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Late for Work: Pundit Debates Whether Odell Beckham Jr. Will Be Back With Ravens Next Season

WR Odell Beckham Jr.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Looking at Whether Odell Beckham Jr. Will Be Back With the Ravens Next Season

The Ravens made one of the splashiest free-agent signings in franchise history when they landed star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. last Easter. Whether the three-time Pro Bowler will be back in Baltimore next year is one of the many questions the team faces this offseason.

The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker said the Beckham question is complicated.

"Beckham is technically not one of the team's more than 20 impending unrestricted free agents after his one-year, $15 million contract was reworked, with substantial void years being removed from the deal," Wacker wrote. "That revision, as noted by Russell Street Report, allows Baltimore to use a post-June 1 release if an extension is not reached by March 14. Doing so would spread out the dead money in the deal over this year and next, rather than have it all hit in 2024, meaning $2.767 million would count for this year and $8.301 million for 2025.

"But given that the Ravens are already tight on cap space with just over $7.3 million in room, per Over The Cap — a number that should climb to around $8.8 million with the league's salary cap projected to be around $245 million for the 2024 season — the only feasible way for Beckham to return with such a large guarantee for 2025 would be to adjust his contract. Should the Ravens bring him back, and does he want to come back? Those are not necessarily mutually exclusive questions."

Beckham, 31, said after the season that he still has more in the tank. He also said he "absolutely loves this place" and "this felt like home."

Returning to action for the first time since suffering a knee injury with the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl in February 2022, Beckham caught 35 passes for 565 yards and three touchdowns. However, his impact on the Ravens went beyond the numbers.

"In the locker room, Beckham was parked next to Zay Flowers, imparting his 10 years of wisdom on the rookie receiver, and was a popular sage among teammates young, old and in between," Wacker wrote. "And with only Flowers and Rashod Bateman among the Ravens' top four wide receivers signed for next season, Beckham, or perhaps veteran impending free agent Nelson Agholor, would be a welcome addition to return — at the right price."

Wacker said Beckham's return could depend on what the market dictates, but "it might be possible for the Ravens and Beckham to re-do his deal and keep the salary cap implications manageable, which will be particularly important given other, more costly free agents on their roster such as defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, other needs and a full draft class to sign."

Odafe Oweh Ranked Among Most Difficult Fifth-Year Option Decisions

Another question facing the Ravens is whether they will pick up the fifth-year option on edge rusher Odafe Oweh.

The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov ranked Oweh among the five most difficult fifth-year option decisions.

"Odafe Oweh recorded five sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 13 games this past season. He has steadily improved year-to-year but has yet to break out," Meirov wrote. "Should Baltimore believe his arrow is still pointing up?

"Picking up the option could be on the table because $12.1 million for an emerging pass-rusher would be a bargain. Baltimore declined Patrick Queen's option last year, and he had a career year in 2023, setting himself up to get paid in free agency."

Like Queen, Madubuike had a breakout season in Year 4, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Oweh becomes the next Ravens defensive player to make the leap. The 2021 first-round pick was named Baltimore's most improved player this past season by Pro Football Focus.

The deadline to decide on fifth-year options is May 2.

Ravens' Rookie Class Gets a B Grade draft analyst Chad Reuter announced his rookie grades for the AFC North. The Ravens received a B.

Here's are some excerpts from Reuter's analysis:

Flowers (Round 1, No. 22)

"Flowers made an immediate impact working with MVP Lamar Jackson in Baltimore's offense. The rookie led the team with 77 receptions for 858 receiving yards, excelling on all types of routes despite fighting off injuries. Jackson waited a long time for the team to add a reliable playmaker who could help him move the offense, and it appears the Ravens' personnel evaluators finally came through."

ILB Trenton Simpson (Round 3, No. 86)

"Baltimore traded its second-round pick to Chicago for linebacker Roquan Smith in 2022, leaving one Day 3 selection in last year's draft — which the team used to add Simpson. The former Clemson linebacker did not start any games, but he took advantage of playing time in the season finale, making seven stops, including two for loss, with a sack against the Steelers. He should be more of a presence in 2024."

EDGE Tavius Robinson (Round 4, No. 124)

"Robinson was the only Saturday pick that contributed, seeing the field more regularly than Simpson as a reserve edge (26 tackles and a sack)."

RB Keaton Mitchell (undrafted)

"Mitchell spent the first portion of the year on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, then put up some eye-popping numbers in his eight appearances, including a 138-yard effort against Seattle in Week 9 and a per-carry mark of 8.4 yards. Unfortunately, a knee injury in December ended his season prematurely."

The Pittsburgh Steelers received the only A in the division. The Cincinnati Bengals got a B+ and the Cleveland Browns received a C.

Jackson Scores High in Sports Illustrated's Quarterback Confidence Index

Sports Illustrated’s Matt Verderame compiled a confidence index for every AFC starting quarterback on a scale of one to 10 (the higher the number, the more confidence there is). He factored in talent, age, contract, cap hit, and injury history to arrive at an overall number.

Jackson received a nine.

"The Ravens had a tough ending to their season, but the future is brilliant," Verderame wrote. "Lamar Jackson is the chief reason why, and at 27 years old he will cost only $32.4 million against the cap in 2024. A two-time MVP, Jackson gives Baltimore the ultimate dual-threat QB, now surrounded by a legitimate cast of weapons."

Only two quarterbacks got a 10: Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes and Houston's C.J. Stroud. Buffalo's Josh Allen also got a nine.

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