Ravens Urged to Replace Hollywood Brown With 7-Time Pro Bowler

Marquise Hollywood Brown

Getty The Ravens should choose a 7-time Pro-Bowler to replace Hollywood Brown.

Trading Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to the Arizona Cardinals on draft day earned the Baltimore Ravens another first-round draft pick. Yet, that pick came at the cost of further depleting an already thin contingent of wide receivers.

Sammy Watkins joining the Green Bay Packers in free agency took away the senior man in the receiver room, even before the deal for Brown was made. Trading the latter removed the last experienced member of the depth chart.

The Ravens haven’t been in any kind of hurry to replace last season’s most-productive wideout, preferring instead to entrust the reins to young, unproven options. Fortunately, there is an obvious remedy to the Ravens’ problem on the free-agent market, a seven-time Pro-Bowler who is still waiting for a call.

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Veteran All-Pro Can Still Help Ravens

Julio Jones would be a no-brainer signing the Ravens should make happen right now, according to Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine. He cites Baltimore’s willingness to “dip into the late-veteran free-agent market,” illustrated by the decision to bring back pass-rusher Justin Houston on a one-year deal.

Like Houston, Jones is also 33 and has his best years in the pros behind him. That being said, Ballentine believes Jones can still help the Ravens, both on and off the field.

While acknowledging “strong” leadership qualities that would be an obvious asset for the locker room, Ballentine also outlined why Jones would be an upgrade over the Ravens’ existing WRs: “He’s only made 19 appearances over the past two seasons, but he’s also just one season removed from averaging 11.3 yards per target, which would have been the best mark among all Ravens receivers last season.”

This big-play potential is an important point for a passing game that desperately needs to stretch the field on the outside. The Ravens have become overly reliant on working the middle, usually through a connection between quarterback Lamar Jackson and All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews that risks becoming over-saturated this season.

Outside concepts are often designed poorly, with Nate Tice of The Athletic pinpointing a congestion in the way the Ravens run routes on the perimeter:

Jones is no longer the force he used be during his peak days with the Atlanta Falcons, but he still has physical traits the Ravens need at wideout. At 6’3″, 220 pounds, he’s a big body who can win with size and strength on the outside.

Jackson needs a playmaker out wide to draw coverage away from Andrews and second-year receiver Rashod Bateman. Jones could fill this niche role in a scheme designed to maximize his strengths.

In the process, he’d be able to prove he still has something left in the tank after a disappointing 2021 season with the Tennessee Titans.

Jones Could Prove Doubters Wrong in Baltimore

Ballentine’s reference to how much time Jones has missed the past two seasons is telling. He’s been on the shelf so often, it’s been easy for people to forget just how dominant Jones was in his prime.

The Ravens shouldn’t make that mistake about a wideout with seven Pro Bowl trips on his CV. He’s also a two-time All-Pro who twice led the NFL in receiving yardage, in 2015 and 2018.

Admittedly, there was little recognizable from Jones’ previous brilliance after he was traded to the Titans last offseason. He started just 10 games, made 31 grabs for 434 yards and caught only a single touchdown.

Yet, hidden among all the seemingly average statistics is one number the Ravens should like. Jones still averaged 14 yards per reception during his time with the Titans, ample proof of his enduring flair for the big play.

He offered a perfect example of this talent by splitting double coverage for a 51-yard gain against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2:

The Ravens need plays like this from their wide receiver corps. Brown always had the potential to take the top off of defenses, but he never did so as consistently as Jones, not even during a career-best 91-catch season in 2021.

Jackson wasn’t happy when Brown was dealt, and the Ravens are risking a lot by not equipping a franchise quarterback, who is entering a contract year, with a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

There aren’t many left on the market who can match Jones’ pedigree.

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