Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
Lock: Gus Edwards, Justice Hill
Near lock: J.K. Dobbins
On the bubble: None
Long shot: Keaton Mitchell, Owen Wright
Injuries are, of course, a concern, and Dobbins’ standoff with team officials at minicamp was a red flag. But the Ravens’ top three backs are pretty well established. Dobbins and Edwards have game-breaking potential. Hill is a more-than-capable backup with special teams value. If Mitchell or Wright makes the team, it’s likely because they’re in position to contribute immediately on special teams, too — and perhaps on offense in the not-too-distant future. Only Hill is under contract beyond this season.
Lock: Rashod Bateman, Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers, Nelson Agholor
Near lock: Devin Duvernay
On the bubble: Tylan Wallace, James Proche II, Laquon Treadwell
Long shot: Mike Thomas, Andy Isabella, Shemar Bridges, Dontay Demus Jr., Tarik Black, Sean Ryan
Agholor impressed during offseason workouts, and the Ravens wouldn’t create much cap space with his release: just $1.7 million, according to Over The Cap. Duvernay, meanwhile, represents $4.3 million in potential cap savings, but with his ability as a returner and the group’s shaky injury history, his spot is likely secure.
If the Ravens keep six wide receivers, Wallace’s special teams ability (13.4 snaps per game last season) would make him a good bet to stick around. Proche and Treadwell are both coming off disappointing seasons. The long shots at wide receiver are even longer shots after the front office’s busy offseason.
Gilberto Manzano, Sports Illustrated
Can Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman stay healthy and make plays?
There’s been plenty of buzz about the Ravens’ revamped passing game with the hiring of offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the first-round selection of wide receiver Zay Flowers and Lamar Jackson’s signing a lucrative contract extension.
But this new-look passing attack won’t work if Beckham and Bateman continue to be hampered by injuries.
Beckham hasn’t played in a game since tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl 17 months ago, when his Rams defeated the Bengals.
The Ravens will get a glimpse in training camp of whether Beckham was worth the money in his age-31 season with a lengthy list of injuries. (Beckham signed a one-year deal worth up to $18 million, including a $13.835 million signing bonus.)
Bateman hasn’t played up to expectations since the Ravens drafted him in the first round of 2021. He played in only six games last season and appeared in 12 games as a rookie. But Bateman has flashed in his first two seasons as a versatile 6’2” wideout who can win downfield with size and speed—he’s capable of running a sub-4.4 in the 40-yard dash.
In his prime, Beckam also offered a variety of ways of getting open. We’ll soon learn how explosive this Ravens offense can be with a healthy Beckham and Bateman.
Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun
Solving the wide receiver puzzle
It will be interesting to see how Monken fits this group into the offense. Will Beckham be on the inside, or will it be Flowers? Will Flowers run more short routes because of his explosiveness and big-play ability? That role seemed to belong to third-year wideout Rashod Bateman last year, but he has been bothered by injuries throughout his career. Jackson and Agholor developed nice chemistry this offseason, especially on back-shoulder throws. The knock on Agholor, though, is that he has a history of dropping what should be easy catches.
The Ravens have two good tight ends in Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely, but Likely might be moved outside more often to create mismatches. Somehow, this group has to come together, but there is only one ball to go around. There will be problems at some point this season — that’s predictable. It’s great to upgrade at the position, but divas are still divas. Still, it’s a nice problem to have compared with previous years.
J.K. Dobbins’ reality check
Someone needs to tell Dobbins to get a grip on reality. Everyone knows he wants a lucrative contract extension, but the Ravens are in no rush to offer a new deal to a player who has missed 27 of 50 regular-season games because of injuries. Dobbins has the talent to continue his success, but those images of him pulling up on two potential long runs last year won’t go away. He’s in the same class with Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Queen. If both play well this season, both will get good offers, either from the Ravens or another team. It’s that simple.
Danny Heifetz, The Ringer
The job for people running NFL teams isn’t to hand out money based on past performance (Gettleman aside). It’s to build a team for the future. And looking around the league, it’s clear that drafting running backs high and paying running backs top dollar has been a bad way to build a team. Since 2013, no Super Bowl–winning team has paid its leading rusher more than $2.5 million, and the average salary of the leading rusher on the past 14 Super Bowl teams is just $1.4 million.
This positional devaluation has been brewing since 2011, when the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to essentially delay massive contracts for first-round picks until their fourth, fifth or even sixth year in the league. But by the time running backs have been in the league that long, they are often already declining. When wide receivers, quarterbacks, and defensive ends are turning 26, they’re hitting life-altering paydays as they approach their primes.
As running backs fell through the cracks of a new financial model, a running back’s job, in and of itself, also became less important than ever. Passing supplanted running as the dominant football strategy because coaches have realized the average pass goes 7 yards and the average run goes a little over 4. Not only had the job of the running back been devalued, but it’s also been split among players. Most teams figure they can put together a functional running game by committee, giving 20 percent of the money to a few guys who can replace 90 percent of the production.
Sam Monson, PFF
Injuries in each of the last two seasons keep him this low on the list, but a healthy Lamar is still one of the league’s most dominant weapons. He was in the middle of his best-graded season since his unanimous MVP year when injury took him down last season, and now we get to see what he can achieve in an offense that will be more prepared to let him spread the ball around in the passing game.
With little in the way of elite wide receivers in Baltimore over the past few seasons, Mark Andrews has been the team’s No. 1 receiver and excelled in that role. Travis Kelce is the only tight end in football with more targets, catches, yards and touchdowns over the last three seasons.