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Mailbag: What Kind of Wide Receiver Do the Ravens Need?

WR Rashod Bateman
WR Rashod Bateman

Downing: Is it too greedy to ask for both? The Ravens plan to remake the wide receiver room this season and I expect them to address it in a variety of ways. They will likely add a combination of veterans and rookies, and they're looking for pass catchers who can do it all.

If I were to point to a specific type of receiver the Ravens need, I would actually focus in on the speed threat more than any other one trait. The deep threat is something the Ravens missed in their offense last year after the Marquise Brown trade and injury to Rashod Bateman. They're going to get Bateman back this season after the foot surgery ended his season after just six games in 2022, and he'll inject this offense with speed. (In case you need a reminder, here’s the 55-yard touchdown he caught in the season opener vs. the Jets.). But even with Bateman back in the fold, the Ravens still need an additional deep threat on this offense.

As far as the big-bodied receiver vs. the excellent route runner, I think a big receiver would bring a new element to the offense. The Ravens struggled mightily in the red-zone this year, and they could greatly benefit from adding someone who can haul down jump balls in that part of the field. We'll spend the next few months dissecting all the receivers in this year's draft class, but one who fits the bill for this assignment is TCU's Quentin Johnston, who measures in at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. ESPN's Mel Kiper projected him to the Ravens in his first mock of the year, and he would give the Ravens a big-time red-zone threat. Whether it's Johnston or someone else, the Ravens would like to add some size to the receiver group to get players who can go up and make tough catches in traffic.

Mink: First of all, I'm personally in favor of a reunion with Peters if the price is right for both sides. If the Ravens don't bring him back, it will indicate their confidence that Brandon Stephens, Jalyn Armour-Davis or Pepe Williams will be ready for larger roles next year, perhaps with one as a starter. In that scenario, I could also see the Ravens bringing back or adding a less expensive veteran on a shorter contract to add experienced depth. Maybe that's Daryl Worley or Kevon Seymour. Maybe it's some other free agent at some point even well after free agency opens.

Even if the Ravens signed a veteran cornerback, I still think the draft would be the primary way the Ravens address the need. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see the Ravens invest a first-round pick at cornerback. It would be the first time since 2017 with Marlon Humphrey, and Baltimore has a long history of nailing first-round corner picks. There's a variety of good cornerbacks that should be available in the late first round.

It still would be a steep hill to climb for a late first-round corner to become an immediate starter, but he would probably do so at some point during his rookie year and the Ravens have enough other options to bridge the gap if needed.

Downing: I don't see it. If the Ravens use the franchise tag, it's going to be on Lamar Jackson. They already worked out a long-term deal with Roquan Smith, who was the other pending free agent who could have been a target for the franchise tag. They wanted to keep the tag available for Jackson. If they work out a long-term deal with him prior to free agency starting, then it would likely just go unused this year.

Cornerback Marcus Peters and guard Ben Powers are probably the team's top two free agents, but it's tough to see the Ravens using the tag on either of them. If the Ravens have the money to keep them, the more likely solution would be to work out multi-year deals, rather than the using the franchise tag that comes at a steep cost.

Mink: The age of the candidates doesn't matter to John Harbaugh. It's the ideas they bring. Mike Macdonald got the job last year not because he would become the youngest defensive coordinator in the league, but because Harbaugh liked his vision for how he would improve the defense. That's going to be the case for the offensive coordinator position as well.

Harbaugh has also reportedly requested to interview Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who is 53. Todd Monken, the offensive coordinator at Georgia, is 56 years old. Bieniemy and the Chiefs have been thought leaders in the NFL for years. Monken has orchestrated college football's most explosive offense and won back-to-back national championships. They've stayed ahead of the curve.

At the end of the day, Harbaugh has cast a wide net that includes a variety of backgrounds. Good ideas don't come exclusively from younger candidates. Also, I think this hire has nothing to do with Harbaugh's job security, as you mention. He has plenty of that.

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