The Baltimore Ravens are signing free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year contract worth up to $18 million, according to multiple reports. The New York Jets were among Beckham’s potential suitors, but the Ravens made an aggressive offer that included a fully guaranteed $15 million. The 2023 iteration of the Ravens is beginning to take shape.
The deal represents the conclusion of a 12-month-long saga for Beckham, who didn’t play in the league in 2021 after suffering a serious knee injury in his Super Bowl LVI triumph with the Los Angeles Rams. Prior to signing Beckham, the Ravens were entering the 2023 NFL Draft with a massive need at receiver. They were connected to drafting Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Quentin Johnston with their first-round selection. With Beckham now in the fold as a complement to Rashod Bateman, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta can focus on other areas of need, such as EDGE or cornerback.
DeCosta should now swiftly turn his attention back to Lamar Jackson. The Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, which allows the former MVP quarterback to negotiate with competing franchises who are willing to part with two future first-round picks for his services. Jackson has peculiarly struggled to locate potential suitors, and his long-lasting contract-related standoff with the Ravens continues to drag out slowly. Jackson officially requested a trade away from Baltimore in early March, but it’s done little to speed up his situation.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine Jackson playing elsewhere in 2023 despite the animosity between the two sides. That belief was solidified by Beckham’s addition on Sunday. Surely Beckham vetted the Ravens’ plans at quarterback before signing an extremely lucrative one-year deal with the franchise. Beckham doesn’t want to find himself in a situation similar to his Cleveland Browns experience, where he was frustrated by the lack of high-level quarterback play.
DeCosta also sweetened the pot for Jackson by adding Beckham. A photo of Jackson and Beckham on FaceTime together surfaced via social media just minutes after Beckham joined the Ravens. Reports also emerged that indicated Beckham and Jackson had been discussing teaming up together in Baltimore to win a Super Bowl. The building blocks are being laid down for Jackson’s return to Baltimore.
Baltimore’s passing offense struggled mightily throughout the 2022 campaign. The Ravens finished the regular season having averaged 28th-ranked 178.8 passing yards per contest. While those numbers were negatively impacted by Jackson missing Baltimore’s final five contests, they weren’t much better with a healthy Jackson. Jackson averaged a career-low 6.9 passing yards per attempt. Jackson averaged under 200 passing yards (186.8) per outing.
Adding Beckham should put a positive spin on those numbers. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken has been busy trying to implement a more balanced offense in lieu of a predictable run-heavy approach. Beckham should make Baltimore’s offense more multiple, which in turn makes them a more difficult assignment for opposing defenses.
The Ravens took a massive step toward legitimate contention in 2023 by signing Odell Beckham Jr. One more domino must fall. Jackson’s return will complete a fruitful offseason in Baltimore.
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