Solving The Ravens Wide Receiver Conundrum

The Baltimore Ravens have embarked on yet another off-season adventure wherein finding a number 1 receiver is the main quest. They have failed so far in this young new league year. They’ve hosted some guys, offered contracts left and right, even outbid some other teams. But this hasn’t been enough.

The team is still firmly implanted on a search for the guy who’s going to take Lamar Jackson to the next level. The run-heavy scheme doesn’t help matters. There are definitely some reasons for concern. But the sky’s not falling in Baltimore. Let’s look at why.

There’s still time left…

Hello! It’s only been a couple of weeks into free agency, yet half the Twitterverse and real-world is acting like it’s all over. The rosters are set? Nope! The team’s got time, and the team will have some more options, the more time passes.

Think about all the teams that select wideouts in the draft. Sure, we hope the Ravens do. But even if they don’t, teams that do will have no option but to release some guys for salary cap shedding purposes. So trust in the lengthy off-season process, and wait it out. You can’t call for a GM’s job until they’ve had the luxury of a full off-season to be judged on.

Sammy Watkins Time

Now look, it’s funny because the ravens flock out there want the team to do something to address the problem. Yet, there are certain names that the fan base can’t rally around. For some reason, one of them is Sammy Watkins. What is the fan base not seeing? This is a guy coming from a winning organization in the Kansas City Chiefs. If you go back to the previous season, 2019, when the Chiefs won it all you’d see Watkins played a pivotal post-season role.

Where have the Ravens struggled the most? The post-season. Not only did Watkins play well in the playoffs, but he showed up with big-time contested catches. It’s a little Boldin-esque, in terms that you Ravens fans out there might better understand.

Not only did he play big, but this is a guy who came into the league with huge potential. He’s only 27, he’s not the old-aged retread the Ravens tend to sign. He’s a guy with monumental upside. The thing keeping him from reaching that level is his injury history.

But just because a guy has had one and had an injury-riddled campaign the last season, doesn’t mean he will this next season. If signed to a fair contract that reflects and rewards him for his playing time, there’s no real danger. Just tons of promising potential. The guy’s also familiar with the new WR coach in Baltimore. He’s been his personal coach before. That won’t go unnoticed. Give him a shot, Ravens’ flock.

Rashod Bateman to the Rescue?

Let’s say a snag hits negotiations with Watkins. Although he visited with the Ravens this week, it ended without a contract. Reports suggest he’s still a man of interest for the team. But he did visit the much cap-richer team in the Colts this week as well. So whether it’s money or fit-related, there’s still a chance it doesn’t work out. Though, the team should hope it does.

If it doesn’t though, a guy from Minnesota by the name of Rashod Bateman should be the fanbase’s next obsession. The Ravens have faced draft night heartbreak in the form of not getting a targeted WR before. The Cowboys was trading up for Dez back in the day, the Mike Evans dream scenario that didn’t pan out in 2014, and most recently Corey Davis had talked about a good team visit before being taken by the Titans way too early on in that draft.

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That hat shouldn’t deter the fan base from reaching for the stars and hoping for a Jackson to Bateman connection. The Minnesota product has the exact size and character the ravens should be targeting. he’ll also come in a cheaper rookie deal than a free agent acquisition, and be more willing to play as a rookie looking to make a name for themselves in the league. Watch his highlights, you will come away impressed.

Cuts & Trades

There’s still so much we don’t know about this off-season. You just can’t predict some of the transactions that happen in the NFL. So, there’s no reason to give up hope or jump ship for Ravens fans. If anything, the well-known pursuits of the front office to land a guy like JuJu or TY should show they’re all in on getting another receiver, and someone who vastly improves the group overall.

Whether that comes from a straight-up cut or traded, there are avenues to explore. Guys like Allen Robinson, Michael Gallup, Courtland Sutton, or DJ Chark might eventually be available via trade. And the Ravens have a young pro-bowl left tackle as ammunition. The second wave of cuts in the off-season could bring some new faces to the talent pool too. So give it a sec.

Bottom Line

There’s a chance this whole off-season skepticism is warranted. But we should bet the house on Eric DeCosta getting it done. After all, he has been the GM for two years now and both have ended with the Ravens in the playoffs. Contrary to popular belief, the Ravens had a better 2020 than 2019, as Lamar got that first playoff win. The front office knows that the next step is the passing game evolving, at least we sure hope so. They will do what it takes to get that guy whether it means spending money, exhausting draft capital, or spending that draft capital. We’ll see what happens. See you in July, Ravens flock.