The Baltimore Ravens revamped and reloaded their pass-catching arsenal this offseason with the signing of veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the drafting of rookie wideouts Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, and the acquisition of tight end Josh Oliver via trade.
While the biggest benefactor of these moves is clearly quarterback Lamar Jackson, the second is arguably tight end Mark Andrews who has been his most trusted target since he became the starter.
Andrews was a victim of his own success last year after breaking out with a Pro Bowl season in 2019. Since he established himself as one of the premier pass-catching tight ends in the league in his second year, opposing teams paid a lot more attention to him in his third, especially with Hayden Hurst no longer in the picture after being traded in the offseason.
After practicing with his new teammates for the first time over the last two weeks in OTAs, Andrews knows that his job is going to be a lot easier going forward because the Ravens have more weapons in the passing game that will take a lot of attention away from him.
“Just being out there with obviously Sammy, Rashod, and a couple of the other guys, the new young guys, those guys are balling out,” Andrews said. “The deep threat, the stretching the field, making plays, catching the ball, everyone is incredibly locked in. Just the whole energy around this program right now is awesome.
Even though this current bunch hasn’t been together long and hasn’t faced an opposing defense or even put on pads yet, Andrews already believes they are in tune with each other and likes what he’s seeing from their expanded passing attack.
“Everyone is moving on the same page and working toward the same goal,” Andrews said. “We’re trying to be the best team that we can be, and our pass game is looking really good, to be honest with you. So, I’m excited about it.”
Andrews has also liked and is even more encouraged by the impact that new offensive coaches Tee Martin and Keith Williams are already having on his fellow pass catchers. Martin was hired to be the new Wide Receivers Coach and Williams was brought in to be the Pass Game Specialists. Both coaches are well known for their work in developing some of the best wideouts in the league.
“I think having those two new coaches here and that receiver group is awesome,” Andrews said. “Just the drills that I’ve been in, the attention to detail that they bring to that wide receiver group has been awesome. They’ve come over multiple times and just little things here and there. All that stuff adds up.”
“As an offense and especially as a passing game, that’s going to be great. Those two guys have been extremely dynamic – just from what I’ve seen so far – and I’m excited to learn more and just to hear more of what they’re saying because what they’re putting out is very good.”
Andrews has vastly outplayed his draft status since coming into the league as a third-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2018. He is heading into the fourth and final year of his rookie contract and would like to remain with the Ravens for the long-haul.
“I love Baltimore. I love being here, I love playing here,” Andrews said. “I want to be here for the rest of my life; this is home for me. That’s where I’m at. I want to be the best player for this team.”
Even though he’s entering a contract year, getting a new deal is not something he stresses over because he intends to let the product he puts on the field and the impact he has on his team make and cement his case for a big payday.
“You can’t worry about too much about the outside noise and what happens with that,” he said. “I’m just going to let my play speak for itself.”
According to multiple reports, Andrews is already in “mid-season form” and had an especially strong showing on the final day of OTAs that was open to the media. He was impressive in red-zone drills, consistently got open, and was catching everything.
“Mark looks really good, he’s practiced really well,” Harbaugh said. “I told him today that I really feel like he’s running routes the best that I’ve seen him run routes since he’s been here – very crisp, very sharp and explosive and all of it.”
Route running is a skill that is very important to Andrews and being able to run good routes is something that he put a lot of emphasis on improving this offseason.
“I feel like I’m getting in and out of breaks really well. I feel light and feel fast,” Andrews said. “I’m excited to see what I can do.”
With more weapons around him to divert take a lot of the onus and attention away from him in the passing game paired with his personal refinement, Andrews is poised to have his best season to date and will likely get paid his worth before the year is out or shortly after.