— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 9, 2023
Beckham last played for the Los Angeles Rams, where he won a Super Bowl. However, an ACL tear meant that he was out of action in 2022. Many teams were interested in signing him during the season, including the Ravens, but he ultimately decided to wait until the off-season to get a deal that he felt he deserved.
The former first-round pick joins a young receiving corps in need of elite talent and veteran leadership. Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay were the team’s top two wideouts last year. However, this off-season, Eric DeCosta has vowed to revolutionize his offense. Replacing Greg Roman with Todd Monken was the first step, and now acquiring Beckham is another huge addition. He is the second external free agent signing after Nelson Agholor.
How Odell Beckham Jr. Fits Baltimore
Beckham’s signing makes him the first tried-and-tested elite wideout on the Ravens in a long time. Baltimore previously had a good thing with Marquise Brown, but his frustration with his usage led to him being traded to the Arizona Cardinals. However, Beckham is undoubtedly a step above Brown in terms of ability.
As it stands, the Ravens now appear to have a competitive receiver room. Their depth chart looks something like this:
LWR: Odell Beckham Jr.
SLWR: Devin Duvernay/Nelson Agholor
TE: Mark Andrews/Isaiah Likely
RWR: Rashod Bateman
In Monken’s new offense, it is expected that Baltimore will have a new-look passing playbook. While the team will look to remain run-heavy, expect a transition to more modern pass plays. Based on how Monken set up his offense in Georgia, the Ravens could also utilize more dual-tight-end formations.
Beckham immediately becomes the Ravens’ primary receiver. He will be Lamar Jackson’s ‘safety net’. The expectation is that, with Beckham, the team now has a reliable weapon to alleviate some of Bateman’s workload. Bateman has shown potential, but having Beckham around will take some pressure off the young receiver. The 30-year-old also brings Super Bowl experience and proven leadership.
Like how Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins aided the development of their young quarterbacks, Beckham is expected to come in and help Jackson vastly. His experience as one of the league’s premier receivers brings a new level of ability to Baltimore’s offense.
The final thing to note is that Beckham essentially completes Baltimore’s receiving group. With Bateman and Beckham, Baltimore has two excellent boundary threats. With them as the ‘traditional’ receivers, the team can now find more interesting roles for Duvernay. They can also use Agholor primarily as a deep threat.
What Baltimore Signing Odell Beckham Jr. Means for the Draft
With Beckham signed, Baltimore is likely out of the race for Hopkins. Do not expect Baltimore to draft a receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft either. Receiver is no longer a desperate need. Baltimore’s only other moves at receiver are likely to be depth ones for players who would compete to be on the roster.
With receiver off the board for Baltimore, what are their draft needs? Cornerback and edge are the only positions of need for the Ravens. With their first-round selection, DeCosta could look to grab one of the top three cornerbacks. The likeliest candidate to fall to them would be Joey Porter Jr., the former Penn State corner.
In terms of edge rushers, Lukas Van Ness has been a popular mock draft selection for Baltimore. They could also consider someone like Nolan Smith, who fits the profile of the kind of player DeCosta likes. The expectation is, however, that Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo will step up.
If none of the prospects excite Baltimore, a trade-down is likely. DeCosta is known to be happy to move down the board. As such, with just five picks this year, the team could try to acquire more late-round selections. This is especially the case given the depth of the cornerback and edge classes this year.
One important thing to note is that Beckham does not count against the compensatory pick formula. As such, the projected 2024 fourth-round pick that Baltimore acquires from Ben Powers’ departure will remain unchanged.
Is Odell Beckham Jr.’s Signing an Olive Branch from Baltimore for Lamar Jackson?
A popular theory circulating is that Beckham’s arrival is a way of appeasing Jackson into signing a new deal with the Ravens. The former MVP has had a turbulent time agreeing on a long-term extension with Baltimore over the last year. It resulted in DeCosta opting to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on him earlier in the off-season, but Jackson subsequently demanded a trade from the organization.
With Jackson and Baltimore’s relations reaching a breaking point, Beckham’s arrival seems to have been timed perfectly. Jackson was vocal about his dissatisfaction with Brown’s trade last year, so Beckham’s signing could be a way to appeal to Jackson. Indeed, this seems the likeliest scenario.
Some believe that Beckham’s signing is a symbol that Jackson is close to agreeing to an extension. Why else would Baltimore suddenly spend so much money after being stingy all off-season? Perhaps DeCosta has agreed on an extension with Jackson, meaning he knows how much cap space is at his disposal. The fact that Beckham was rumored to only be keen on Baltimore if Jackson is extended compounds this theory. Add this to the fact that Jackson posted him face-timing Beckham after his signing…
Lamar Jackson posted this on IG after news broke of OBJ signing with the Ravens 👀 pic.twitter.com/fPFsD55iLx
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 10, 2023
Outside of this mainstream theory, other radical rumors have arisen too. One of these is that Baltimore has only signed Beckham because they know Jackson would be gone. As such, DeCosta can now afford to spend the cap space that he had been keeping aside for Jackson.
Another theory is that Baltimore signed Beckham as a way of appealing to Aaron Rodgers as well as Jackson. If Jackson is truly traded, the Ravens could make a push for Rodgers. Given that Beckham was on Rodgers’ free agent ‘wishlist’, Baltimore could have signed Beckham to lure Rodgers to Baltimore. With that said, both theories seem very unlikely.
Main Photo: Sam Greene – Cincinnati Enquirer/USA TODAY NETWORK