Analyst Believes Ravens Will Decline 5th-Year Option on Former 1st-Rounder

Ravens WR Rashod Bateman evades a tackle during game against Dolphins.

Getty Ravens WR Rashod Bateman evades a tackle during game against Dolphins.

As the main wave of free agency has ended, teams will turn most of their attention to the NFL draft process with the thought of 5th-year options in the background. For the Baltimore Ravens it means deciding whether they should exercise the option for WR Rashod Bateman.

Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger wrote an article analyzing each first-round pick from the 2021 draft class and whether teams would be picking up the 5th-year option.

For the Ravens and Bateman, Spielberger wrote, “PFF Prediction: Decline.” He went on to write, “This one could be really tough. Bateman has dealt with various injuries and disappeared at times when on the field.”

The reason teams will trade back into the first-round or potentially take a higher upside player, like a QB, is the benefit of the 5th-year option giving extra control over a prospect.

The option amount for Bateman, according to PFF, would be $14.34 million for the 2025 season, a $10 million increase from his current cap hit of $4 million. This would give him the 7th highest cap hit for the Ravens during the 2025 season.

Bateman has not lived up to the first-round pedigree he showed while a member of the Minnesota Gophers. He was expected to be a redzone monster for QB Lamar Jackson but only has four touchdowns in his career.

Rashod Bateman Has Not Lived up to the No. 1 Role

Bateman was drafted 27th overall in the 2021 NFL draft and with the expectation that he and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown would form a dynamic 1-2 punch.

Things got off to a rough start for Bateman as he missed the first five games of the season due to injury. He finished the 2021 season with 46 catches for 515 receiving yards, which are both still career highs.

He is only 24 years old, so he could still bloom into a valuable contributor but up to this point it’s been unsuccessful. In 2021, Bateman was the third leading receiver in yards and catches but has struggled since then.

In 2022 he was injured for a majority of the season and was only able to play six games. 2023 saw himself falling further down the pecking order, in an already run-heavy offense, as Odell Beckham Jr and Zay Flowers were brought in.

With the departure of Beckham heading into the 2024 season, Bateman may have one more chance to make his mark. It will be interesting to see if Eric DeCosta gambles and picks up the option or allows the receiver to play on a contract year.

The Ravens did not pick up LB Patrick Queen‘s 5th-year option and he had a career year and joined the Pittsburgh Steelers on a good contract.

DeCosta has until May 2 to decide whether he wants to pick up the option.

Ravens Still Need to Build out the WR Corps

DeCosta has not done much this offseason to address the WR group besides re-signing Nelson Agholor to a 1-year contract. With Beckham unlikely to return, Flowers, Agholor and Bateman are the only three wide receivers with significant playing experience.

Spielberger wrote about Bateman explaining, “He’s still a clear top-two wideout on this roster alongside 2023 first-round rookie Zay Flowers, but his 46 receptions and 515 yards from his rookie season remain his career-best marks.”

Those kind of career highs are not going to cut it for a No. 2 WR on a team with Super Bowl aspirations and would not merit a $14 million cap hit.

There are still serviceable receivers available in the market but if the Ravens are not looking to invest money, they could turn to a deep 2024 WR draft class.

In Spielberger’s article a mock screenshot of the Ravens taking Georgia‘s Ladd McConkey is included. The Ravens have nine draft picks currently, so they have plenty of capital to address the position during the draft.

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