Ravens News 5/9: Extracting Value

May 9, 2024

Denver Broncos v Detroit Lions

Ravens love late offseason free-agent signings, and plenty of options are available

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

Justin Simmons, S

A two-time Pro Bowl selection with 30 career interceptions, Simmons might be the top free agent at any position still available. If the 30-year-old is looking for another nice payday and a guaranteed starting job, Baltimore probably isn’t the place for him. However, if he’s trying to chase a ring and is intent on joining a top-flight defense, signing with the Ravens would make sense. The Ravens use a ton of three-safety looks, and having a guy like Simmons would give defensive coordinator Zach Orr the freedom to move Hamilton around. There are a ton of accomplished veteran safeties still available, including Micah Hyde, Quandre Diggs, Eddie Jackson and Marcus Maye. Simmons is probably the best of them all.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR

Much to the dismay of many of their fans, the Ravens aren’t acting like a team intent on adding wide receiver help. The Ravens seem content with a top four of Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor and rookie Devontez Walker, and then allowing Tylan Wallace, Deonte Harty and a group of younger receivers to compete for a potential spot. If, however, they opt to bring in another veteran, Valdes-Scantling has the size (6-foot-4, 206 pounds) and big-play ability (17.0 yards per catch in his career) to be an intriguing option.

2024 NFL draft winners, losers: Players impacted by rookie picks

Bill Barnwell, ESPN

Winner: Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens

Things have never really come together for Bateman, as the 2021 first-round pick has endured a stop-start career because of injuries. He has missed 17 games over his first three seasons, and though he was a starter for most of last season, he split time with Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor as the second wideout for Lamar Jackson. After playing more than 80% of the snaps in each of Baltimore’s final four games in 2021, Bateman has topped that figure once over the ensuing two seasons.

The Ravens have been surprisingly optimistic and sanguine about Bateman’s chances of making an impact in 2024, however, as John Harbaugh has stated he expects the 24-year-old to take a big step forward next season. Harbaugh & Co. have followed that up with their moves during the offseason; they let Beckham leave for the Dolphins, and their only addition to the wide receiver rotation was fourth-round pick Devontez Walker, who might project as more of a downfield option than an immediate threat to start.

Bateman has every incentive to break through. In lieu of making a decision on his fifth-year option, the Ravens signed him to a two-year extension that basically paid him a $1.3 million bonus on top of the $2.7 million he was already guaranteed for 2024 for the right to pay him a total of $10.8 million across 2025 and 2026. That’s a bargain for any sort of impactful receiver, and none of the money after 2024 is guaranteed, so the Ravens would be in line to extract significant value if he does break out. More realistically, a breakthrough season for Bateman would likely push them back to the negotiating table for a new extension.

The ‘Superpower’ That Made Nate Wiggins the Ravens’ Pick

Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com

“I look at Nate as great feet, speed, coverability,” DeCosta said. “Guys don’t get open against him. He can just flat-out cover; that’s really important. His superpower is when he’s covering a guy, there’s going to be very little space.”

“There’s this perception that Nate is this skinny, skinny guy,” DeCosta said. “I don’t look at it as much of a problem. I think there’s an opportunity to get him stronger; I think we do a good job of that. I saw a guy that was a competitive player. I saw a guy that wanted to be a physical player. Getting stronger is only going to help his game. If you love his game right now, you have to be really excited about what he could be.”

“I think Wiggins can easily play inside,” DeCosta said. “I think Wiggins has a great skillset as well outside because I think he can cover a team’s best receiver and most teams will have their best receiver outside. But I think we’ll have great flexibility.”

DeCosta said he thinks Humphrey, Wiggins, T.J. Tampa (big nickel), safety Kyle Hamilton, and veteran nickel cornerback Arthur Maulet, who the team re-signed this offseason, can all play inside.

“What we’ve done is build a nice combination of players that can play multiple spots, which I think is going to give opposing offenses a tough time,” DeCosta said.

For Ravens Fourth-Round Pick T.J. Tampa, Switch To Corner At Iowa State Pays Dividends

Kyle Johnson, PressBox

Learning a new position at the college level was not something Tampa envisioned during his football journey, but it may have been the turning point he needed to get to the next level.

“It was crazy. It happened on a visit that I took to Iowa State,” Tampa explained. “It was strictly all receivers. I never had any corner conversations or anything. I went on a visit. My flight got delayed and I went to the camp the next day because why not?

“I did everything at receiver, then one-on-ones came. I knew a corner already there from my city and he was like, ‘Come get some reps,’ so I did some one-on-one reps at corner. A couple weeks later, I got a call from [head coach Matt Campbell]. He was like, ‘Would you mind playing it?’ I was like no, so I took it and ran with it.”

Hailing from St. Petersburg, Fla., Tampa earned first-team All-Big 12 and third-team Associated Press All-America honors in 2023. He also received second-team All-Big 12 accolades during as a junior in 2022.

2024 NFL QB Power Rankings: Brock Purdy, Jordan Love crack top 10 in first post-draft pecking order

Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

6. Lamar Jackson

His return to elite form in 2023 ended with a relative whimper, but that doesn’t change the fact he remains one of the league’s toughest players to defend on a down-to-down basis. Dual-threat home runs are effortless to him. Derrick Henry should aid on the ground, too.

NFL Schedule Predictions: Chiefs Draw Jim Harbaugh in Opener, Caleb Williams Plays on Thanksgiving, and More

Dakota Randall, Pro Football Network

What Will Be the 2 Christmas Games?

Prediction: Browns at Ravens; Falcons at Vikings

The Cleveland-Baltimore game could have major playoff ramifications, as the AFC North rivals should be among the conference’s top teams. The Browns have one of the best rosters in football, and the Ravens, you know, have Lamar Jackson. Plus, prime-time games in Baltimore always seem to carry extra juice.

When’s the Harbaugh Bowl?

Prediction: Week 9 Monday Night Football

A Super Bowl rematch 11 years in the making. Brothers Jim and John Harbaugh last coached against each other on Feb. 3, 2013, when John’s Ravens beat Jim’s 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

Baltimore will visit the Chargers sometime next season, so we’ll finally get the long-awaited sequel.