Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray Taking Vastly Different Approaches to Next Contracts
Contract extensions for Lamar Jackson and the Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray are hot topics, but the approaches the two star quarterbacks are taking regarding their next contracts couldn't be more stark, NFL Network's Rich Eisen said.
Jackson has said that he's more concerned with getting healthy and improving this offseason than his contract. Murray scrubbed his Instagram account of all references to the Cardinals, and his agent released a lengthy statement about his client's desire for a long-term contract, saying that "actions speak much louder than words in this volatile business."
"One guy's agent puts out a statement; the other guy doesn't have an agent. One guy's like, 'I know you've got a fifth-year option on me and two more franchise years after that, but let's go,'" Eisen said. "Lamar's out there saying, 'Yeah, we'll get to it.' And the Ravens are probably like, 'Hey, let's talk.'
"I'd rather have the kid who's like, 'Yeah, I'll get around to it,' than the other one who's like, 'Time's ticking!' … If I'm somebody in charge of a team, I'd rather have the one who reps himself and says, 'We'll get around to it. I love you guys. You love me. I know we're good.' Then the other guy's saying, 'Well, show me the money to show me that you love me.'"
Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Murray, the No. 1 overall selection in 2019, still has two years remaining on his rookie deal.
General Manager Eric DeCosta reiterated in his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine yesterday that he wants to get a deal done with Jackson.
"I hope so at some point that we will [reach an extension]," DeCosta said. "We've discussed this at length and I said this before. We will work at Lamar's urgency. He and I have had ongoing discussions. We've talked fairly recently as well. He knows how to find me, I know how to find him."
Unlike the seemingly strained relationship between Murray and the Cardinals (after Murray's social media scrub, the Cardinals responded with a scrub of their own on its Instagram account), DeCosta said the Ravens and Jackson "have an awesome relationship."
"Lamar has spent time with Coach (John Harbaugh) and I, in John's office, on the phone via text. I don't want to speak for him, but I think he's very excited about this season we have coming up," DeCosta said.
DeCosta Believes Rashod Bateman Will Make 'Big, Big Jump This Year'
Wide receiver Rashod Bateman's rookie season obviously did not go according to plan.
The 27th-overall pick missed most of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season after suffering a groin injury that required surgery.
However, when Bateman returned to the field, he showed flashes of his vast potential.
There were several noteworthy takeaways from DeCosta's press conference, but one that shouldn't be overlooked — and should get Ravens fans excited — is what he had to say about his expectations for a healthy Bateman in Year 2.
"The thing I've been impressed [about] with Rashod [is] his route running, [he has] very, very good hands and his attitude this year — his ability day-in and day-out to compete, to learn the offense, to challenge the defensive backs every single day, and he made plays when he had the chance," DeCosta said. "He's very strong to the football. We think he's going to make a big, big jump this year in his second year, and we're very excited for his future."
The potential for Bateman to have a breakout season is one of the main reasons the annual narrative of the Ravens needing to add an impact wide receiver in the draft or free agency has largely been quelled this year. Our John Eisenberg addressed the latter earlier this week.
Bateman's work ethic is unquestionable. Last month Jackson poised Instagram clips of him throwing passes to Bateman and James Proche II.
DeCosta is not alone in his belief that Bateman will make a leap next season. Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash named Bateman the Ravens' top candidate to break out in 2022.
"Bateman attacked the ball in contested scenarios in college, and that translated to the NFL — he caught 10 of his 15 such targets as a rookie," Treash wrote. "The 2021 first-round pick has stated how the 'IQ of the game' was the biggest adjustment for him his first year in the NFL. Bateman had a tough time effectively separating on the outside in the NFL, but given his collegiate dominance with his releases and route-running, there's reason to believe he takes a big jump in 2022 with a clean bill of health and stable quarterback situation."
Free-Agent Defensive End Emmanuel Ogbah Named a Good Fit for Ravens
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler identified one fit for each AFC team in free agency, and for the Ravens it was Miami Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.
"With Don 'Wink' Martindale exiting stage left, Baltimore's new-look defense under Mike Macdonald — the league's youngest coordinator — is on the hunt for pass-rushing help. The reliable and productive Ogbah would help fill the void left by Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell," Sessler wrote. "Coming off back-to-back nine-sack seasons in Miami, he's established himself as a quarterback nuisance after a nomadic start to his pro career. He's sturdy against the run, creates havoc inside and out and vibes as an upward-trending player set to mesh with John Harbaugh's team-first culture. That's So Raven."
Ogbah, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the first pick of the second round in 2016, had career-highs in quarterback hits (24) and passes defensed (12) this past season. He's No. 15 on NFL.com’s top 101 free agents list.
"If Ogbah had been drafted No. 1 overall, like Jadeveon Clowney, or played for the Cowboys, like Randy Gregory, this ranking wouldn't be surprising. Ogbah has been producing like a star for years, without the recognition," NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal wrote.
Ogbah also was linked with the Ravens in a free agency mock draft by CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin.
"Calais Campbell could easily warrant another short-term deal here, but Ogbah offers longer-term upside and some emerging pass-rushing juice for a defensive front that's lacked steady pressure," Benjamin wrote.
Speaking of Campbell, DeCosta said yesterday that he hopes to re-sign the 14-year veteran.
Should Ravens Trade Up to Land Safety Kyle Hamilton?
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton has not been linked to the Ravens in mock drafts, and there's a good reason for that: he is expected to be a top 5 pick, perhaps going as high as No. 2.
That said, PFF’s Conor McQuiston believes the Ravens would be the best team fit for Hamilton. McQuiston thinks it would be worth it for Baltimore to use some of its draft capital to trade up and snag Hamilton.
A ball-hawking safety is something the Ravens have lacked for several seasons. CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson referred to Hamilton as "a 6-4, 220-pound version of Ed Reed — a sideline-to-sideline ball hawk."
McQuiston wrote: "So why is Hamilton a fit with the Ravens? During his last season at Notre Dame, he spent 20% of his snaps in the box, 27% as a deep safety and 51% in the slot. Coupling this extreme versatility with his athletic numbers reported by Bruce Feldman in his annual ‘Freaks List,’ there is plenty of reason to believe he can do anything a defense asks him. This doesn't even mention his ludicrous production statistics, such as his run defense stuff rate, which ranked 39th among all 348 defensive backs that have been drafted since 2015.
"He is particularly interesting with the Ravens because he would be playing with one of the more creative defensive minds in football — Ravens Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald, who was more multiple with his single-high and two-high safety looks at Michigan. Macdonald would deploy Hamilton in a variety of roles and solve problems wherever they arise."