Ranking 2023 NFL contenders by tiers: AFC headlined by Chiefs, Bengals, Bills entering regular season
Tyler Sullivan, CBS Sports
Tier 2: Wouldn’t be surprised if they made a run (4)
The Baltimore Ravens are a team that I don’t feel is getting enough respect when we talk about possible contenders. They were able to straighten out Lamar Jackson’s contract situation and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him get back to his MVP form, especially with a new offensive coordinator and a refreshed staple of receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr. and first-round rookie Zay Flowers. For all their issues last season and Jackson limited to 12 games, they still went 10-7 (a testament to how good a coach John Harbaugh is) and had a defense that ranked seventh in the league in DVOA. So long as Jackson stays healthy, they’ll be a threat.
Clifton Brown, BaltimoreRavens.com
With Beckham, Bateman, Flowers, Duvernay and Agholor entrenched as the top five receivers, the battle for the sixth and perhaps final wide receiver slot will be intense. Third-year target Tylan Wallace will try to separate himself from the pack, with Proche, Treadwell and others looking to shine. The competition at wide receiver should be intense throughout training camp, and receivers on the bubble will likely get most of the reps during preseason games.
Under the Radar
Agholor had a strong performance during OTAs and minicamp, making contested catches and displaying reliable hands. Jackson and Agholor showed superb timing on several back-shoulder throws, and Agholor took advantage of his extra reps while Bateman was sidelined. Agholor may still face an uphill battle to be targeted frequently on Sundays, but he’s a player to watch heading into camp.
Sam Monson, PFF
7. TODD MONKEN, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Todd Monken is another coordinator who has had stints in the NFL and college levels already. He returns to the professional ranks to take charge of the Baltimore offense and present Lamar Jackson with his first new offense at this level after enjoying so much success under Greg Roman. Monken’s last coordinator role in the NFL was under Freddie Kitchens in Cleveland when the entire season unraveled in a hurry, but he was also in charge when Ryan Fitzpatrick played some of his best football in Tampa Bay. The Georgia Bulldogs’ offense had also been cooking under his tutelage. This is a huge season for Monken, given Jackson’s unique abilities.
Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun
This is more about the Ravens’ approach to a vital position than about Ya-Sin, a young veteran who has been solid in coverage over the last two seasons and slots comfortably across from Marlon Humphrey.
The Ravens could have used a first-round pick on a potential starting cornerback. They could have brought back Marcus Peters, who did not play up to his previous standard in 2022 after returning from a serious knee injury but still carries big-play potential. Instead, they chose a quieter route with Ya-Sin, and for now, at least, they’ll hope a starting nickel back and a few credible backups emerge from the collection of young defensive backs they’ve drafted over the next three years.
If this approach comes back to bite them, Ya-Sin could become a scapegoat for their lack of ambition in filling out a position they have traditionally treated as one of the most important on the roster. Or, he could be a competent cog in a machine that hums along.
Bill Barnwell, ESPN
Have teams gone too far in how they value the position?
I don’t believe so, because we haven’t seen a running back play at a truly high level on his rookie deal and then have his team let that player leave in free agency with no repercussions. The class of 2017 was the test case for whether teams would be willing to move on from a talented back at the end of his rookie deal, but every one of the star backs in that class — Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon — landed an extension. Outside of maybe Cook’s contract, did any of those deals age well?
You can make a case that teams should be willing to consider moving on from even the best backs at the end of their rookie deals. As I referenced here, virtually every one of those significant second contracts for running backs has failed to live up to expectations. NFL contracts are supposed to pay a player for what he’s going to do as opposed to what he has done, and time after time, we’ve seen teams pay backs for the latter and get something significantly less over the second deal.
Art Modell, who brought football back to Baltimore, a semifinalist for consideration into Hall of Fame
Adam Thompson, CBS News
Modell owned teams that produced 28 winning seasons, 28 playoff games, two NFL Championships (1964 and 2000), three other appearances in NFL title contests (1965, 1968, and 1969), and four visits (1986, 1987, 1989, and 2000) to AFC Championships.
He was also influential in launching Monday Night Football, and he chaired the NFL’s Television Committee for 31 years.
Modell died in 2012 at the age of 87.
“Art was a giant in our industry,” Ravens’ Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome said after Modell died. “He was my boss – but he wouldn’t let me call him that – my mentor, and most importantly, my friend. He was the most caring, compassionate person I’ve ever known. The opportunities he gave me are historic, and I will be forever humble and grateful.”
Modell has been denied enshrinement into the Hall of Fame for years.
On August 15, one coach or contributor will be selected for final consideration for the Class of 2024.