Can the Ravens Make Hay with OBJ?
Photo Credit: Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Before today, there was a pretty compelling argument to be made that no team in the NFL was having a worse offseason than the Baltimore Ravens. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are some awkward QB-situations and then there are some potentially atrocious QB-situations, but no team combines awkward with potentially atrocious like the Ravens. If you’re a Ravens fan, how do you like the idea of this depth chart?
QB1: Tyler Huntley
QB2: Anthony Brown
Inactive: Lamar Jackson
This is a real possibility. Negotiations between Jackson and the Ravens appeared to have soured – particularly after Jackson hung head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta out to dry with a whammy of a trade request just a couple weeks ago. It would still be a shocker to see Jackson sit out a year instead of returning to the Ravens on the franchise tag, but until today, that sentiment seemed to be getting stronger every minute. Finally, the Ravens put a Band-aid on the situation.
With Jackson still in limbo, the Ravens had not been too active on the free agency market, unless you count adding notorious drop-artist Nelson Agholor to an extremely underwhelming wide receiver unit. In fact, count that as a reason Jackson’s been so pissed. Maybe today’s signing of Odell Beckham, Jr. was a step toward rectifying that initial mistake. On a one-year, $15 million deal, the Ravens secured the services of the 30-year-old, two-time All Pro wide receiver. Job well done – now all that’s left to do is find out if he can still play.
Beckham is…you could say…damaged goods. That seems pretty safe considering he didn’t play at all in 2022 while recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in Super Bowl LVI. Beckham was an elite, spectacular, once-in-a-generation type talent in his heyday, but we're arguably seven years removed from his prime – and that’s not even factoring into account the knee injury! Given his age, his now-two ACL tears, and his already-declining production, it’s fair to say that Beckham’s best days are behind him.
Still, it’s impossible not to view this signing as an appeal to Jackson. It’s like the Ravens, through Beckham, were trying to say, “We’ve screwed up. We should have never assumed Nelson Agholor meant anything to you. We know you’re upset we won’t meet your contract demands. We understand. Here’s a one-legged OBJ.” On second thought, maybe this doesn’t change anything.
Take a look at the Ravens’s wide receiver depth chart.
WR1: Rashod Bateman - talented third-year player, but has not been able to stay on the field
WR3: Devin Duvernay - top-notch returner, not-top-notch receiver
WR4: Nelson “Drop It Like It’s Hot” Agholor
I don’t know if Harbaugh and DeCosta have seen The Godfather or not, but in terms of receiving-talent offers, this ain’t it.
That’s why, in the end, the signing of OBJ doesn’t really move the needle much for Lamar Jackson. There are still too many variables. Too many loose ends. Too much risk for a former MVP to put another year of wear and tear on his body for less than top-of-the-market money. OBJ is a good player – and a household name – but he doesn’t solve the Ravens’s issues at receiver. He mitigates them, but Jackson isn’t looking for mitigation. He’s looking for $200 million guaranteed. At best, OBJ brings that number down like, what, $50 bucks?
There’s still a long road ahead for Jackson and the Ravens. If this is really about the principle and not the money, then Jackson sitting out is still on the table. And if the Ravens really won’t meet Jackson’s contract demands and hope he eventually signs the tag, they’re going to have to do a hell of a lot more than just add Odell Beckham, Jr.