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Late for Work: Odell Beckham Jr. Reveals What Ravens Said That Made Him Cancel Free-Agent Visit With Jets

WR Odell Beckham Jr.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. Reveals What Ravens Said That Made Him Cancel Free-Agent Visit With Jets

Odell Beckham Jr. discussed his desire to sign with the New York Jets this past offseason and what the Ravens did to change his mind during his appearance on teammate Marlon Humphrey's "Punch Line Podcast.”

The star wide receiver said his preference was to play with Aaron Rodgers in New York, and he had a meeting scheduled with the Jets to finalize a deal.

"I think in my heart I was set to go back to New York and be a Jet," Beckham said. "I remember getting a call over the weekend. It was like, 'Hey, this is the Ravens. This is our offer. What is it going to take for you to not take that visit? If you do get on that plane, just know that the offer is off the table.' And I was like, 'Can you give me 20 hours ro to talk to my people, because I'm in a different time zone."

Humphrey said he likes how the Ravens talk business.

"I like it, too," Beckham replied.

Beckham did not take the visit and went on to sign a one-year deal with the Ravens reportedly worth $15 million.

Beckham is enjoying being a Raven — he recently said this is the best team he has ever been on, which is quite the compliment considering he was a member of the Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl squad two years ago — and indicated he would like to return to Baltimore next season, especially if this season ends with the Ravens winning the Super Bowl.

"If we finish what we need to do, I don't think I'd really want to be anywhere else," Beckham said. "It was that good to me. I think, honestly, finishing it would make it that much sweeter for sure."

Beckham, who was wearing a T-shirt with Usher's face on it (Usher is this year's Super Bowl halftime performer), said he guarantees the celebration will be one his teammates never forget if the Ravens capture the Lombardi Trophy.

"I'm going to make sure that it is a night that everybody will get to remember for the rest of their lives," he said. "It's my duty actually to make sure if y'all take me home … it is a night we remember forever."

Beckham looked into the camera, smiled, and said: "Lamar, take us home," before immediately making it clear that he isn't getting ahead of himself. "One game at a time, too, Coach Harbs, I know."

Pundits Preview Ravens-Texans Matchup

Now that it's known that the Ravens will host the Houston Texans in a divisional playoff game on Saturday, pundits have begun previewing the matchup.

ESPN analytics writer Seth Walder made the case for why each team could win.

Why the Ravens will win: "The 2023 Ravens' defense finished sixth in EPA per play (minus-0.1) among all teams over the past 10 seasons. Sixth! Baltimore's incredible defense — with all its simulated pressure that seems to constantly create sack opportunities — gives the Ravens a great chance against anyone. I haven't even mentioned the likely league MVP yet. Lamar Jackson finished the season hot, with incredible performances against the 49ers and then the Dolphins to close out his regular season (he sat in Week 18). With real receivers on this offense, including Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr., every play is a constant dual threat of Jackson's legs and arm. Baltimore can win with offense or defense (heck, or even special teams). And that's why the Ravens are so tough."

Why the Texans will win: "Well, how about C.J. Stroud? Sure, there are other reasons — from receiver Nico Collins to rookie edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. — to like Houston, but what Stroud has done in recent weeks gives the Texans hope against anyone. And that includes Baltimore. Since Week 16, Stroud ranks third in QBR, behind only Jackson and [Green Bay's Jordan] Love. Stroud is a rookie growing into the professional quarterback he'll become before our eyes, and the progression is happening fast. He's already at the point that Houston has become dangerous. Oh, and the only defense that was better than Baltimore this season? Cleveland. And Stroud handled that test just fine in the wild-card round."

The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker and Childs Walker looked at the biggest questions facing the Ravens ahead of the game. Here are some excerpts:

How are the Texans different from when the Ravens beat them in Week 1?

