The Ravens should be looking for a wide receiver who has as much name recognition as the production.
One of the leading candidates appears to be free-agent veteran Jarvis Landry, but he signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Friday. Landry’s skill set is comparable to that of second-year Ravens wideout Rashod Bateman, but the biggest difference is that Landry has been in the NFL since 2014 and has 688 career receptions for 7,598 yards. Bateman had taken 46 catches for 515 yards a year ago.
Other than that, they are the same kind of player. After the Ravens traded speedy wide receiver Marquis Brown to the Arizona Cardinals on the first night of the NFL Draft nearly two weeks earlier, he knew he had to find someone who could capture the attention of defensive coordinators when he struck a tight end. Focused on Mark Andrews.
Landry would have been the easiest fix. Now, Ravana is forced to look elsewhere.
Other leading free-agent receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr., Will Fuller V and Julio Jones are still available, but they are not a good fit due to the Ravens’ run-major offense. We’ve seen it before, last year to be exact, when JuJu Smith-Schuster and TY Hilton refused to come to Baltimore and the Ravens signed Sammy Watkins.
Brown left no doubt that he was unhappy with the offense under coordinator Greg Roman, so the Ravens were forced to hit the open market and hope to sign a veteran who would also be a young receiving corps. Can teach
Unfortunately, the list of established players still available is dwindling. Following Landry’s signing, the big names remaining are Beckham, Fuller, Jones, Hilton, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders and Deason Jackson.
Landry will turn 30 in November but he was an annual Pro Bowl selection from 2015 to 2019 with the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns. He is good and has taken some clutch catches in crucial situations, especially against the Ravens. At 5ft 11 and 196 pounds, he is able to slot in or play out, which makes him a primary target for short to mid-range passes. He can also block, which he did a lot for star running back Nick Chubb in Cleveland.
Doesn’t that sound like Bateman?
The 2021 first-round pick isn’t going to blow anyone away at his own pace, but he can occasionally go deep. Bateman could be a possession receiver at third down; At 6-1 and 193 pounds, he can position his body between the ball like a defender and former Ravens receiver Ackwan Boldin. If Bateman were older and more accomplished, a veteran like Landry wouldn’t have been needed, but the 22-year-old isn’t quite that far ahead in his development.
Apart from Andrews, the Ravens have no other proven receivers. Devin DuVernay seems capable and has excellent pace, but has only 53 catches for 473 yards during his two-year career. James Proche II is tough and will prove his worth in the slot one day when he moves on to a more sophisticated offense, but he has played very little in two years. Tylon Wallace is only entering his second year and certainly isn’t ready to share a starting spot or that role.
Ideally, ravens need a person with a fast pace. Brown was not tough and had trouble handling the ball, which made it difficult to catch the ball, but the opposing teams always had to respect his pace. He was not in the class of former Kansas City Chiefs and current Dolphins star Tyrek Hill, but he presented similar challenges.
DuVernay may have the Ravens’ speed, but he doesn’t have an offense coordinator to capitalize on. The Ravens drafted two tight ends in the fourth round, Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar, a sign that they plan to go back to two tight ends. That was when quarterback Lamar Jackson was at his best throw in the middle of the field during his 2019 Most Valuable Player season.
When teams try to take him away, the Ravens need a counter. Struggling with injuries last season, Landry made only 52 catches for 570 yards and two touchdowns for Brown, but there’s no sign he can’t recover. At his age, he was only looking for a short-term deal. He fit the Ravens’ vision of “the right player, the right price”, and was name recognition.
Now it’s back to the drawing board, but it’s clear that the big-name receivers don’t want to come to Baltimore. They can’t be stars.
In this situation, he really has to play like a raven – at least like one of his receivers.