A stud wide receiver is the obvious thing missing from the Baltimore Ravens’ passing game. Lamar Jackson is a franchise quarterback, even if his long-term future is still undecided, while Mark Andrews is a sure-handed, All-Pro tight end.
What Jackson and Andrews need is a wideout other teams will fear. An outside threat who will take coverage away from Andrews on the inside and make even Jackson’s errant throws look good.
Fortunately, the free-agent market still features one receiver perfect for the job. A brittle but brilliant veteran who shook off a reputation as a diva to finally win the Super Bowl his talent demanded last season.
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Injured Champion Worth the Wait for Ravens
Odell Beckham Jr. headlined a list “ranking the 10 best unsigned players under 30” by Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report. Wharton named the Ravens among a group of four teams, including the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Rams, as the best fits for Beckham.
The Rams are the standout name because they are who Beckham helped win last season’s Super Bowl. He moved to L.A. after being waived by the Cleveland Browns during the 2021 season.
Beckham only appeared in eight regular-season games for the Rams and his numbers were modest. They included five catches for 39 yards and a touchdown against a Ravens secondary ravaged by injuries in Week 17.
Those performances propelled the Rams to a place in Super Bowl LVI to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. Beckham only made two grabs, but one went for the game’s opening touchdown:
Joy turned to misery when Beckham succumbed to a torn ACL He suffered the same injury as a member of the Browns in 2020.
Beckham has endured a litany of injury problems since entering the NFL as a first-round pick of the New York Giants in 2014. His latest setback could sideline him “until October or maybe even November,” according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (h/t Bleacher Report’s Timothy Rapp).
This timeline means Beckham looks set for another mid-season switch of teams by the time he’s 30. The Ravens shouldn’t wait until then because signing Beckham and stashing him on IR for a while is worth it, considering the transformative effect the 29-year-old would have on this passing game.
Beckham Would Transform Ravens’ Passing Game
The two touchdowns Beckham caught last postseason showcased his versatility scheme-wise. Against the Cardinals, he was split out as the lone receiver on one side of a 3×1 set. When he scored against the Bengals, OBJ lined up in the slot.
These are just two of the options for a creative offensive coordinator using Beckham’s move skills, precision route-running and impressive catch radius. The Ravens need this level of creativity in a passing game that’s been criticized in recent years.
Brown enjoyed a career year in 2021, making 91 receptions for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns, but he’s no Beckham. The latter would expand the way Roman and Jackson attack defenses through the air.
Beckham would also be a reliable pair of hands on the outside. Noted for his scarcely believable catches, the veteran proved last season he’s still able to reel the ball in from difficult angles, like for this catch against the Bucs:
The Ravens lack this kind of versatility and playmaking flair at the wide receiver position. Second-year man Rashod Bateman is expected to lead an unproven group also featuring Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace, who combined for just 51 catches a year ago.
Whether they wait until November or move now, the Ravens won’t find a better proven wideout than Beckham still available. He’d likely jump at the chance to join another team capable of contending for a championship right away.
Adding Beckham to an offense strong and deep at every other position could be the catalyst the Ravens need to spark a postseason run.