Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Brown actually offers very little downside

The Baltimore Ravens reportedly have ‘discussed’ signing Antonio Brown.

Led by the eventual NFL MVP, quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens had the best offense in the league a season ago, leading in points scored and finishing second in total yards. But even with that, the Ravens have spent parts of the 2020 offseason trying to build the offense further around the last pick of the first round from the 2018 NFL Draft, Jackson.

The Ravens selected running back JK Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 draft and followed that up with wide receiver Devin Duvernay in the third round. But even with those additions, there is still seemingly a need to add an impact pass-catcher outside of tight end Mark Andrews and, hopefully, second-year speedster Marquise Brown. And they could look to the latter’s cousin, Antonio Brown, to answer the call.

According to NFL Network’s Michael Silver, the Ravens are among a small group of teams who have “internally discussed” signing Antonio Brown. The free-agent wide receiver is still waiting to be reinstated by the league and the 32-year-old will likely still be suspended once he is reinstated given his off-field arrests and other serious allegations.

However, assuming that Brown is going to be able to see the field in the 2020 season, the veteran wide receiver could be a valuable commodity once he gets onto the active roster. He’s renowned for his practice work ethic and, with his production every time he’s played, there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to come onto the field and produce at a high level.

For Baltimore, that has to be enticing. Because even though he might be suspended and though his erratic behavior has been plenty concerning, when it comes to what he could bring the offense, Antonio Brown would bring far more potential than anything else.

Antonio Brown offers the Ravens immense upside and almost nothing else.

Yes, there is a potential downside to signing Brown. He’s had issues in the locker room before and, even if he’s joining his cousin in Baltimore, the Ravens young core could be affected by that. At the same time, though, this tight-knit group could also be good for the veteran. So though it has negative potential, there is a positive spin that is every bit as likely in my opinion.

The other part of the downside is that Brown may miss most of the season due to suspensions. Even if that’s the case, though, the Ravens had the highest-scoring offense in the NFL last season, so they would be fine without him. However, it’s what he could add down the stretch and into the playoffs that makes him more than worthwhile.

Baltimore’s rushing offense was elite last season and, though Jackson played well overall, his lack of pass-catchers was obvious. Hollywood Brown was banged up and, as a rookie, showed inconsistency as well. Outside of him and Andrews, who is a different commodity as a tight end, the leading returning wide receiver is Willie Snead with just 339 yards and five touchdowns.

Unless Miles Boykin, a raw athlete coming out in the 2019 draft class, makes a precipitous leap, the Ravens lack an alpha in the wide receiver corps. A player of that caliber could take an already-great offense and make it quite possibly unstoppable, especially if Jackson continues to progress as a passer.

Antonio Brown has enough speed to attack deep but his real trump card is his route-running and feel for the game. His ability to get open on all levels of the field would not only give Jackson a true No. 1 option but would also help out players such as Hollywood and Andrews as they’ll have less attention being paid to them. Oh yeah, it’ll also open up bigger running lanes for Jackson, Mark Ingram and Dobbins.

Make no mistake, there is an inherent risk in signing Antonio Brown. But the Ravens are in a position to take that type of risk. They had the best record in the AFC last season and, if they want to take a major leap forward, the wide receiver is a piece on offense that could help accomplish that if all goes well. With the minimal negative effects possible, they should continue discussing making this signing.