By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own
After another disappointing playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Baltimore Ravens head into another offseason that will be crucial for them. They only have quarterback Lamar Jackson under contract until 2022, however, it’s been reported that a contract extension could come this offseason. Even if they extend him, they also need to get him some help.
Arguably the biggest need for the Ravens is a wide receiver, and this offseason should present them with some good options to choose from. Let’s take a look at who the Ravens should target to fill this position.
If the Ravens want to give Jackson a true number one receiver, Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson should be targeted. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league and has had success despite mediocre, at best, quarterbacks for most of his career. He has three seasons with over 1,000 yards while catching passes from quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky. If he can put up these numbers with bad quarterback play, imagine what he could do with a great one like Jackson.
Baltimore is projected to have about $20 million in cap space, but if they let go of running back Mark Ingram as expected, that will give them around another $5 million to spend on someone like Robinson. Last year Robinson made about $14 million, and if he asks for a similar salary, I think he’s worth it. He’s had success on two teams so far and also has played in a run-first offense in Jacksonville. It’s likely that there will be a few other teams interested in him, but I think the Ravens should be really aggressive to try and get him. He’s the best receiver available in free agency, and bringing him in would say a lot about the trust and commitment they have in succeeding with Jackson.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis is not the caliber player that Robinson is, but he’s also very underrated and would be a great addition to Baltimore’s offense. Given his numbers and low salary if the Ravens can’t get Robinson I think he would be a great plan B. In 2020 Davis had 65 catches for 984 yards and five touchdowns. Baltimore fans know that the Titans are a run-first team led by running back Derrick Henry. The main risk with Davis is that he’s got a history of injuries. This seems to be a common theme amongst the other top receivers available, so Baltimore is likely going to have to take a chance on someone if they can’t get Robinson.
In 2020 Davis made about $4 million, because of his injury history he likely won’t be able to ask for much more. For that price and for someone with the potential Davis has, I think it’s worth the risk. I think the Ravens should try and offer a one or two year deal with minimal guarantees, if he accepts then it’s a low risk and high reward contract. Baltimore’s front office is one of the best in the league, if they like the upside of Davis I wouldn’t be surprised if they take a chance.
The Ravens have the 27th pick in this year’s draft. One of the wide receivers that has been projected to them is Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Terrace Marshall. He played in seven games in 2020 and finished with 48 receptions for 731 yards and ten touchdowns. After watching some of his highlights, he reminds me of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. He isn’t going to beat you with his speed, he’s going to beat you with his size. He has good speed for his size, but it’s not like Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf. He is a similar-sized receiver to Marshall but a freak of nature with his speed. I don’t think Marshall is that good yet but he will be effective at the next level.
Baltimore’s tallest wide receiver is Miles Boykin at 6-foot-4. He’s a good supplementary piece but not a number one receiver. What Marshall would provide is that size but also the skillset of a number one receiver. I think he makes the Ravens better and gives Jackson the top receiver he’s lacked since arriving in Baltimore. It also doesn’t hurt that he comes from LSU which is arguably the top college for producing NFL-caliber receivers.
The Ravens have a lot of young receivers but none that have shown the signs of being able to step up and become a number one threat yet. Wide receiver Marquise Brown was picked in the first round a few years ago, he’s shown flashes but also struggled with drops. If Baltimore wants to capitalize on their talented roster, they need to give their quarterback a true number one target. I think they need to sign someone in free agency and take a receiver early in the draft. If they don’t, they are unlikely to take the next step and reach the AFC Championship.