Ravens Aren't Expected to Pursue a No. 1 Receiver
How the Ravens will address the wide receiver position this offseason remains to be seen, but pundits don't expect them to pursue the top names.
"One of the Ravens' biggest needs is adding to a wide receiver group that ranked last in the NFL in catches (137) and receiving yards (1,729)," ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote. "The expectation is Baltimore won't pursue a No. 1 wide receiver like Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay.
"Signing one or two wide receivers from the second tier (perhaps Corey Davis, Sammy Watkins or A.J. Green) would boost the Ravens' passing game at a lesser cost."
CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr said not pursuing a No. 1 receiver is problematic for the Ravens, and doesn't feel like Baltimore has enough at the position to help Lamar Jackson this season.
"Baltimore has $18.06 million in available salary cap space at the moment, but also has free agent decisions to make with Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue – as both will be expensive to retain on the roster," Kerr wrote. "The Ravens are also set to revamp at wide receiver with Willie Snead entering free agency and Dez Bryant not coming back into the fold – leaving Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, and Devin Duvernay as the top three options from last season.
"That's not nearly enough to help Jackson, who threw for 2,757 yards and 26 touchdowns despite the lack of options on the outside. Perhaps the Ravens will seek a trade for a No. 1 wideout, but the front office can't let this position go unnoticed while Jackson is the premier dual-threat quarterback in the league."
Chris Godwin, Golladay, and Robinson are expected to receive franchise tags this offseason, so there's a chance they might not even reach the free agent market. But that doesn't eliminate the possibility of adding a player that can upgrade the passing attack.
As Hensley mentioned, the Ravens could target players from the second tier.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport echoed a similar sentiment during an appearance on "The Lounge" Podcast. He mentioned Watkins as being a good fit.
"I think this year especially with the franchise tag, how many key big-time receivers are going to be available?" Rapoport said. "I'm not sure that many.
"[Watkins] has battled injury concerns, but when he's been healthy, he's been really productive – especially in big games, big moments. … I think what you're going to get is not the second tier, but the 1B of receivers. You can get some really good value there."
Rapoport: Lamar Jackson Contract Negotiations 'Haven't Started Yet'
In yesterday's edition of Late for Work, we looked at the buzz surrounding Lamar Jackson's contract negotiations.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio disputed a report that Jackson and the Ravens are "far apart" in contract extension talks, and Rapoport said the same thing in an appearance on the "Pat McAfee Show."
"I've actually heard they haven't started yet," Rapoport said. "... It's not my knowledge that they've started anything."
"Given the NFL has yet to release an official salary-cap figure for the 2021 season, it would seem a stretch for the sides to even engage in meaningful conversations," Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich wrote. "The Ravens are not naive and they know Jackson's market value."
Karpovich noted that the Ravens have typically waited to complete larger extensions for their players once the draft and free agency are over.
"What's unreasonable is to jump to absurd conclusions," Press Box's Glenn Clark wrote. "It's unreasonable to think something like 'this is proof that the Ravens don't think Jackson is any good' or 'the Ravens always planned to let him play out his rookie deal, franchise him twice and then move on' or whatever other ridiculous proclamation you might want to toss around.
"I'm of the opinion that if the Ravens are going to end up giving Jackson a long-term extension, they should try to get it figured out now so that they can be fully aware of the impact it will have on every other decision they make. But that's an opinion. The Ravens might well prefer to get the salary cap a bit more normalized post-pandemic before they pull the trigger."
Who Should the Ravens Draft to Win Now?
Many perceive the draft as an opportunity for teams to build for the future, but who could the Ravens take to help win now?
That's what NFL.com's Cynthia Frelund looked at in her most recent mock draft. At pick No. 27, she has the Ravens selecting Michigan offensive tackle Jaylen Mayfield.
"The percentage of times he was pushed back on passing downs in 2020 compared to 2019 was significantly improved," Frelund wrote. "On run-blocking snaps, Mayfield handled blitzes and athletic moves by defenders at the third-most consistent rate in the Power Five."
With uncertainty surrounding Orlando Brown Jr.'s future in Baltimore, there's a strong possibility the Ravens will address the offensive line this offseason.
Mayfield faced some of college football's top pass rushers during his time at Michigan, and draft pundits see him as a high-level offensive line prospect.
In their latest mock draft, Pro Football Focus had Mayfield off the board to the Buffalo Bills at pick No. 61 near the end of the second round. Interesting enough, they identified him as a potential tackle-to-guard convert at the NFL level.
"[H]e is young and has the physical makeup that gives him a lot of upside," PFF wrote. "Prior to playing in a couple of games in 2020, Mayfield was a bit of a roller coaster at Michigan. He was inconsistent throughout his 2019 campaign, flashing high-end reps but also constantly showing how unrefined he is technically. That year, he gave up 27 pressures en route to a 70.2 PFF grade."
The Ravens have a strong track record of drafting and developing offensive linemen, but have not selected one in the first round since Ronnie Stanley in 2016.
Cleveland Comeback Among Jackson's Top Ravens Moments
Heading into his fourth season with the Ravens, Jackson has already solidified himself as one of the NFL's premier players. Hensley ranked the top moments of Jackson's young career so far and put the comeback win against the Cleveland Browns last season at the top.
"With the Ravens in a must-win situation to reach the postseason, Jackson misses most of the fourth quarter with cramping in his legs and arms and Baltimore watches a 34-20 lead turn into a 35-34 deficit," Hensley wrote. "Returning with two minutes remaining, Jackson scrambles on fourth-and-5 and throws a 44-yard touchdown to Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown on his first play back.
"That touchdown pass increased Baltimore's chances of reaching the playoffs from 56% to 82%, according to ESPN Stats & Information."
Many considered it the best game of the season in 2020 and you're going to get no argument from me.
Not only did the win help propel the Ravens into the postseason, it crushed the narrative that they couldn't win from behind with Jackson under center. Jackson led the Ravens on a six play, 38-yard drive to set up Justin Tucker's 55-yard game winning field goal.
Amari Rodgers Would Love to Play for His Father in Baltimore
Clemson wide receiver prospect Amari Rodgers said he never had the chance to play for his father growing up, but that could change in the coming months.
The son of newly hired wide receivers coach Tee Martin is hoping for the opportunity to be drafted by the Ravens.
"I know that he's going to push me, he knows me more than anyone," Rodgers told Glenn Clark Radio. "I know that he knows what's good for me and what's not. So, if I had the chance to play for him, he would definitely build me into the player I know I can be.
"That's really what drove me my whole high school career and through college, that I wanted to make a name for myself and show people that I am an elite player. That's really what motivates me, what takes me through each day of training right now."
Wide receiver is a position many pundits believe the Ravens will look to upgrade through the draft, and Rodgers's addition would be more than just a feel-good story. He led all receivers during his senior season at Clemson with 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns.
According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers finished just behind Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith in yards after catch/receptions among Power Five Conference leaders last season.
Rodgers saw Jackson play during his freshman season at Louisville and told Glenn Clark Radio that he's one of the best players he's ever seen play in person.
"I'm definitely confident in my skill set, what I bring to the game with my route running, my speed, my hands," Rodgers said. "I feel like my value is higher than a lot of people see it. I'm just ready to prove it when I get in the league."
- "The biggest move at running back is securing [Gus] Edwards, a restricted free agent who is one of two running backs to gain more than 700 yards rushing and average over five yards per carry in each of the past three seasons (Nick Chubb is the other)," Hensley wrote.
- The Ravens were named as a landing spot for recently released linebacker Kyle Van Noy.