Overrated and underrated NFL offseason storylines: Don’t sweat Lamar Jackson’s contract - Jeffri Chadiha
Lamar Jackson’s contract
This is the most obvious place to start, because we all know the Baltimore Ravens star quarterback is going to get paid at some point. Yes, Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contract, during which he’ll make just over $23 million. There also hasn’t been any major rush on the part of either Jackson or the team to reach an agreement on a long-term extension. That doesn’t mean something apocalyptic is going to happen to the Ravens’ franchise, because this has dragged on for a couple offseasons and Jackson isn’t attending OTAs. The team has made it clear it wants to take care of Jackson. Jackson has watched the quarterback market explode this offseason, with Cleveland guaranteeing Deshaun Watson $230 million over the next five years. For all the debate about the risk involved in paying big money to a quarterback who runs as much Jackson does, the reality is that the entire Ravens offense is built around his remarkable skill set. He already has won a league MVP and just last year carried an injury-riddled team through most of the season (until his own injury sidelined him). He deserves every penny he gets. The only question is what number he and the Ravens eventually agree upon.
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If you prefer Burrow here (or higher), we’re not gonna fight you over it. Jackson certainly still has to prove himself as a consistent/big-game passer, especially if his future is tied to a run-heavy system in Baltimore or elsewhere. But there’s just no way most teams wouldn’t love to inject his pure, MVP-level electricity into their lineup. With an underrated arm and lightning-fast speed, he can never be counted out, so long as he’s healthy.
Maybe next year
Ravens OLB Odafe Oweh (23)
Just too old
Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey (26)
Ravens S Marcus Williams (26)
Baltimore’s WR situation, Lamar Jackson’s fantasy outlook and betting odds, 2023 NFL Draft plans, and more - Mike Kaye
Why have the Ravens avoided replacing “Hollywood” Brown at WR?
In truth, the lack of wideout talent fits with what the Ravens hold dear. That’s why the team ignored wide receiver in the draft and drafted tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely to play behind Pro Bowl playmaker Mark Andrews. The team also has veterans Nick Boyle and Josh Oliver as established assets at the position.
Last year, according to Sharp Football Stats, the Ravens lined up in 21 personnel on 22% of their snaps. That percentage was third-highest in the league. The offense also had the highest percentage (14%) of 22 personnel in the league, utilizing two running backs and two tight ends in the same formation more than any other team in the league.
According to Sharp, the Ravens had the second-lowest percentage of three-receiver looks in the league (43%), which fell 18% lower than the NFL average (61%). Limiting the wideout depth chart speaks to the lack of value the position has in the offense.
So, while the Ravens’ offense doesn’t look like it’ll be incredibly explosive because of its wideout woes, the decision of the depth chart is very much predicated on Jackson’s experience and strengths within the offense. Jackson likes targeting his RBs and TEs and setting them up for YAC opportunities. Instead of taking low-percentage shots down the field, the Ravens would prefer for Jackson to use his legs and his safety-net weapons to keep the offense flowing.
Brown has been the Ravens’ top wide receiver since he was drafted in 2019. He posted 1,008 receiving yards last season with a whopping 146 targets (10th-most in the league). Last season, Proche and fellow 2020 draft pick Devin Duvernay saw a combined 67 targets.
In short, the door is open for this year’s wideouts. Last year’s first-round pick, Rashod Bateman, will get many more looks. Proche and Duvernay are next in line, as well as second-year wideout Tylan Wallace.
“A lot of opportunity. Blank slate,” Proche said. “I paint the picture whatever way I want it, whatever way we want it as a team. … Earn your respect every day. Work at it, be consistent. Nobody is going to give you anything.”
Last season, Proche notched 16 catches on 20 targets. His final game was the blowout loss in Cincinnati, but Proche had his best game yet, hauling in seven of eight targets for 76 yards. That gave him a boost going into the offseason, and now he’s looking to show he can do a lot more.
“I always had Year 3 planned on to be my year. … Year 3, that’s when they say, ‘Are you going to be in the league for a long time or not?’ Right now, I’m just trying to prove myself that I belong here for the long run. It’s the year.”
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J.K. Dobbins wins Comeback Player of the Year
I love this cat. I thought Baltimore stole him late in Round 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft, and spent much of that offseason gassing him up. Then he went out and averaged a robust 6.0 yards per carry as a rookie, only furthering my infatuation.
Thus, I was crushed for him, the Ravens and football fans in general when he tore his ACL last August in the Ravens’ preseason finale. But I think he bounces back with a monster season in 2022. As I’ve said time and again, the 5-foot-10, 212-pounder was put on Earth to run the rock for the Ravens. Dobbins was a part of Baltimore’s hellacious injury toll in 2021. In 2022, he and the rest of the team get back to playing Ravens football.