NFL Free Agency: Ravens Must Avoid Trap Of Signing Antonio Brown

Article Highlights:

  • The Baltimore Ravens must ensure they keep troublesome wide receiver Antonio Brown far away from the organization
  • The seven-time Pro Bowler made it clear he wants to join the Purple and Black
  • The Ravens must stand their ground and not sign Brown this offseason

If Antonio Brown gets his way, the mercurial receiver will spend the 2022 season catching touchdowns from Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Maybe that idea works in Brown’s mind, and perhaps that fantasy will come to life for Madden NFL 23 players. However, with regards to real life, the two-time Super Bowl champions must do everything in their power to keep the four-time first-team All-Pro wideout far away from ever wearing the Purple and Black.

The Baltimore Ravens cannot give in and sign Antonio Brown to make Lamar Jackson happy

Brown’s attraction to the Ravens — or, perhaps, his desire to stay relevant by teasing his hopes of playing for Baltimore — isn’t going away. He’s been linked to the organization since the summer of 2020 when he worked out with Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, amid the ongoing pandemic.

Nearly two years later, the rumors of a Brown-Jackson team-up are still lingering. The seven-time Pro Bowler even tweeted a picture of him wearing a Ravens uniform in late January, only weeks after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut him following his shocking walkoff at MetLife Stadium. Brown and Jackson were even spotted together in Los Angeles ahead of Super Bowl 56.

Even if Jackson gets on his knees and begs for the Ravens to sign Brown, the team must stand firm and say one word: no.

Brown is a toxic player who has a history of selfish behavior through detrimental conduct. The fact he’s even being linked to potential jobs after serving a three-game suspension for misleading the Buccaneers about his vaccination status through a forged vaccine card is itself an embarrassing indictment on the NFL and those who cover the sport.

For what it’s worth, Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta said in February 2022 that he does not expect the team to add the troubled wideout or make significant changes to the current wide receiver group. He would be wise to keep his word.

Baltimore also cannot let Brown serve as a potential way of affecting Jackson’s future with the team

Theoretically, Jackson could have added power as the Ravens’ starting quarterback. If he were to approach the team and suggest they look into a player this offseason, his words might have more sway than, say, a backup linebacker.

The Ravens cannot sign Brown, even if it means appeasing Jackson. For the sake of all parties, the franchise must hold its ground regardless of how the 2019 NFL MVP potentially reacts.

Jackson is entering his contract season, and it is not yet known if he will re-sign with the Ravens. Although both sides haven’t created the impression that 2022 will be his final season in Baltimore, his injury-plagued 2021 campaign might not have helped his stance ahead of impending contract negotiations.

Unlike fellow 2020 draftee Josh Allen, Jackson chose not to sign a long-term deal ahead of the 2021 campaign. Only time will tell how much money he might lose as a result.

Suppose Jackson were to use any desire he has to play with Brown as a sticking point in contract negotiations, which is not currently believed to be the situation. In that case, the Ravens should consider leaving the table. Jackson’s future is not worth having Brown in the short term.

What other receivers should the Ravens consider in free agency if they don’t target Brown?

If DeCosta follows through on his promise, Ravens fans should expect two things this offseason. First, and perhaps most importantly, Brown won’t be wearing the Purple and Black. For as well as he played while healthy in 2021, the Ravens will be better off without him and his baggage.

The other takeaway is the Ravens likely aren’t going to splurge for a big name in free agency. Don’t expect to see Green Bay Packers star Davante Adams or Los Angeles Chargers standout Mike Williams wind up in Baltimore next season.

Nonetheless, the Ravens should strongly consider adding at least one proven receiver in free agency, preferably one who wouldn’t fetch too large a price. Pittsburgh Steelers star JuJu Smith-Schuster might need to sign a one-year, prove-it deal after missing most of the 2021 campaign with a shoulder injury. If Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t return to the Los Angeles Rams, he makes sense for the Ravens if, and only if, his knee injury forces him to take a smaller, incentive-laden contract.

Yes, we live in a world where the Ravens should prefer to sign Smith-Schuster instead of Brown. At least Smith-Schuster’s most significant personality flaw is an obsession with social media.

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