The Baltimore Ravens traded Marquise Brown on draft night and many expected a different wide receiver acquisition to follow soon after, but that never happened. Instead, Rashod Bateman is expected to grab hold of the No. 1 wide receiver role in 2022 and the Ravens still have Mark Andrews, but the team needs more depth.
Here are three players general manager Eric DeCosta could go sign in free agency right now to improve the Ravens’ pass-catching core.
Cole Beasley finds new home in Baltimore
Cole Beasley is now 33 years old, which likely contributes to why he’s still available as a free agent. Another reason likely unfortunately has to do with his off-field comments and actions which created a distraction during the season. But based on his production alone, there’s no reason for Beasley to still be on the open market.
- Cole Beasley stats: 82 catches, 693 receiving yards, 1 TD in 2021
Last season’s numbers were a step back from the previous season in which Beasley racked up 967 yards, but the emergence of Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox likely contributed to some of his regression. Beasley finished with just 50 fewer yards after catch from the previous season, and while he dropped five passes, his 73.2% catch percentage still tops all other Ravens starting receivers from a year ago.
Beasley doesn’t have the speed or game-breaking ability that can be found in younger receivers at this stage in his career, but he is a dependable player with reliable hands. That should still hold some value to NFL offenses.
Odell Beckham Jr. gets his revenge in AFC North
Chances are, Odell Beckham Jr. will return to the Los Angeles Rams when he feels his knee is ready following offseason ACL surgery. Returning for another year appears to be a perfect fit. Yet, there might not be enough targets to go around in L.A. after also adding Allen Robinson in free agency.
If Beckham Jr.’s priorities are to play for a competitive team that can also offer a decent target share, landing in Baltimore as the No. 2 wide receiver behind Bateman, and also behind Mark Andrews could be an ideal home.
OBJ would be able to face his old Cleveland Browns team twice a season with the Ravens, giving him an opportunity to show his former squad what they gave up on. Beckham Jr. has already played in a run-dominant offense, though not with a scrambling QB like Lamar Jackson. He might not like it compared to a typical dropback passer, but then again, he might prefer the chance to try something unique.
- Odell Beckham Jr. stats: 44 catches, 537 receiving yards, 5 TDs in 2021
It was clear that the 29-year-old receiver still has plenty in his gas tank after starring throughout the playoffs. Maybe the Ravens will be the team who benefits from the growing chip on OBJ’s shoulder later this year.
Julio Jones joins Lamar Jackson
Another big-name player who’s shockingly still available after being let go from the Tennessee Titans is seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones. Likely the biggest reason why the 33-year-old former All-Pro is still on the open market is due to his recent injury history, having missed 13 games in his past two seasons.
- Julio Jones stats: 31 catches, 434 receiving yards, 1 TD
When healthy, Jones is a massive target for quarterbacks at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. His frame also serves as a good platform to be a run blocker, which theoretically should make him a strong fit in the Ravens’ offense.
Then again, Jones simply may not be interested in blocking that much at this stage in his career, preferring to avoid the additional wear-and-tear, aiming to keep his energy focused on making plays in the passing game. But if there’s mutual interest, the Ravens might not be able to do any better than Jones, who has over 13,000 receiving yards in his 11-year career.