Wide receivers and the Baltimore Ravens have not been an ideal pairing over the last two decades. Since the franchise moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996, the Ravens have never drafted a Pro Bowl wide receiver and have two 1,000-yard seasons from wide receivers the organization drafted (Torrey Smith and Marquise Brown).
There's a reason why the Ravens have gone the free agent route to find good wideouts, starting with Derrick Mason in the mid-2000s and Steve Smith in the mid-2010s. Mason had four 1,000-yard seasons since signing with the Ravens in 2015 at the age of 31, while Smith logged 1,065 yards in his first year with the Ravens at the age of 35.
Qadry Ismail also had two 1,000-yard seasons with the Ravens after landing in Baltimore as a free agent in 1999, yet the Ravens still were unable to have a Pro Bowl wide receiver on their roster.
This is the situation Odell Beckham Jr. is walking into after signing a one-year deal with the Ravens worth $15 million guaranteed. Like Mason and Smith, Beckham is a former Pro Bowler who lands with the Ravens -- another hope for a franchise that has gotten production from veteran free agents in the past.
Beckham hasn't made a Pro Bowl since 2016 or logged a 1,000-yard season since 2019, yet the Ravens feel him becoming a No. 1 wide receiver again (in target share) will be the career resurgence for a player entering his age-30 season.
Is the addition of Beckham enough to convince Lamar Jackson to stay in Baltimore? There are significant ramifications toward the Ravens signing Beckham, and Jackson's future with the franchise -- and might impact multiple teams.
Jackson and Beckham were in contact
Jacksonjoining the Ravens, even if the team's franchise quarterback isn't currently under contract nor has signed his non-exclusive franchise tag with the team. Not only did the Ravens quarterback post a picture of him Facetiming with Beckham on Instagram, but Beckham shared a photo of his son, Zydn, wearing a Ravens jersey with Jackson's No. 8 -- announcing he was heading to Baltimore.
The Ravens have certainly appeased Jackson by getting Beckham to Baltimore. This could be the move that gets Jackson to return to the Ravens, after all.
Best WR group Jackson has ever played with
This is more of an indictment of what Jackson has had to work with at wide receiver over the years, yet the position is significantly improved with Beckham. If Rashod Bateman can stay healthy in 2023, Baltimore has a decent 1-2 punch with Beckham and Bateman on the outside.
The Ravens also added Nelson Agholor to be the slot receiver, a role he's thrived in over the years. This is arguably Baltimore's best trio of wideouts since Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown in 2018 (again that's not saying much).
Baltimore still needs more depth at the position, but the trio of Beckham, Bateman and Agholor makes the position formidable. Perhaps the Ravens will rank higher than last amongst yardage from wide receivers in 2023.
The Ravens can get better at WR even with this group
Beckham's signing is considered a luxury for the Ravens, who are expected to target a wide receiver early in this draft. Unfortunately for the Ravens, the 2023 wide receiver class isn't the greatest. Drafting one of the top wideouts would give the Ravens time to develop that player while relying on the veterans to lead the wide receiver group.
Baltimore could still land an impactful wideout, even if his targets may not be high right away. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison or Zay Flowers would be excellent players in this rotation.
Ravens actually spending money at WR
Beckham will earn $15 million guaranteed from the Ravens this offseason. They are spending more money on one player than they have on the entire wide receiver position in any of the last five offseasons.
Baltimore spent just $7.6 million at wide receiver last offseason, which was last in the NFL. The Ravens haven't spent more than $14.4 million on the wide receiver position in an offseason since 2018 (Jackson's rookie year), never ranking higher than 22nd at spending at the position during that span.
The Ravens have spent $18.25 million at wide receiver between Beckham and Agholor. While it isn't as much as other franchises, it's a sign the Ravens are actually willing to spend to improve the position. A step in the right direction.
Baltimore still has Mark Andrews
With all this wide receiver discussion in Baltimore, it's easy to forget the Ravens have one of the best receiving tight ends in the game in Andrews. The three-time Pro Bowl tight end had 73 catches for 847 yards and five touchdowns last season, a year removed from logging 107 catches for 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021.
Andrews has the second-most catches (302), receiving yards (3,761) and receiving touchdowns (31) by a tight end since the start of the 2019 season -- trailing only Travis Kelce. He's a playmaker in a Ravens offense who needs production outside of Jackson.
Add Andrews and Isaiah Likely at tight end to a wide receiver group of Beckham, Agholor and Bateman and the Ravens have a pass-catching group that can be enough to appease Jackson for 2023.
What about Aaron Rodgers to the Jets?
Beckham signing with the Ravens doesn't affect Rodgers and his aspirations to be with the Jets in 2023 at all. Sure, Beckham was on his way to visit the Jets, but the Ravens gave him the money he just couldn't ignore -- even if Jackson may not be back.
The Jets are still fine at wide receiver with Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard, who signed with New York to a four-year deal last month. Lazard was arguably Rodgers' favorite target in Green Bay not named Davante Adams, so Rodgers will have some familiarity when he eventually gets traded to the Jets.
New York has a wide receiver group of Wilson, Lazard, Corey Davis and Mecole Hardman. Where was Beckham going to fit in that picture and get the targets he craves? The Jets also weren't giving him $15 million for 2023, either.
Rodgers will still end up with the Jets. Beckham would have been just a luxury for them at this point. The Ravens needed him.