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Ravens News 4/11: Necessary Gamble and more

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Los Angeles Rams v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ravens 2023 free agent signings: Odell Beckham Jr. should elevate Baltimore’s receiving corps - Jamison Hensley

What it means: If Lamar Jackson plays under the nonexclusive franchise tag, the Ravens have given him the most dynamic and accomplished wide receiver in his five NFL seasons. Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowl player, is known for his wide catch radius and unbelievable receptions. Baltimore’s wide receivers have dropped 3.9% of their passes since 2019, which is tied for seventh worst in the league over that span. The Ravens should be getting a highly motivated Beckham, who didn’t play all of last season while recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee that he suffered in Super Bowl LVI, and he returns to the free agent market next season. By adding Beckham, the Ravens don’t have the same urgency to draft a wide receiver in the first round and can fill their need at cornerback.

Ravens got out of character with Odell Beckham deal, but it could be money well spent - Jeff Zrebiec

Here’s the thing, though. Baltimore probably needed to be a little desperate. Its offseason has been a mess, even if team officials don’t want to acknowledge it. The ongoing standoff with Jackson has been equally exhausting, frustrating and debilitating for a team that needed to make significant offseason improvements to close ground on the AFC heavyweights. The Ravens were unable to land a quality veteran quarterback in free agency. They thought they would get standout cornerback Darius Slay, but the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t let him out of the building.

If there was ever a time to be a little impulsive and get out of your comfort zone by offering an above-market deal for an offensive player, this very well may be it.

There’s more. If this pending signing re-energizes (or pacifies) the fan base at a time when season ticket renewals await and quell some of the negativity that has enveloped the franchise, then that’s worth plenty to the team, too. The Ravens haven’t become one of the league’s steadiest organizations by constantly responding to the whims of fans. However, owner Steve Bisciotti, who helped sell Beckham on coming to Baltimore, according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, is a savvy businessman. Bisciotti can’t be pleased with the hits the franchise has been taking nationally and the discontent from the fans locally.

What does Odell Beckham Jr.’s deal mean for the Ravens — and Lamar Jackson — going forward? The impact is myriad. - Brian Wacker

How the Ravens were able to afford Beckham

Going into Sunday, the Ravens had just over $6 million in salary cap space. General manager Eric DeCosta earlier this offseason talked about the need to get creative, and that’s what they did when it came to giving the big money that Beckham was seeking. Of his $15 million deal, $13.835 million came via signing bonus, with just $1.165 million in base salary, according to multiple reports. Beckham could reportedly also make up to $3 million more in incentives. But for 2023, just $3.932 million of Beckham’s deal will count toward this year’s cap, according to Over The Cap, with the four years after that counting as void years.

It’s a tactic that many teams have used but is rare for the Ravens, though they did use them in restructuring the contracts of Michael Pierce, Kevin Zeitler and Gus Edwards this offseason. In Beckham’s case, it could also be costly. If Beckham’s one-year deal isn’t extended before next season, Baltimore will take an $11.1 million dead money hit in 2024.

Odell Beckham Jr. joins Ravens: Where OBJ ranks among all Lamar Jackson’s starting WRs in his NFL career - Jeff Kerr

1. Marquise Brown (2019-2021)

In terms of production, Brown has easily been the best wideout Jackson has ever thrown a pass to in the NFL. A 2019 first-round pick, Brown had 195 catches for 2,361 yards and 21 touchdowns in three seasons in Baltimore.

2. Odell Beckham Jr. (2023)

A healthy Beckham could do wonders for Jackson, knowing he would be the top target at wide receiver. Beckham isn’t the player he used to be, but he’s been better than most of what the Ravens have employed at wide receiver.

3. Nelson Agholor (2023)

Again, this is the state of the Ravens at wide receiver since Jackson has been the starting quarterback — two of the top three on this list joined the Ravens this offseason. Agholor hasn’t been consistent throughout his career, but he’s logged 155 catches for 2,094 yards and 16 touchdowns (13.5 yards per catch) over the last four seasons.

4. Rashod Bateman (2021-2022)

Bateman would be higher on this list if it wasn’t for injury. He’s still had 61 catches for 800 yards and three touchdowns in the 18 games he’s played over his two seasons. The 2021 first-round pick just has to stay on the field, as he’s established himself as a No. 2 wideout in Baltimore when he’s available.

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland | NFL Draft Scouting Report - Ian Cummings

At 6’0″ and almost 200 pounds, Banks has the combined explosiveness, long speed, fluidity, short-area twitch, and foot speed to both match and gather receivers off the line, as well as trail and close gaps in zone. His overall athletic profile is elite, encompassing every tool necessary to cover in the modern NFL.

Banks’ athletic profile is high-end in both quality and completeness, and on top of his physical foundation, he’s an extremely physical competitor who can jar receivers in press, make plays in run support, and use his competitive toughness to contest receivers at the catch point.

Banks’ man technique needs to become more consistent, and he can be a more consistent playmaker — both when getting his eyes on the ball, and when coming upfield in support. Nevertheless, Banks has flashed discipline with his technique, and he has the athletic tools and temperament to eventually become a scheme-versatile impact starter on the boundary with additional development.

2023 NFL Draft: Day 2 fits for all 32 NFL teams - Michael Renner


The Ravens are no stranger to injury-risk picks, doing so last year with Michigan edge David Ojabo. Williams is coming off an ACL tear this past fall, but when he was healthy he had elite foot quicks and versatile coverage prowess.