Late for Work 4/9: If Not Steelers, JuJu Smith-Schuster Would've Picked Chiefs Over Ravens

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Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster Preferred Chiefs Over Ravens

Before signing Sammy Watkins, the Ravens were one of the teams who reportedly made a strong push for free agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Smith-Schuster opted for familiarity, re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers on a one-year, $8 million deal, but recently said on the Michael Irvin Podcast that his second choice would have been the Kansas City Chiefs, not the Ravens.

"[Playing for a rival], too, and I'm curious to see how they're going to be this year having Watkins and how they're going to use him and throwing the ball and stuff like that," Smith-Schuster said. "Lamar [Jackson]'s in a really, a heavy run offense with the backs that he has, just point being facts. His No. 1 target was [Mark] Andrews, who's a tight end. I think, just seeing K.C. and bro, Andy Reid was just calling me and he was sending me Lombardi Trophy pictures like constantly. We had a good talk, so it would've been K.C. after the Steelers."

The Ravens reportedly offered Smith-Schuster a one-year, $9 million with $3.5 million in incentives, the most of any team.

Smith-Schuster said the recruitment from Baltimore started with newly-hired Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin, who coached Smith-Schuster at USC.

"Martin … ended up going to the Ravens and he reached out and that's how that process started," Smith-Schuster said. "Lamar reached out, the head coach called, Marlon Humphrey's hitting me up. It starts getting serious when the players start texting you and hit you up like, 'Yo, what's up, bro? What we doing? Come win.' All respect to them, and it was cool. But I think with me it's more so staying home, staying loyal. In my situation, we have a new OC, Ben's coming back, my relationship with my receiver coach, Ike Hilliard, is amazing. You can't beat that."

"It's just a tough sell to get a receiver to come to an offense where you're blocking more than running go routes," ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote in late March. "The last Ravens wide receiver to eclipse 800 yards receiving was Mike Wallace in 2016."

With that being said, Hensley also pointed out that the Ravens won more games and scored more points than any other team since 2018.

Head Coach John Harbaugh and General Manager Eric DeCosta haven't apologized for how they've built the offense in Baltimore, which has recruited the likes of Watkins, who's eager to elevate the passing attack.

Ravens Named as a Trade Destination for Anthony Miller

With rumors about the possibility of Antonio Brown joining the Ravens after working out with Jackson and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Baltimore could also look to add a receiver through a trade.

Bleacher Report's Brad Gagnon thinks that player could be Chicago Bears receiver Anthony Miller.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported earlier this week that the Bears have been discussing a trade involving Miller "with a number of teams."

"Jackson simply needs more targets beyond Watkins, Brown and Andrews, and Miller would bring stability, crisp routes and a solid resume to the primary slot role that is currently vacant," Gagnon wrote. "Baltimore should strongly consider parting with the penultimate pick of the third round in exchange for Miller. The Ravens might be able to land him for a fourth-rounder because he's entering a contract year, but he's also cheap and young at a critical position, so the price tag could be driven into Day 2."

A second-round pick in 2018, Miller never developed into a standout receiver in Chicago. He reached the 600-yard receiving mark once in his first three seasons, and finished with 485 yards and two touchdowns in 2020.

With the free agent receiver market thinning, a trade has been mentioned as a way for the Ravens to add more firepower at the position. It could also provide a cheaper alternative.

Miller will count for just $1.7 million against the cap entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2021.

New Mock Draft Has Ravens Making a Surprise Pick

There are way too many mock drafts to keep track of this time of year, but one in particular caught the eyes of Ravens fans. NFL.com's Peter Schrager mocked Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley to the Ravens at No. 27.

"The Ravens have a great, young defensive backfield," Schrager wrote. "They're not done adding to it. Farley, who is only available at this point because of health concerns, combines 4.4 speed with good NFL size. Wink Martindale and the Ravens' D will find a way to make him shine even brighter than he did in college."

The pick prompted a mixed reaction.

It's an interesting pick for a couple of reasons. The first is that Farley wasn't expected to be in the Ravens' draft range late in the first round.

Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson said Farley should be a top-10 pick, but a back procedure could drop him down draft boards.

ESPN's Todd McShay has the Virginia Tech cornerback falling to No. 18 in his latest mock draft.

"Farley had a back procedure at the end of March, and though it isn't expected to impact his training camp availability, it's a concern," McShay wrote. "Still, he is the best cover corner in the class and fits what the Cardinals are looking for on the outside."

The second reason is that cornerback isn't necessarily among the Ravens' top needs heading into the draft.

The counterpoint to that would be that it's a position the Ravens value having depth at, and we saw last season how quickly a secondary can be decimated by injuries.

"If Baltimore loves tight ends, it's head over heels for cornerbacks," Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens wrote. "In this era of football where teams are throwing the ball more than ever before, it's a wise investment for any team, making it a perpetual need for the Ravens."

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