Walker: "That was Stroud's first game as an NFL quarterback, DeMeco Ryans' first as an NFL head coach. The Texans' most talented defensive players, edge rusher Will Anderson and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., were also neophytes. The Ravens rolled up 30 pressures, six quarterback hits and five sacks against Stroud. The Browns' top-ranked defense managed just five hurries and one quarterback hit against him in Houston's wild-card round blowout. Stroud made use of that clean pocket to execute a near-perfect postseason debut. As John Harbaugh said Monday, the Texans are 17 games different than they were in the opener, and they've made the most of those 17 games."

How will the Ravens' defense, which led the NFL in sacks, takeaways and points allowed per game, attack the Texans' offense?

Wacker: "Putting pressure on the rookie, much the way they did in Week 1, will again be paramount. Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald has been terrific with his disguises, from simulated pressures to unusual twists and stunts. Baltimore has gone after quarterbacks all year long and with success, and that's not changing."

The Texans' defense has allowed 12 points per game over their past three. How will the Ravens' offense attack them?

Wacker: "We've seen Lamar Jackson dial up the passing game and take shots downfield against susceptible defenses and the Texans certainly qualify with one of the poorer secondaries in the league, especially on the outside. Also, watch out for Justice Hill catching passes out of the backfield and for the Ravens to milk things on the ground if they get in front."

Plays That Defined Jackson's Sensational Season

The Baltimore Banner's Paul Mancano identified the plays that defined Jackson's season, which is expected to end with him winning his second league MVP award. Here are three of them:

Week 7: 12-yard touchdown to Nelson Agholor against the Lions

"The Ravens' 38-6 defenestration of the Lions in Week 7 might've been the most shocking outcome of the season. Detroit came into the game with a 5-1 record and a 3-0 mark on the road. Then, Baltimore locked the doors of M&T Bank Stadium and kept them shut. The Ravens scored touchdowns on each of their first four offensive possessions, and Lamar's magical pocket manipulation was on full display on the second score. Facing third-and-3 at Detroit's 12-yard line, the quarterback eluded edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson in the backfield, then scrambled to his right, stopped and tossed a touchdown to Agholor."

Week 15: 26-yard completion to Isaiah Likely against the Jaguars

"Lamar's ability to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge oncoming rushers has never ceased to frustrate opposing defenses. Never was that more evident this season than in the Ravens' prime-time Week 15 game in Jacksonville. With Baltimore clinging to a 10-7 lead in the final minute of the third quarter, Jackson dropped back on a second-and-6 from Jacksonville's 30-yard line. He swerved under a would-be arm tackle by Dawuane Smoot, spun 360 degrees, staggered to his right and heaved a pass to the other side of the field. Twenty-six yards downfield, tight end Isaiah Likely leapt to make an, ahem, unlikely grab over a defender."

Week 17: 75-yard touchdown to Zay Flowers against the Dolphins

"Lamar dropped back on first-and-10 from his own 25 and faked the handoff to Justice Hill, but then continued to drift backward on his offhand side. Surely he wasn't preparing to throw a left-handed pass, but it was enough to fool Dolphins safety Jevon Holland. Jackson then reset his feet and hurled a deep pass to a wide-open Flowers, who took it the distance for a 75-yard score. It was the first 100-yard game of Flowers' career and could be a sign of the kind of creativity the Ravens will display in the playoffs."

Odafe Oweh Is Ravens' Most Underrated Player

The Ravens' dominant defense has no shortage of stars, including All-Pros Roquan Smith, Kyle Hamilton, and Patrick Queen; breakout player Justin Madubuike; and veterans Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy.

One player whose contributions have somewhat flown under the radar is outside linebacker Odafe Oweh. Baltimore Beatdown’s Zach Canter said the 2021 first-round pick is the Ravens' most underrated player.

"Oweh quietly had a five-sack and two-forced-fumble season while missing a ton of time," Canter wrote. "He missed most of Week 2 after being hurt and then was inactive for four weeks. He then hardly played any of the Week 18 matchup. So effectively over 11 games, he averaged almost a half-sack per game and was third on the team for overall pressures. He had his best season as a pro with an 80.7 PFF grade (previous high was 67.9 in 2021). He was also top 10 in the NFL in win rate for all edge rushers with at least 100 snaps in 2023."

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