Baltimore has become stigmatized as an undesirable landing spot for free agent wide receivers. Contrary to popular belief, however, Baltimore is actually a perfect spot for a potential “WR1”.
Why Free Agent Wide Receivers Should Come to Baltimore
While Baltimore has one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL since Lamar Jackson took the starting job, Baltimore has had dozens of red zone opportunities for its passing offense. Over the last two seasons, Jackson has 62 passing touchdowns, including 36 in an NFL-leading 2019 campaign. Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews are two of just 11 players to catch at least seven touchdowns in both 2019 and 2020. Similarly, they are two of just 14 players to catch 15 or more over those seasons.
While those numbers may not scream to free agent wide receivers to “come to Maryland”, but the likes of Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, and Chris Godwin would immediately become the top passing option in Baltimore and be subject to many red-zone targets.
They could score in upwards of 12, 14, or even more touchdowns based on the availability of touchdown opportunities in Baltimore. Receivers should come to Baltimore to post potentially gaudy touchdown stats.
For as much media hate as Jackson receives, he earned the respect of his peers in 2019 with the NFL players ranking him as the best player in the sport. Many individuals in the mainstream media believe Jackson is the issue, but NFL players adore the 2019 MVP.
Jackson took a step back in 2020, but his version of a down season was a 99.3 passer rating, 26 passing touchdowns, and a top-10 QBR. With a receiver in Baltimore like Robinson, Golladay, or Godwin, expect those numbers to increase in volume and efficiency.
Four teams have won 10 or more games in each of the last three seasons: Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle, and Baltimore. Kansas City and Seattle already have two superstar pass catchers (Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill in Kansas City, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in Seattle), and the Saints are over $100 Million in NFL salary cap hell. Baltimore occupies a unique niche as a winning organization that desperately needs a top-tier wide receiver.
Many wide free agent wide receivers end up signing a big contract and then get a reputation as stats-first divas, but if winning is a priority, Baltimore is the cream of the crop. If a Lombardi is on your mind, wide receivers should come to Baltimore.
Stefon Diggs and the Buffalo Bills
Heading into the 2020 season, the Bills were not seen as a premier passing offense. In 2019, they ranked 24th in pass attempts, 26th in passing yards, and 21st in net yards per pass. It was far from a great destination.
When 2020 rolled around, the Bills were an explosive passing offense, placing third in passing yards and passing touchdowns with the fourth-most efficient passing offense. This boost was in large part due to Diggs developing chemistry with third-year quarterback Josh Allen. Allen played at an MVP-level, but the offense was opened up because Buffalo had viable weapons.
Robinson, Golladay, or Godwin coming to Baltimore could unlock this extra gear in the passing offense. While it seems counterproductive for a wide receiver to join the most run-heavy team in 2020, the potential is there for a statistical explosion. Baltimore has complementary pieces but not a true star. Out of all of the free agent wide receivers, Robinson, Golladay, or Godwin would seem like the best bets to be the “star” that Baltimore needs.
Baltimore has been a common landing spot for talented free agent wide receivers–or traded wide receivers– in the second half of their careers. Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Smith have joined the Ravens in the quest for a championship. Boldin was an integral piece to the 2012 Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII while Mason and Smith were the top options on playoff contenders in 2006 and 2014. Robinson, Golladay, or Godwin could etch their name in Baltimore lore as the top passing threat for a potential Super Bowl-winning team.
The Drawback For Free Agent Wide Receivers – Money
Financially, the Ravens have drawn a clear line in the sand. They will not beg for a star wide receiver to don the purple and black. Within the organization, Baltimore believes they have a recipe that will field a competitive team year-in and year-out.
The likes of Robinson, Golladay, and Godwin would likely not garner $20 million per year contracts in Baltimore, and that could limit Baltimore’s upside as an option.
Despite much of the media attempting to steer free agent wide receivers away from Baltimore, the Ravens have as much to offer as just about any team in the league. While most of the league can offer more money, no other team can offer a blend of winning and statistical potential as the Ravens can. Robinson, Golladay, or Godwin may not ink a $100 million contract, but they could post gaudy stats as the No. 1 option or lift a Lombardi trophy as a member of the Ravens. Receivers should come to Baltimore.
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