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Late for Work 3/4: Two ESPN Pundits Like JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Ravens

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Two ESPN Pundits Say JuJu Smith-Schuster Is a Good Fit for Ravens

JuJu Smith-Schuster wearing Ravens purple instead of Steelers black and yellow would be an odd sight, but there is growing sentiment that the pending free-agent wide receiver would be a good fit for the Ravens.

ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky said Smith-Schuster wouldn't be a "No. 1 dominant receiver" in Baltimore, but he would complement Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and they'd be a formidable duo.

"We know that they have 'Hollywood' Brown, that vertical speed that is still there, but they need a guy that Lamar [Jackson] really trusts and believes that he's going to win on a consistent basis in man-to-man coverage. I think JuJu's physical enough to do that," Orlovsky said.

Orlovsky added that Smith-Schister fits the Ravens' scheme and style of play.

"It's a very specific scheme fit for them in Baltimore," Orlovsky said. "You have to have a guy that is a willing and capable blocker on the perimeter, so I actually love JuJu to Baltimore." ranked Schuster at No. 25 on its list of the top 101 free agents. He was the sixth-ranked wide receiver.

Smith-Schuster, 24, had 97 catches for 831 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns last season. His best year was in 2018, when he had 111 catches (sixth in league) for 1,426 yards (fifth) and seven touchdowns, and was named to the Pro Bowl.

Marquise Brown: 'I'm Confident In Every Receiver We Got in the Room'

While pundits are trying to find another wide receiver weapon for Baltimore, Brown said all the talk about the Ravens' needing to pursue a "No. 1 receiver" this offseason doesn't change anything for him.

"Honestly, I feel like I'm going to do what I do," Brown said on @IngravenVids. "I'm a playmaker. … If we add somebody else, I'm not going to do nothing but learn either way. If we add somebody, I'm going to learn and still do my job. Either way.

"I'm confident in every receiver we got in the room, to be honest, and if we add somebody, I'm going to be confident in them, too. We've just got to get on the same page and do what we do."

Brown led Ravens wide receivers in receptions (58), yards (769) and touchdowns (eight) last season. Willie Snead IV is set to become a free agent and Dez Bryant is not expected to return, so Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II would be the top returning wide receivers. The latter three combined for 40 catches, 481 yards and four touchdowns in 2020.

Ravens wide receivers ranked last in catches (137) and receiving yards (1,729) last season, but the run-heavy team is not expected to pursue a No. 1 wide receiver in free agency, as noted in yesterday’s Late for Work. Moreover, the top three pending free-agent receivers (Allen Robinson II, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin) are expected to receive the franchise tag.

The more likely scenario for the Ravens is that they pursue a "second-tier" free-agent receiver and address the position in the draft.

Should Ravens Pursue Former Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph?

Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph has been released by the Minnesota Vikings, and Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed thinks the Ravens should make a run at signing the 10-year veteran.

The Ravens had a lot of success in 2019 with the three-headed monster of tight ends Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst, but the trade that sent Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons before the start of last season left a void.

"While Rudolph's production in recent years hasn't been elite, it is right on par with what the Ravens got from Hurst in 2019 when the offense was clicking on all cylinders," Reed wrote. "In his second and final year with the team, Hurst hauled in 30 of his 39 targets for 349 yards and two touchdowns in 16 regular-season games. … Rudolph caught 28 of his 37 targets for 334 yards and one touchdown in 12 games for Minnesota last season.

"He doesn't possess the same explosiveness or vertical ability as Hurst but he would provide Lamar Jackson with another reliable big-bodied target in the passing game and is a capable in-line blocker."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport believes Rudolph, 31, will be coveted by a number of teams.

"In the tight end world, there's not a lot out there," Rapoport said. "There's Hunter Henry potentially, Jonnu Smith potentially — both of those guys could be tagged. You have a guy like Kyle Rudolph who's done it, who's been productive, who's a good guy, he is going to have a legitimate market. … This is something that could happen pretty quickly."

Rudolph was set for the second season of a four-year, $36 million pact and set to make a base salary of $7.65 million.

Ravens Named a 'Realistic Landing Spot' for Jadeveon Clowney

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Jadeveon Clowney is available, and the Ravens should be in the mix for signing him.

Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton named Baltimore as one of five realistic landing spots for the pending free-agent edge rusher.

"Within the front seven, the Ravens need an explosive downhill force to complement nose tackle Brandon Williams and 34-year-old Calais Campbell," Moton wrote. "Clowney could provide exceptional run support and open up pass-rushing lanes for interior defenders with consistent pocket pressure on the edge. At his best, he could lead the Ravens in sacks."

Throughout most of 2020, Clowney was linked to the Ravens in free agency. He reportedly sought a contract worth $20 million annually, but he ended up signing a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans for a reported $13 million.

In the immediate aftermath of his signing with the Titans, it was reported that Clowney preferred the Ravens, who reportedly were attempting a sign-and-trade deal involving a third party to acquire him, but the league wouldn't authorize the move.

Clowney, 28, played eight games with the Titans before undergoing knee surgery. He did not have a sack and recorded six quarterback hits.

"After a down season and with an expected drop in the 2021 salary cap, Clowney shouldn't expect to land a deal worth more than $10 million annually," Moton wrote. "In all likelihood, he'll have to settle for another one-year contract."

Report: Ravens to Propose Revolutionary Overtime Procedures

The Ravens will be proposing a pair of overtime procedures premised on the concept of "spot and choose," according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

The idea is that one team picks the spot of the ball to start overtime, and the other team chooses whether to play offense or defense. With this approach, strategy replaces chance, Florio wrote.

"If the one team picks, for example, the offense's own 20-yard line, the opponent would then choose whether to play offense from their own 20 or to play defense, with the other team having the ball on its own 20," Florio wrote. "This would minimize greatly the impact of the coin toss; under this proposal, the coin toss would be used only to give the team that wins the toss the right to pick the spot of the ball (along with the end zone to be defended) or to choose offense or defense.

"Under one of the two proposals to be made by the Ravens, overtime would proceed in sudden-death fashion, with the first score by either team ending the game and up to 10 minutes of extra time. (If the game remains tied at that point, the game's outcome would be a tie.) Under the other proposal (favored, we're told, by Patriots coach Bill Belichick), the game would continue for another seven minutes and 30 seconds, without a sudden-death component. Whoever leads after the extra time has ended would be the winner. (Again, if the game remains tied after the extra session, the game's outcome would be a tie.)"

Any proposed rule change requires two-thirds approval from the league's 32 teams.

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