The Baltimore Ravens seem to always place a high amount of players on the Pro Bowl. In fact, the 2019 Ravens tied (Dallas in 2007) for the NFL’s most-ever selections (13) on a Pro Bowl roster, but they’ve never had a player go on the postseason All-Star game as a true wide receiver. Yes, Devin Duvernay made it to the Pro Bowl in 2022. However, that was as a return specialist not a receiver.
Baltimore’s lack of Pro Bowl receivers does not come as a surprise given how much success they’ve had with veteran pass catching options like Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith Sr. The trend of adding veteran receivers continued this year with the Ravens signing free agents Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr.
With former Pro Bowler DeAndre Hopkins being released by the Arizona Cardinals, another option became available. Should the Ravens sign him? Absolutely.
Hopkins appeared on the “I am Athlete” podcast with former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall and Ashley Nicole Moss. He named Baltimore as one of the places he’d be interested in playing.
“What I want is stable management upstairs,” he said. “I think that’s something I haven’t really had the past couple years of my career coming from Houston and then to Arizona. I’ve been through three or four GMs in my career, so a stable management. A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him and pushes not just himself but everybody around him … and a great defense. A great defense wins championships.”
There’s little doubt about how stable the Ravens management is with Eric DeCosta serving as the general manager and Ozzie Newsome close by for any advice. Baltimore is one of the better run organizations in the NFL.
Then there’s the fact that Lamar Jackson is locked in as quarterback for years to come after signing a five-year, $260 million contract recently. That’s another advantage the Ravens have.
Hopkins mentioned which quarterbacks he’d like to play with and it gave another hint that Baltimore is in the running. He named Jackson, along with Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert as quarterbacks he’d like to team up with.
Jackson stands to gain from new offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s scheme which will allow him to showcase his passing talent. The new scheme appeals to Jackson because he has more freedom to make checks at the line of scrimmage.
Although he’s been a historically dynamic quarterback running the football, Jackson admitted he will run less this season.
“Running can only take you so far. I feel like with this new era of teams and offenses in the league, I feel like we need that,” Jackson said.
Monken has seen firsthand how explosive Jackson is as a runner, but he’s not looking to rely on that as much on the new offense. It’s time to let someone else do the heavy lifting.
“I think the more talented you are around your quarterback, the less he has to take on that burden and shoulder the load, because you’re excited about getting others the football where they can utilize their skill set,” Monken said. “So I think that kind of answers itself.
That’s where adding a player like Hopkins comes into play. His best days came with Deshaun Watson as his quarterback. The Watson and Hopkins tandem destroyed opposing defenses especially when they went off schedule. Like Watson, Jackson’s running style gives defenses another thing to think about.
Both have the ability to scramble to throw which leaves defenders in a catch 22 situation having to decide if they’ll come off their coverage assignment to tackle the scrambler or stay with their man while the quarterback scrambles. Those are types of plays that Watson and Hopkins thrived under for years with the Houston Texans.
At 30 years old, Hopkins isn’t quite the same player he once was, but he still has some left in the tank. He has two seasons with over 1,500 yards and four with at least 100 receptions with Watson throwing him the ball. While he missed six games in 2022 due to a PED suspension, Hopkins still finished as the Cardinals’ leading receiver with 717 yards and three touchdowns.
An incentive laden deal should get it done and bring Hopkins to the Ravens. He already has a familiar friend on the team, as though he trained with Beckham in the offseason.