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Ravens News 12/22: Trade Value and more

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Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ravens’ hope of salvaging this season rests on Lamar Jackson returning in top form - Jeff Zrebiec

Suggesting the Ravens would again catch lightning in a bottle as they did in 2012 is ignoring the fact that the offense Caldwell inherited in mid-December had a healthy quarterback in Joe Flacco, a healthy all-purpose running back in Ray Rice, three impactful receivers in Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, and a pass-catching tight end in Dennis Pitta who was having a career year.

Let’s face it: This current offense needs a lot more than a temporary jolt that a shotgun play-calling change might provide. It seemingly needs a philosophy change, an almost overhauled receiving group and its best players to be magically healed and on the field, not in the training room. Unfortunately for the Ravens and their fans tired of watching the offense bumble through red zone opportunities and fail to create chunk plays in the passing game, there is not enough time left in the 2022 season for any of those things to occur.

One of the only things that could save this Ravens offense right now is the return of Jackson, and we’re not talking about the Jackson from five or six weeks ago, either. The Ravens need the Jackson who lit up the Los Angeles Rams and pretty much everybody else in 2019, the Jackson who engineered an exhilarating comeback to beat the Indianapolis Colts last year, the Jackson who put the team on his back in Week 3 against the New England Patriots and accounted for 325 yards and five touchdowns.

Realistic trade value and landing spots for veteran QBs: Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr and more - Brad Spielberger

BALTIMORE RAVENS QB LAMAR JACKSONNEW YORK GIANTS

Terms: Giants send 2023 1st, 2024 1st, 2025 1st, 2023 2nd, 2024 3rd

Ravens dead cap: $0

Contract acquired: One year, $45.25 million*

*Projected 2023 quarterback exclusive franchise tender

The Ravens would have to first place a franchise tag on Jackson, which is a near certainty this offseason even if they ultimately come to terms on a multi-year extension after the fact. Jackson has played well in a contract year, leading the team to an 8-3 record before going down with an injury in Week 13.

Jackson’s rushing prowess speaks for itself, with his 136 missed tackles forced since 2019 the top mark among quarterbacks by 45, his .23 missed tackles forced per rush the highest rate and his 134 explosive rushes 50 more than second most. Jackson’s 1,781 rushing yards after contact would rank fifth in total rushing yards among quarterbacks since 2019.

As a passer, Jackson’s 5.1% big-time throw rate since 2019 is sandwiched between Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady over the span and his 2.9% turnover-worthy play rate ranks 11th among qualifying quarterbacks. He is singlehandedly responsible for more offense than arguably any other player in the NFL and is just nine months older than Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett.

Baltimore deserves credit for consistently building out a quality offensive line in front of Jackson but has completely failed to add reliable wide receivers for the majority of his tenure.

Sammy Watkins Has Unfinished Business, Trying to Catch Up Quickly - Ryan Mink

“It’s a blessing,” Watkins said. “Being that I already kind of know from being here before, it’s definitely a great feeling. A lot of familiar faces. I’m really just happy to get back to playing football and be on a great team.

“They gave me a call and I was like, ‘Man, anytime I can play football or get a chance to be on that field, I’m going to come out here and play.’ I just thank the organization for giving me that call and giving me an opportunity.”

The Ravens’ run-heavy offense isn’t going to ask Watkins to put up big numbers, but if he can contribute some key plays in critical times, especially for an offense that has struggled in the red zone, that would be a benefit.

“To get a quality player like him this time of year – it’s almost unheard of,” Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. “It’s not like we’re getting somebody that’s never been here. That’s huge.”

Watkins, 29, hasn’t had the career many imagined when he was drafted fourth overall in 2014 and burst out of the gates with 2,029 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in his first two seasons. But he earned the nickname “Playoff Sammy” for a reason, as he strung together three big games in the 2019 playoffs to help the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl.

2023 Pro Bowl Games snubs: Justin Fields, Tua Tagovailoa among players left out - Eric Edholm

Tyler Linderbaum

Baltimore Ravens · C

The Ravens’ offense has underperformed all year, scoring the fewest points per game (21.7) since Lamar Jackson became the team’s starter in 2019. That unit has looked even worse without Jackson over the past three weeks, scoring just 29 total points since Jackson’s first-quarter exit against Denver.

But don’t blame Linderbaum for the offense’s struggles; the rookie has been playing excellent ball, especially of late.

Turn on the Buccaneers tape from Week 8 for an example of what we’re talking about. The first-rounder takes LB Devin White on about a 7-yard ride on one play. Looking for something more recent? Check out the Pittsburgh game from two weeks ago, when the Steelers moved Cam Heyward over center quite a bit. Linderbaum more than held his own against the three-time All-Pro.

“I think they felt like they were going to test Tyler, and Tyler came through,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said the day after Baltimore’s 16-14 win over their rivals. “(He) had some really phenomenal blocks (and) just continues to improve all the time. So, (I’m) really happy we have him.”

Week 16 NFL picks - Pete Prisco

Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)

The Ravens could have Lamar Jackson back in this one. They need him in the worst way. The passing game is struggling. The Falcons have defensive issues, though, which could help. Desmond Ridder was just OK last week in his first start, and now faces a tougher defense. Ravens win it.

Pick: Ravens 26, Falcons 13