Ravens’ Lamar Jackson Praised By 5-Time Pro Bowler Amid Trade Rumors

Lamar Jackson

Getty Lamar Jackson received special praise from a five-time Pro Bowler who remains the subject of trade rumors.

Lamar Jackson finally got the marquee wide receiver he wanted when the Baltimore Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency, but another Pro-Bowl wideout thinks it would be “an honor” to play with No. 8.

DeAndre Hopkins admitted as much during an appearance on the I AM ATHLETE podcast. He was asked about rumors Jackson wanted the Ravens to sign OBJ and trade for D-Hop. While he didn’t confirm any knowledge about that request, Hopkins did reveal he’s “been a fan of Lamar for a long time.”

Hopkins, who remains a candidate to be traded by the Arizona Cardinals, doubled down on his praise for Jackson when naming five quarterbacks he’d love to catch passes from in the future.

Baltimore’s QB1 figured in the mix because “not a lot of people respect this guy but, you know as a throwing quarterback, Lamar. Lamar Jackson, obviously.”

Those are encouraging words, but the moment may have passed for Hopkins to link up with Jackson and Beckham. Especially since the Ravens also added to their wide receiver room by selecting Zay Flowers 22nd overall in the 2023 NFL draft.

Flowers and Beckham mean the Ravens finally have some star power at the position, but any chance to acquire a pass-catcher with Hopkins’ pedigree would surely be tempting for general manager Eric DeCosta.

Multi-Time All-Pro Would Complete Receiver Overhaul

A perennial team weakness could be transformed into the envy of the rest of the league if DeCosta found a way to put Hopkins alongside Beckham and Flowers. It wouldn’t be easy, but there’d surely be some willingness on the player’s part, based on other comments Hopkins made about his future.

The 30-year-old told the podcast (h/t Kyle Odegard of Compare.bet) he doesn’t “currently have a Pro Bowl quarterback” at his disposal.

Hopkins’ apparent concern is well-founded since Cards’ starter Kyler Murray is set to miss time recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL. Murray’s return date is “more likely during the second half of the 2023 season,” according to Eric Williams of Fox Sports.

That timeframe would leave Hopkins to catch passes either from veterans Colt McCoy or Jeff Driskel, or perhaps fifth-round pick Clayton Tune. This much uncertainty at football’s most important position is a recipe for transition for a team rebuilding following 2022’s 4-13 finish.

A receiver with six 1,000-yard seasons on his CV might expect more, and the Ravens would offer Hopkins greater stability. They also own a playoff-ready roster already strengthened after last season.

A main focus of the strengthening involved adding Beckham and finally securing Jackson’s long-term future. The signal-caller signed a five-year contract extension worth $260 million just prior to the Ravens selecting Flowers.

Welcoming another first-round receiver alongside Beckham and fellow free-agent recruit Nelson Agholor, gives Jackson no shortage of targets. The 2019 NFL MVP also has some forgotten options who could finally meet their potential as part of a star-studded supporting cast.

Ravens Can Get More from Forgotten Receivers

Flowers’ arrival should spell trouble for Rashod Bateman, who has played in just 18 games since being drafted with the 27th pick in 2021. Yet, Bateman is still on the roster and already making his presence felt during OTAs, per Clifton Brown of Ravens.com.

Bateman’s early start is a positive sign ahead of what is a make-or-break season for the 23-year-old. He still has the raw speed to be a legitimate big-play threat in combination with Jackson.

Their connection has helped Bateman average 13.1 yards per catch since he entered the league, but there are other budding playmakers waiting in the wings. Among them, Devin Duvernay has the versatility to be a gadget-style weapon on the ground and through the air, while second-year tight end Isaiah Likely is an athletic phenom with the potential to dominate.

It means there might not be any room for Hopkins, who would surely take a ton of targets away from Bateman and Co. The Ravens have their proven veteran in Beckham, so they’d be wise to balance his experience with the upside of Flowers, Bateman and Likely.