The Baltimore Ravens won 14 games in 2019. However, Derrick Henry is the lasting image in the minds of Baltimore’s fanbase. Baltimore has addressed issues defensively with the acquisition of Calais Campbell via trade and Derek Wolfe in free agency. They also shored up the linebacking corps through the draft.
Offensively, the 2020 Ravens will be very similar to the 2019 version. Lamar Jackson will be at the helm with Mark Ingram at his side most of the time until J.K. Dobbins gets up to speed in an NFL offense. The main targets in 2020 will be tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Marquise Brown. Beyond the top two targets, Jackson will look to the likes of Nick Boyle and Miles Boykin. Rookie receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche will also help the passing offense. However, Baltimore should sign Antonio Brown.
Many have one name linked to Baltimore for the entire off-season: Antonio Brown. The former Steeler, Raider, and Patriot has had a tumultuous 18 months. Pittsburgh originally traded Brown to the Buffalo Bills, but the deal fell through after its announcement. The Steelers then shipped Brown off to Oakland to join the Raiders. Brown forced his way out of town, never playing with the Raiders. He played one game with the Patriots, catching a touchdown, but the Patriots soon released Brown.
Brown may be a head case off the field, but he is a no-doubt future Hall of Famer. Brown is one of the most productive receivers in NFL history. He has put himself in the company of very few wide receivers with his consistency and play at his peak. Even if Brown were not at his peak, he would be the best receiver the Ravens have ever had.
The Ravens have a tight-knit community of players, and they would not accept the diva tendencies of Brown. Just weeks ago, the Ravens released pro bowl safety, Earl Thomas, for conduct detrimental to the team. The Ravens would likely not tolerate any of Brown’s shenanigans off the field.
However, the counter to the “Brown is a head case” narrative is that the Ravens would be one of the situations that Brown could likely thrive in. Brown would be the unquestioned number one option in the Baltimore passing offense. He would also join his cousin, Marquise Brown, in the wide receiver room. Brown worked out with Jackson and Marquise Brown over the off-season, and they seemed to develop some rapport with each other.
Baltimore’s team-first mentality may not be the perfect fit for Brown. However, if he sacrifices his brand to win games, Baltimore would be Brown’s best chance of winning a Super Bowl. Despite all of his accolades, Brown has only made the Super Bowl once. If Brown were to join the Ravens, Baltimore would likely move closer to the Chiefs in realistic Super Bowl contention. While the Chiefs are likely better because Patrick Mahomes exists, the Ravens would be that much closer to matching Kansas City.
The Elephant in the Room:
Signing Brown comes with the caveat that he will miss the first eight games due to a suspension from the NFL. Going to a situation like Baltimore could be advantageous for Brown as he learns the system for eight weeks and develops a rapport with Jackson while still suspended. The Ravens have a favorable schedule for most of the season, so they should win most of their games even without Brown. Brown would be a luxury for the last half of the season as the Ravens gear up for playoff football.
Brown would likely be a consistent chain mover if the run offense ever got behind schedule. In years past, the Ravens were forced to be hyper-efficient on every down. Adding Brown would give an extra layer to the offense that would permit the relatively consistent pick up of longer third downs in key situations. While the Ravens have a historically elite rushing offense, they can be put in situations where passing is the only option. With Brown on the field, Andrews and Marquise Brown could thrive as Antonio Brown would likely draw double teams or draw the number one corner on the opposition.
As mentioned earlier, the Ravens don’t need Brown. With that in mind, Brown would be in a situation that he would have to prove himself to the organization. It would likely be difficult for Brown to ingratiate himself within the Ravens culture without a significant change in personality. However, Brown is the most talented player on the market. If the Ravens want to take one extra shot at the Chiefs, they should pick up Brown even though he would be ineligible for Week 3 between the Chiefs and Ravens.
Simply, Baltimore should sign Antonio Brown to add an extra wrinkle to an offense that was elite in 2019.
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