Why the Lamar Jackson-Ravens contract stalemate sparks emotional reactions - Alejandro Danois
At this juncture of the impasse, Ravens fans who are ardent supporters of Jackson are fearing what once seemed unfathomable: Jackson actually playing for another franchise three years after being the youngest MVP in NFL history during his first season as a starter.
“Lamar is a generational talent and when he steps on the field, he’s the best athlete and the most exciting player out there,” said Bobby Sabelhaus, the former prep All-American at McDonogh in 1994 who was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the country at the time. “He’s the Michael Jordan of football. And the question is, can the Ravens field excellent teams over the next few years with a shot of winning a Super Bowl or two without Lamar? I don’t think so.”
Let’s set aside the fact that without Jackson, the Ravens are appreciably inferior to the AFC’s best teams: Kansas City, Buffalo and Cincinnati, who each have their own exceptional franchise quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow, respectively. It’s incomprehensible to think that the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals would open the door to even the slimmest possibility of parting ways with those guys. And it’s beyond bizarre to see the Ravens doing just that.
“The success that the Ravens have enjoyed over the last few years is directly attributable to Lamar’s rare talent,” Maybin said. “You take him out of the equation, and they would have been a losing team over the past few years.”
NFL free agency: Additions, subtractions, what’s left for each team - Jamison Hensley
Marquee additions: None
Did the Ravens hit their free agency goals? No. The Ravens want to upgrade their wide receiver group, and they need to find a replacement at starting cornerback for free agent Marcus Peters. Baltimore is one of two teams that has yet to sign a free agent from another team. But it’s difficult for the Ravens to make any major moves when quarterback Lamar Jackson’s $32.4 million franchise tag accounts for nearly 15% of their salary cap.
One thing we heard: Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey took to social media to try to address Baltimore’s biggest need at wide receiver and created some buzz by mentioning a former division rival. “OBJ looks like a Raven to me is all I’m saying.”
Biggest remaining roster hole:Wide receiver. Even if Jackson returns, who is he throwing the ball to on the outside? Rashod Bateman is coming off foot surgery that caused him to miss the last nine games of the season. The other six wide receivers on Baltimore’s roster have never caught more than 40 passes in a season. The problem is the Ravens have limited cap room in free agency and one selection among the first 85 picks in the draft.
Harbaugh said the infrastructure of a strong offense is in place, with quarterback Lamar Jackson, a strong running game led by J.K. Dobbins, a deep tight end group led by All-Pro Mark Andrews and an improved offensive line.
“The one area that needs to be built,” Harbaugh said, “is the wide receiver room.”
The Ravens went 10-7 in 2022 and lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the playoffs. They ranked No. 2 in the league in rushing but No. 28 in passing, averaging 178.8 yards per game through the air. Wide receivers accounted for less than half of that.
DeCosta essentially banked on Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay staying healthy and homegrown receivers James Proche and Tylan Wallace emerging. None of that happened.
DeCosta could also explore a trade for an established star, something that paid big dividends for the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. They gave up first-round picks and more to acquire Stefon Diggs and A.J. Brown, respectively. The Ravens reportedly made a run at DeAndre Hopkins a few years ago, and he could be on the trade block again, though the three-time All-Pro is due nearly $20 million in 2023.
Ravens 2023 NFL Draft big board 2.0: Pipe dreams, logical picks, best players available - Jeff Zrebiec
At some point, the Ravens will sign or trade for a veteran receiver and cornerback, but that won’t necessarily impact their “big board” too much. The Ravens likely need to add at least one starting-caliber veteran and a promising rookie at both spots.
The Ravens do stick to their draft board, so it would be foolish to dismiss the idea of them picking an outside linebacker or an interior offensive or defensive lineman when they are on the clock at No. 22. But with only five picks, this more than usual feels like a draft where they focus on needs.
Best players available
Brian Branch, DB, Alabama (No. 16): Branch played a lot of safety at Alabama, but many evaluators feel his best role in the NFL will be in the nickel spot. He’s an extremely talented and useful player, and the Ravens love versatile defensive backs.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (No. 6): The Ravens are not afraid to make an unconventional pick, and they are not one of the teams that devalue running backs. However, given their needs and what they already have at the position, taking Robinson would be a bold decision.
O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida (No. 28): Torrence was one of the most effective players on the field during Senior Bowl week, an event the Ravens put a lot of stock into. A guard isn’t the Ravens’ biggest need, but finding a plug-and-play replacement for Ben Powers would still be a positive.
2023 NFL free agency: Ranking all 32 teams for their offseason moves, signings, trades and more - Cody Benjamin
Barring a major turn of events, these teams should struggle to move forward in good conscience thanks to what’s transpired.
There’s really no other place to put the Ravens until they resolve the NFL’s most dramatic QB situation this side of Aaron Rodgers. Maybe they were smart to use the non-exclusive tag on Lamar Jackson, allowing the rest of the league to negotiate for them. Or were they? Jackson may be more disenchanted with the idea of staying in Baltimore long term than ever before. The former MVP is a rare, if recently fragile, talent at a critical position. If he’s not back, what’s the next step? The Ravens have predictably done virtually nothing to address other holes (WR, OLB, CB, S) in the meantime.