The Baltimore Ravens are still looking for another wide receiver after the draft-night blockbuster that sent Hollywood Brown to the Arizona Cardinals, and they could turn to one of the multiple All-Pro wideouts still on the market.
The Ravens were initially rumored to be interested in Jarvis Landry before he opted for a homecoming with the New Orleans Saints, forcing them to find another option.
Baltimore could renew their pursuit of four-time Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton, but Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine thinks they could aim even higher by attempting to sign one of the two available All-Pro receivers to strengthen Lamar Jackson’s group of targets.
Ballentine listed the Ravens as a potential landing spot for both Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr., the only two wide receivers on his list of top remaining NFL free agents.
“At this point, Julio Jones may be more name recognition than anything, but there’s still some potential for him to be a valuable asset,” wrote Ballentine on May 20.
Indeed, Jones is no longer the consistently-elite receiver he once was, with just 19 games played in the last two years due to injury. In that stretch, he totaled 82 catches, 1,205 receiving yards and four touchdowns – numbers that he surpassed in the previous six individual seasons.
But with 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman ready to step into a leading role in Baltimore, Jones’ wouldn’t be asked to be the WR1 he was for much of his career.
“At 6’3″ and 220 pounds, Jones still brings a big, physical presence to the wide receiver room,” continued Ballentine. “A team desperate for proven production at the receiver position could do worse than bringing in Jones.”
Jones’ 63.4 yards per game over the past two seasons would be plenty of production for what the Ravens currently need, and he’s earned solid run-blocking grades from Pro Football Focus throughout his career as well. Throw in his ability to mentor the Ravens’ young-but-promising receiving corps and Jones could be the final piece of Baltimore’s 2022 offense.
Injured All-Pro Could Be Alternative Option
But the Ravens may have trouble signing Jones, as they may not want a long-term commitment to the 33-year-old but likely could not afford his one-year asking price.
The Ravens could instead go with a slightly younger option in Odell Beckham Jr., though he is coming off an ACL tear suffered in Super Bowl LVI.
Similar to Jones, Beckham’s 2020 and 2021 seasons were below the statistical standards he had previously set in his career, but he looked reinvigorated after arriving in Los Angeles last season.
He emerged as a credible red zone threat, scoring five touchdowns in eight regular season games with the Rams before taking his game to a new level in the postseason with 288 yards and two touchdowns in four appearances.
However, his ongoing recovery from injury could delay Beckham’s return to the field until late in 2022, and he’ll have to prove he still has the acceleration and agility that make him such a special player.
Baltimore Could Be Perfect Spot for OBJ
But Beckham signing with the Ravens could be the ideal fit for both sides.
Baltimore could offer the 29-year-old a contract with a minimal 2022 cap hit given the uncertainty of his status this season. Incentives could sweeten the deal for Beckham, who will be looking to prove that he’s still an elite playmaker in order to take advantage of the NFL’s exploding market for wide receivers.
It’s unclear if the former New York Giant will want a one- or multi-year deal with his new team. A one-year deal will allow him to hit free agency as soon as possible, while a multi-year deal would offer him some insurance in case he struggles to return to form after his injury.
The Ravens offense would also benefit from the addition of Beckham.
Ballentine thinks that Beckham is “no longer the bonafide WR 1 that he used to be,” but he won’t need to be with Bateman and All-Pro Mark Andrews already commanding most of Jackson’s targets. Instead, he can be a reliable veteran target on third down and in the red zone for Jackson, a pared-back role that could ease Beckham back on the field after his ACL tear.
“The 29-year-old proved in his time with the Los Angeles Rams that he can be the No. 2 or 3 option on a team that contends for the Super Bowl,” wrote Ballentine.
Beckham’s ability to gain yards after the catch would also be welcome in Baltimore, especially if he’s able to add a new dimension to the Ravens offense late in the season and in the playoffs.
While Baltimore’s regular-season offense has thrived with Jackson under center, they’ve struggled to dominate opposing defenses in the postseason. Beckham could be a dangerous new weapon for Jackson heading into the playoffs right when the Ravens offense might need an extra boost.