Late for Work 3/31: Ravens Linked to Antonio Brown Again  

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Bucs WR Antonio Brown

Ravens Linked to Antonio Brown Again

After reportedly making runs at JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton before eventually signing Sammy Watkins, the Ravens have shown they're trying to add weapons around Lamar Jackson.

On FS1's Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe said the Ravens have shown interest in veteran free-agent receiver Antonio Brown.

"I heard [the Ravens] are still in the market for Antonio Brown, but the thing is price for him", Sharpe said. "If it wasn't for price, guess where he'd already be? Like all the rest of the guys that went back to Tampa [Bay Buccaneers]."

Brown is one of the few free agents from the reigning Super Bowl champs who hasn't re-signed this offseason. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Tuesday that "there's offers out there" for Brown.

Things got interesting last offseason when the Ravens reportedly had "internal discussions" about bringing Brown in. The former All-Pro receiver eventually signed with the Buccaneers after serving an eight-game suspension for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy.

On the field last season, Brown finished with a modest 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight games. He played as the third or fourth target for Tom Brady behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but also added two touchdown catches in the postseason, including one in Super Bowl LV. 

There are reasons why a move to Baltimore would make sense. Brown would join a receiver group with his cousin, Marquise ''Hollywood'' Brown. Not to mention, Jackson previously said he hoped the Ravens would sign Brown.

There's no denying what Brown brings to the table in terms of talent, but conduct off the field must be taken into consideration. 

Still, Sportsnaut's Vincent Frank named the Ravens as one of the ideal landing spots for Brown.

"Despite having just recently signed Watkins to a team-friendly contract, it's not a secret that Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta is still looking to find Jackson more weapons," Frank wrote. "Last season saw Marquise Brown lead all Ravens receivers with 58 catches. However, he struggled with drops and only caught 58% of his targets.

"Depth is also somewhat of an issue here after the team's second-leading pass catcher at wide receiver, Willie Snead, departed to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. It's likely Brown will come on a team-friendly deal. We also know that Jackson had in the past campaigned for Baltimore to sign him. Could it happen soon?"

More Terrace Marshall Jr. Talk to Baltimore

Just like with Patrick Queen last year, the Ravens are being linked to an LSU prospect in the first round of the draft.

This time it's receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., who NFL Network's Nate Burleson said Baltimore should get to know.

"You have your speedster in Brown, your route runner in Watkins, now you bring in a guy that stands at 6-foot-4," Burleson said. "... The talent has always been there, so just think about that type of skill set with that offense. It gives Jackson just one more skill player to get the ball down field to him."

If you've been following draft news this offseason, this isn't the first time Marshall has been linked to the Ravens. 

ESPN's Mel Kiper has Marshall landing in Baltimore at pick No. 27 in all three of his mock drafts.

Pundits don't expect the Watkins addition to affect the Ravens' plans in the draft, which is why Pro Football Focus' Austin Gayle and NFL.com's Cynthia Frelund have Marshall landing in Baltimore. 

"Marshall is a big-bodied wide receiver who can play in the slot or on the outside at the next level," Gayle wrote.

"Even with the addition of Watkins in free agency, this move optimizes offensive gains," Frelund added.

Ravens, Rams One of the Best Week 17 Matchups

We're getting more football and pundits believe the Ravens have one of the most intriguing matchups.

The Ravens will host the Los Angeles Rams for their ninth home game this season, and it was ranked among the top new matchups added.

"Two years ago, Jackson shredded a team coming off a Super Bowl berth, 45-6," USA Today's Nate Davis wrote. "Last year, the Rams were the NFL's stingiest defense both in yards and points allowed. Should be interesting to see how Aaron Donald and Co. (plus new QB Matthew Stafford) respond in the rematch."

Yahoo! Sports' Nick Bromberg ranked the matchup second only behind the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.

"The Rams are all-in to win a Super Bowl with Donald and Jalen Ramsey after trading Jared Goff for Stafford," Bromberg wrote. "The Ravens are going for their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. Both teams are in divisions that may be the toughest in their respective conferences. This could have a big impact on playoff seeding."

AFC North Ranks Among the Top Divisions

Speaking of rankings, Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton ranked each division after the start of free agency and the AFC North is represented well.

Moton ranked the AFC North second, only behind the NFC West.

"The AFC North doesn't have the reigning Super Bowl champion, but three of the four teams made the playoffs last season," Moton wrote. "Those clubs will vie for a home playoff game in 2021. The worst squad of the group should grow significantly."

The Steelers, Browns, and Ravens made up almost half of the AFC postseason field last year. There's reason to believe that could be the case again this year.

All three teams return a ton of talent. And not to mention, the Bengals could only get better with former No. 1 pick Joe Burrow coming back from a knee injury.

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