the defensive backfield, and in his first full season, Elliott showed his high potential.
A Top Receiver Named as Ravens' Dream Draft Target
With the draft less than two months away, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton identified one dream prospect for all 32 teams. For the Ravens, it was Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman.
"If Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta doesn't love the top available edge-rushers at the back end of the first round, he could land a big-bodied wide receiver to fill another need," Moton wrote. "Marquise Brown stretches the field with his speed, and tight end Mark Andrews has become Lamar Jackson's go-to target, but the Ravens still need a chain-mover on the perimeter. … At 6'2" and 210 pounds, Bateman uses size and his basketball background as advantages on the football field. He high-points the ball and battles for 50-50 catches. He also doesn't go down easily. According to Pro Football Focus, he recorded 15 broken tackles in 2019."
There's a chance the top free-agent receivers such as Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, and Chris Godwin don't even hit the free agent market. The draft might be the next best option to upgrade at the position.
Bateman was one of the top receivers in the Big Ten conference over the past three seasons. He caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns during his junior season in 2019. He also racked up 472 yards and two touchdowns in an abbreviated 2020 season.
"Bateman can line up on the perimeter or move into the slot," Moton added. "He would also mesh with the Ravens' dominant ground attack as a play-action threat downfield. Going into the 2020 campaign, the Minnesota product had 32 receptions (third-most among returning receivers in Power Five conferences) off play action, per PFF."
How realistic of a draft target is Bateman for the Ravens?
Mock drafts have him taken off the board in the second round. That could give DeCosta the opportunity to trade back in the first round from No. 27 to acquire more picks.
The Ravens have made a concerted effort in recent seasons to invest premium draft picks into receivers, and Bateman is another talented prospect that could elevate the passing attack.
"If you've followed me long enough, you know I have a wide receiver type — between 6-foot and 6-foot-2, somewhere in the 200- to 220-pound weight range and an above-average route runner," Press Box’s Ken Zalis wrote. "Check, check and check for Bateman. He gets open, he catches everything, he tracks the ball well, and makes grabs in traffic. He is the most well-rounded receiver in the 2021 draft."
More Compensatory Picks Down the Line?
The kings of the compensatory picks are projected to receive two this offseason (a fifth-round pick and sixth-round pick), but they could have the opportunity to load up on them again in 2022.
OverTheCap's Nick Corte projected a hypothetical compensatory list based on the top free agents and where they could land this offseason.
Korte believes the Ravens could be in line for three compensatory picks, but could net up to five with impending free agents, Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Tyus Bowser, Willie Snead IV, and Derek Wolfe potentially hitting the market.
In this scenario, Korte projects the Ravens to receive three compensatory picks (two third rounders and one fifth rounder) next season. The hypothetical scenario had the departures of Bowser and Wolfe cancelled out by the additions of Sammy Watkins and A.J. Green.