The Baltimore Ravens’ offense ranked dead last in passing in 2020 and could greatly benefit from adding another dynamic pass catcher to pair with wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown and tight Mark Andrews. An additional playmaker would aid in the maturation of reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson as a passer.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh told reporters last Wednesday that he would welcome the addition of a big-bodied possession receiver that could provide Jackson with a skilled target and huge catch radius.
“I think a big, physical receiver would be awesome for us – a big target for Lamar [Jackson]. It could be another tight end too. Or a speed guy that could open coverage up would be valuable too. We could use anybody that’s good.”
“If we can bring an ‘Anquan Boldin’ in here, let’s do it. Let’s do it!” Harbaugh said. “Now, can we afford it and move the resources from other things that we need? That’s the details that we have to figure out.”
Boldin’s stay in Baltimore was brief but very impactful. He was a reliable and sure-handed chain moving target and a dangerous red-zone weapon for former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco from 2010-2012 and played a key role in the team’s magical title run in 2012.
Assuming the rumors that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will franchise tag Chris Godwin are true and the Ravens won’t take a flier on an injury prone speedster like soon to be former Houston Texan Will Fuller, who will still be serving his suspension when the 2021 season kicks off, there are four other wideouts slated to hit the open market in March that fit the Boldin mold but possess more speed and are still in their respective primes.
Countless Ravens fans have been banging the drum for the team to bring in the seventh-year veteran wideout. In 2020, he led the Chicago Bears in targets (151), receptions (102), and receiving yards (1,250).
His playing style closely resembles Boldin’s and he specializes in making difficult and low percentage catches look routine. Robinson has shown the kind of selflessness and anti-diva mentality that the Ravens covet in their receivers.
The fourth-year pro made a name for himself with the Detroit Lions as a big-play threat as one of the best contested-catch and jump ball specialists in the league, an area where Boldin was also proficient throughout his career and especially during his time with the Ravens.
He recorded 20 receptions for 338 yards and a pair of touchdowns in five games last season but prior to that, he had posted back-to-back years of 60 plus receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving.
The next player is one that Ravens fans are very familiar with, and even despise, but likely wouldn’t if he were to cross enemy lines and sign with the team, Juju Smith-Schuster soon to be formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The playful and fun-loving fourth-year pro was more known for his pregame TikTok antics and trash talk in 2020 but he is still one of the best young receivers in the league at just 24 years old. In 2020, he recorded 831 yards receiving, led the Steelers in receptions (97), and tied for the team lead in touchdowns (nine).
He’s dangerous in the slot, possessing a vertical, run after the catch skillset and red zone ability, rolled up into a solidly built 6-foot-1 and 215-pound frame.
Since the Tennessee Titans declined his fifth-year contract option last offseason, the former first-round pick is going to be an unrestricted free agent this year and isn’t expected to return to Nashville.
Although he hasn’t quite lived up to his lofty top-10 draft status during his first four years in the league and has yet to record a single 1,000-yard season, Davis has had solid production and is coming off his best year to date where he set new career highs across the board.
In just 14 games and 12 starts, he hauled in 65 of his 92 targets for 984 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
He averaged 15.1 yards per catch in 2020 and proved that he can consistently gain separation, make tough catches when draped in coverage, using his size and large catch radius to his advantage—all of which are traits that the Ravens need in their passing game.
While Robinson has received the most fanfare to date of the receivers listed above, he might also command the highest price. The Ravens don’t like to get into bidding wars for high priced free agents and according to Harbaugh, they aren’t going to plead for anyone to come aboard either.
“I’m not going to even worry about convincing anybody to do something. I’m not going to beg anybody to be here,” Harbaugh said.
“I’m not a college coach, I don’t have to recruit anybody. If you want to win, if you want to be part of a good organization and you want to be part of a team and love coming to work every single day, if you love football and want to play in the AFC North, then come here. If you don’t, if you’re all about stats and numbers and your stat line and how many balls you catch … If that’s all you care for, then there’s a lot of other teams you can play for and I look forward to lining up against you.”
With that being said, Golladay has struggled with injuries at times during his first four seasons, Davis is still budding, and Smith-Schuster showed maturity issues last year, which will likely make them the more affordable among the top pending free agents at the position.
However, I do believe that Robinson would a perfect fit for the Ravens offense because he possesses three of the most important traits that teams look for in any player at any position, on either side of the ball. Selflessness, playmaking ability, and most importantly, availability.
He has been a respected leader in every locker room he’s been in, played a full 16 game season in four of his first seven years, has only missed one season due to an injury which was a torn ACL in 2017, and has increased his production each year he’s been removed from his reconstructive knee surgery, including back-to-back seasons of 90 plus catches and over 1,100 yards receiving.
Golladay, Smith-Schuster, or Davis could likely be signed at a lower price. But it wouldn’t be by much. Adding a high character and high-level producer like Allen could be the final piece into making the Ravens passing game a well-oiled machine that consistently challenges opposing defenses to respect their aerial attack just as much as they do the ground game.
“We want to have really good players at every position,” General Manager Eric DeCosta said Monday. “We want playmakers. We want guys that can stretch the field. We want guys that can catch the ball inside on third downs. We want guys that can scare the defense and allow us to be flexible and balanced up front on offense. We don’t want to be a team that’s forced to do anything; we want to be a team that can dictate to the defense what we want to do.