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Quarterback Lamar Jackson puts on a show every time he steps on the court. But the Baltimore Ravens can’t be a one-man show while hoping to take on the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins as the AFC’s top teams.
Adding another wide receiver could go a long way toward rounding out the Ravens’ offense. Fortunately, a superstar is ready to test the market after suffering a serious knee injury in Super Bowl LVI.
According to FOX Sports Jay Glazer, Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to be completely rid of his torn ACL next week, which will leave the wide receiver open for business as he seeks to sign with another team. Glazer added that there will be “many suitors” for OBJ’s services.
The Ravens should be at the top of the list depending on the need and the situation.
Monday’s performance against the New Orleans Saints showed just how desperately the organization needs a true No. 1 wide receiver. an injury, Jackson didn’t have a prime target, especially outside of the numbers.
Baltimore’s wide receivers combined to make five receptions for 55 yards in the 27-13 victory at Caesars Superdome.
Admittedly, Rashod Bateman suffered a season-ending foot injury in last week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the lack of depth beyond the 2021 first-round pick shows how poorly Baltimore’s roster is built at a key position.
Yes, the Ravens attack first. Andrews and rookie Isaiah Likely are definitely weapons. Eventually, Andrews will return (likely after the break next weekend) from shoulder and knee injuries. The Ravens need more firepower, though, especially on the wide stretches of the field.
To Eric DeCosta’s credit, the general manager tried to make a move by signing veteran DeSean Jackson last month, and the 35-year-old speedster played his first game with the team on Monday. Unfortunately, Jackson pulled a hamstring and did not finish the contest. His signature served as a half measure anyway.
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DeCosta and Co. failed to properly address the wide receiver long before the 15-year-old vet even became an option.
After trading Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for a first-round pick in the April draft, the front office chose not to address the position despite moving a legitimate 1,000-yard option. DeCosta assigned Bateman to an expanded role after picking the Minnesota product with the 27th overall pick in the previous draft.
Even then, a lot of uncertainty swirled around Baltimore’s wide receivers as the league saw the position move into premium status thanks to numerous high-profile trades and mega-contract extensions.
Despite the obvious change in course, the Ravens stayed true to their belief among the team’s young wide receivers, including Devin Duvernay and James Proche II. Demarcus Robinson also joined the band on a one-year contract.
They had their moments. Those moments aren’t good enough on a consistent basis to deter the front office from making a meaningful move to help fulfill playoff aspirations.
The biggest blow to Jackson’s stellar career thus far was the Ravens winning a playoff game with him as the starting quarterback.
The 2019 NFL MVP is truly unique. Her ability to escape pressure and create with her legs borders on another world. In fact, it ranks now fifth all time in yardage of a quarterback. Jackson needed less than half the games to join Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Randall Cunningham and Russell Wilson.
“I don’t take that for granted. I’ve said ‘Wow’ many times,” Harbaugh said. told reporters after being asked about his quarterback’s ability to get away from defenders and create big plays.
But as special as Jackson is, he can be slowed down by the league’s best defenses once Baltimore reaches the win or start phase of the process. By acquiring a real threat on the outside, the Ravens’ offense could expand and become even more dangerous.
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On Saturday, Beckham turned 30. The former second-team All-Pro is now three seasons away from his final 1,000-yard effort. He also underwent two ACL reconstructions on the same knee. Still, his value remains at an all-time high after playing through the first half of this year’s Super Bowl.
“I think there’s going to be a big bidding war for Odell,” Glazer said (h/t Kyle Posey of Niners Nation).
Several teams have already been linked as possibilities. Glazer mentioned the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. The Los Angeles Rams remain in play. Beckham said the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants have also expressed interest.
“… general managers of teams that are all going to the playoffs – teams that are 6-2 or 7-0 – the best teams are calling,” Beckham said in an interview with complex sports. “It’s not like a team calling just because people know what I can do on the pitch.”
The Ravens have two things going for them in potential signing Beckham: stability and Jackson.
“I want to be able to spend…these next three or four years in something where I can buy a house. Like I can call this place home,” Beckham added. “I’m sick of living with too many suitcases. …I made the rock ‘n roll life.”
Baltimore’s offensive setup might not be as nice for a big receiver with plenty of options. But Beckham can enter the Baltimore facility as WR1 on day one. He’ll be able to play with a young quarterback on his way to a Hall of Fame career, in the hopes that he’ll get a franchise tagged or signed to long-term extension after this season.
Also, the Ravens win. They currently reside at the top of the AFC North, with two losing campaigns since John Harbaugh became head coach in 2008.
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Also, Beckham’s aspiration to put down roots in one place for several years after bouncing from the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns to the Rams in the previous four seasons works in Baltimore’s favor.
Currently, the Ravens only have $2.4 million in salary cap space available, according to Spotrac. A multi-year deal allows the team to offer a significant signing bonus, which will be pro-rated over the entire contract. For accounting purposes, the wide receiver can play under the veteran minimum for the remainder of this season.
The Ravens are already pretty good. After all, Baltimore is only the fifth team in the Super Bowl era to hold a lead of 10 or more points in its first nine games of the season, according to The Athletic’s. Jeff Zrebiec.
Jackson can resume any game at any time. The racing game is still powerful. A healthy Andrews will provide a significant boost. Baltimore’s defensive front remains aggressive and very physical. The franchise just doesn’t offer a comprehensive list.
Adding a receiver of Beckham’s caliber after the trade deadline brings enough potential to turn the Ravens’ offense from something difficult to manage and into a real showdown.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.