The 2022 NFL offseason is lurching on and the Baltimore Ravens still haven’t given Lamar Jackson an elite wide receiver. He’s a franchise quarterback, but Jackson looks set to enter a pivotal year having to throw to a cadre of unproven wideouts.
Jackson and the Ravens know the time is fast approaching when the dual-threat sensation will either sign a lucrative contract extension, take the franchise tag or enter free agency. Naturally, the Ravens will hope Jackson commits for the long haul, and that will surely be more likely if he has a legitimate, No. 1 receiver to help pad his numbers.
A pass-catcher that ought to intrigue Ravens’ general manager Eric DeCosta is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2010s. He’s still on the free-agent market, and one NFL writer has named him among three receivers “the Ravens should look to add.”
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7-Time Pro-Bowler Ideal for Ravens
Signing a proven commodity at wide receiver should be near the top of the Ravens’ to-do list for the rest of this offseason, according to Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski. He named three free agents who would fill the need: “the Ravens should look to add a Julio Jones, Will Fuller V or Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency.”
Sobleski views any member of this trio as a worthy replacement for Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown. The latter was Jackson’s go-to wideout last season, but was traded to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2022 NFL draft.
Of the three names listed, Julio Jones is the most intriguing. He’s 33 and coming off a disappointing season with the Tennessee Titans.
Injuries also didn’t help, with Jones suffering persistent hamstring problems prior to being released after just one year in Tennessee, but it’s his prodigious spell with the Atlanta Falcons the Ravens should look at. During 10 seasons in Atlanta, Jones became the franchise receiving leader. He caught 848 passes for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns.
Those numbers earned Jones a spot on the league’s all-decade team, alongside receivers the caliber of Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Brown and Calvin Johnson. Jones didn’t show it last season, but there’s still enough of the playmaker who bossed pro defensive backs in the previous decade left for the Ravens to at least kick his tyres.
Ravens Need to Replace Sammy Watkins
There’s been so much focus on replacing Brown, many have forgotten about the pressing need to offset the loss of Sammy Watkins. The latter jumped ship to the Green Bay Packers in free agency, taking away the lone established talent in Baltimore’s wide receiver room.
What Watkins did provide was a veteran presence and a true burner who averaged 14.6 yards per reception. Jones could replace those qualities as a 6’3″, 220-pound target still able to stretch the field.
Adding Jones would give Jackson another receiver he can trust, alongside All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews. It would also leave second-year man Rashod Bateman, the Ravens’ first-round pick in 2021, to take over Brown’s role.
Bateman and fellow young wideouts Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace could use an experienced leader like Jones to set the example and show them how to develop.
If Jones can be acquired on a low-cost, low-risk and short-term deal, this makes too much sense for the Ravens not to make a move.