Antonio Brown Trains With Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, Adding Fuel to Rumors
With videos and photos surfacing on social media of Antonio Brown breaking a sweat with Lamar Jackson and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown at his South Florida gym, the AB-to-Baltimore rumors are heating up again.
In Late for Work last week, we noted that Shannon Sharpe said on FS1's "Undisputed" that the Ravens have shown interest in the veteran free-agent wide receiver this offseason. Now Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton is predicting Brown will sign with the Ravens.
"Although (Marquise) Brown has recorded 104 receptions for 1,353 yards and 15 touchdowns through two solid campaigns, the Ravens still need help at wide receiver," Moton wrote. "Willie Snead IV signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, and Miles Boykin hasn't developed into a consistent contributor with 32 catches in 32 games. Quarterback Lamar Jackson wanted Brown to sign with the team last offseason. Perhaps he gets his wish this time around."
Brown, who helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the Super Bowl last season, has had talks with the Bucs about returning but they're not close on money, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
After signing Sammy Watkins, would the Ravens have interest in Brown? Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich thinks so.
"Baltimore could certainly use another playmaking wide receiver and has some salary-cap flexibility to add Antonio Brown," Karpovich wrote.
Like Watkins, Brown has a Super Bowl ring and would be a veteran presence for a team with a young receiving corps, but Brown's conduct off the field has to be taken into consideration.
It's understandable if you're feeling a sense of deja vu. Jackson and the Brown cousins also worked out together at this time a year ago, sparking speculation that the Ravens were interested in signing the former All-Pro.
Antonio Brown subsequently posting a photoshopped image of him wearing a Ravens uniform intensified the rumors, as did a report that the Ravens had internal discussions about signing him. When Brown was still available in late July, Jackson said he still hoped the Ravens would sign him.
Brown, who turns 33 in July, eventually signed with Tampa Bay in October and joined the team after serving an eight-game suspension for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. He had 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight regular-season games, and scored two touchdowns in the postseason, including one in the Super Bowl.
Jim Mora Jr.: 'We're Just Seeing the Beginning of Lamar's Greatness'
Even though Jackson has already won an MVP award, set rushing records for a quarterback, and posted an .811 winning percentage in the regular season, former NFL Head Coach Jim Mora Jr. said the 24-year-old is just scratching the surface.
"I think we're just seeing the beginning of Lamar's greatness," Mora told Karpovich. "You're talking about a talent that is still developing. He's still early in his career. He shows great promise as an overall quarterback prospect. … He'll continue to develop as a thrower, as a quarterback, as a field general, as a game manager, all of those things."
While some pundits have suggested that signing Jackson to a long-term deal is risky because of how frequently he runs, Mora said Jackson is "learning how to take care of his body."
"You gasp when you think about $40 million, but that's the going rate and it's a worthwhile risk for this type of player because he is without a doubt a game-changer," Mora said. "I was a defensive coordinator and the pressure he puts on a defense is really hard to measure. He's hard to prepare for.
"When I watched him play this year, he reminded me of when I coached Mike Vick. What we always tried to do with Mike is when he was running the ball, I wanted to get him outside the numbers, outside the hash where he could protect himself, where he could get out of bounds. Or, if he was involved in contact, it was with a defensive back type of player, not with a bigger guy, or he could slide and see things around him. When I watch Lamar, I'm seeing those things start to appear."
A First-Round, Trade-Back Scenario for Ravens
The Ravens traded back in the first round in 2018 (twice) and 2019. Might they do so again this year?
NFL.com’s Chad Reuter proposed a Day 1 trade between the Ravens and Atlanta Falcons that he thinks makes sense. He has the Ravens trading the 27th-overall pick for the No. 35 pick and fourth- and fifth-round picks.
It's no secret General Manager Eric DeCosta likes to have as many picks as possible. The Ravens currently have seven picks this year (one pick in rounds 1-4 and Round 6; two in Round 5).
"If [the Falcons] want to win in 2021, they'll select tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4 … then move into the late first round to get a desperately-needed pass rusher," Reuter wrote. "As was mentioned earlier, the value at defensive end is in the lower third of the first round this year. Oklahoma's Ronnie Perkins, Penn State's Jayson Oweh and Miami's duo of Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau could all be around where Baltimore's set to select. The Ravens may have interest in one of those players, too, but they could also be motivated to trade out to find value on the edge in a later round.
"In past drafts, they've found linebackers Tyus Bowser (Round 2, 2017), Matt Judon (Round 5, 2016), Za'Darius Smith (Round 4, 2015) and Pernell McPhee (Round 5, 2011) outside the first round. This year, potential selections include Daelin Hayes (Notre Dame), Janarius Robinson (Florida State) and Elerson Smith (Northern Iowa)."
Re-Signing Anthony Levine Sr. Receives a 'B' Grade
Re-signing special teams stalwart Anthony Levine Sr. to a one-year deal is being praised as yet another solid move by the Ravens front office this offseason. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec gave the signing a "B" grade.
"His return provides some stability on special teams as Levine is a vocal leader that Head Coach John Harbaugh and Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton trust," Zrebiec wrote. "Levine still plays special teams at a high level and he's a leader to the team's young defensive backs.
"The Ravens do have a handful of veterans who are viewed as special teams only type guys and that limits roster flexibility. However, that's more of a concern for late August, not early April. There's no downside to this move, which was anticipated."
Levine, 34, has been with the Ravens since 2012. Punter Sam Koch, kicker Justin Tucker, and cornerback Jimmy Smith are the only current Ravens who have been with the team longer.
Levine joins outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee, defensive end Derek Wolfe, and linebackers L.J. Fort and Chris Board as key players the Ravens re-signed this offseason.
Analytics Show Ravens Are Best Fit for LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr.
LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. is a popular first-round pick for the Ravens in mock drafts, and NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund said her data shows that Baltimore is indeed the ideal fit for him.
The goal for Frelund's wide receiver/team pairing was "maximizing the draftee's 2021 win share, factoring in what we know about each team's personnel, coaches and strategy right now."
"Versatility plus physicality drive this pairing," Frelund wrote. "[Pro Football Focus] shows that Marshall posted 20 contested catches in 2019 and 2020 (tied for second-most in the SEC during that span), with the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder hauling in a whopping 81.8 percent of such targets (nine of 11) this past season.
"My models show that his hips are square to the ball (which is a predictor of catching the ball/winning the contested catch) at a top-five percent over the past eight seasons. And his total of seven receiving TDs on targets of 20-plus yards since 2019 is tied for third-most in the SEC, per PFF."