Many Ravens fans have been frustrated with yet another offseason lacking in a star wide receiver signing by Baltimore’s front office. They’ve made some valuable moves, like signing Kevin Zeitler and Tyus Bowser. Both of those players are on favorable contracts, especially Zeitler, who plays at a very similar level to fellow interior linemen Cory Linsley and Joe Thuney. Linsley and Thuney signed massive contracts, so GM Eric Decosta definitely found the right guy at a great price.
The Ravens’ front office has been good at addressing positional needs on their roster. Just look at last season, when they added two studs in Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. They improved the Ravens defensive line tremendously.
However, DeCosta’s brilliance has not translated to the receiver room. Last season, the Ravens signed free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant. A once incredible endzone threat, Bryant was way past his prime, and while the addition did excite the locker room, it didn’t really add much to this offense at all. That was understandable. There were few options for the Ravens last year, but this offseason there were many.
Baltimore has a very below-average starting lineup at wide receiver. Marquise Brown is great, but my issue is much less with him and more with the lack of any kind of star power elsewhere. Miles Boykin just isn’t that good. I don’t want to sound like a hater, because I really don’t hate Boykin. He’s a genuinely good guy, who has publically admitted some of his mistakes on the football field. I don’t even want him off the team. Boykin is good enough to earn some snaps, but he can’t be a WR2 on a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Further down the list, Willie Snead is probably gone, so his spot will most likely need to be earned by either Devin Duvernay or James Proche, both of whom were barely utilized last season. Duvernay was the kick returner and had a decent number of plays, but definitely not enough to expect a breakout. Proche’s role on the team only got smaller as the season went on. He lost the punt-returning job to Duvernay and only had a single reception all season.
Essentially, the receiver room in Baltimore is not close to being Super Bowl ready. But most of you probably already know that. It was common knowledge that the Ravens had a huge need at wideout this offseason, so here’s the real issue: THE RAVENS ARE NOT GOING ALL IN.
Here’s what I mean. Lamar Jackson has one more year on his rookie contract. That’s crucial to this conversation. Next year, the MVP is going to take up a large percentage of the team’s cap space. Once that contract is signed, it’s going to be even more difficult for the team to buy enough high-level players to push the team to the Lombardi trophy.
Jackson costs almost nothing right now.
The Ravens have seven picks in the draft this year. Late-round draft picks are not going to make an immediate impact on this team, which is what the Ravens should be focusing on right now. A 5th round draft pick is not going to win Baltimore a Super Bowl this year. Yes, the Ravens have been one of the best at developing talent, but that takes time, which is something the Ravens don’t have right now. Even the highly-praised 2018 draft class took some time to develop into stars. Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, and Orlando Brown Jr. were not the players they are today in their rookie season. Development takes time, but the mindset should be to get Lamar players that are already ready to play in the league. Lamar needs help, and even if the Ravens land Rashod Bateman or Terrace Marshall at Pick #27, that most likely will still not be enough.
The Ravens reportedly pushed to sign a few free agents, like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kenny Golladay. DeCosta couldn’t get it done, but he can’t stop there. He has to do something, whether that means getting a receiver in a trade similar to the one that brought Calais Campbell to Baltimore or something else. The Ravens can’t enter the draft, once again with the expectation that a late-first round draft pick will solve the issue.
I still believe in DeCosta, but he’s got to get something done or Lamar’s rookie contract years will be wasted. Once he signs his next contract, it will only become more difficult. Good Luck.