Speculation is in full force with the possibility of Antonio Brown signing with the Ravens. How much does it make for the Ravens to add the former Steelers option?
Some rumors never die, and when those rumors surround former Steelers WR Antonio Brown, those rumors are constantly being brought back up. Brown teased the entirety of the NFL fanbase by posting a picture of himself in a Ravens uniform. This picture came after a swirl of rumors developed after he was seen working out with Lamar Jackson and his cousin, Marquise Brown. While little can be said about the talent level of the senior Brown, it makes little sense for the Ravens to pursue a contract with him.
Looking first at Brown himself, he is arguably the most prolific WR in Steelers history. In his nine years with the Steelers, Brown posted 837 receptions for 11,207 yards to go with 74 TDs, all impressive numbers. Looking at his style of game, the being one that relies more on precision route running and quickness over straight speed, the fact that he is set to be 32 years old this season shouldn’t be a huge concern.
The concerns and issues with him are obvious, after quitting on the Steelers in their week 17 game against the Bengals in 2018, he blew up in the offseason and demanded a trade. Eventually, the Steelers unloaded him to the Raiders for a 3rd and 5th round pick in last year’s draft. He signed a new contract and proceeded to accomplish… nothing.
Brown’s time in Oakland amounted to nothing, as his preseason was spent on the sidelines before fighting with the management and eventually being cut. The whole world clamored to see where he would end up next, and eventually, he landed in New England. While he did see playing time in New England, as well as catching his 75th TD pass from a one Tom Brady, he was cut the next week due to his off the field concerns.
There he sat for the rest of the season, with only minor interest coming from the Saints late in the year. Now, it has been essentially a whole season since he has seen meaningful playing time. While the talent may still be there, does it justify having to deal with a player like Brown has become?
Looking at the Ravens, they are a team that lives and dies with the run. Last year, both Jackson and Mark Ingram posted 1000-yard seasons rushing, while the top backup Gus Edwards added 711 yards on the ground. Considering the team added J.K. Dobbins in the draft, that rushing attack should be just as potent next year.
With such a rushing attack, the passing game took the back seat statistically. That said, options like Mark Andrews and Brown (their top two pass catchers) are set to return and have developed another year. As well, 3rd rounder Miles Boykin should see a jump in his production next year after a promising rookie campaign. Don’t forget about Willie Snead either, as he is a solid option coming out of the slot.
Finally, the Ravens spent a 3rd round and 6th round pick on Devin Duvernay and James Proche in the draft, further bolstering that group. While this group has yet to see a true star emerge, they have plenty of options to spread the ball around while still relying heavily on the running game.
Considering the youth in this room, adding a veteran akin to what they had in Seth Roberts last year isn’t the worst idea. That way, that veteran can pass down the leadership and responsibility these young players need to be successful on the field. The issue is, Brown isn’t that guy. After going off the deep end, Brown has become the pinnacle of the “diva WR” and would do more harm to the locker room than good.
This isn’t to say he wouldn’t have a role, as Brown would likely be penciled in as the number one option for the team. There is obvious value in that, but when the Ravens have built their team around spreading the ball around and running the ball, would Brown be content with the stats of a number two option? History says no.
In the end, all of this comes down to the pros and cons. While it is impossible to deny the talent Brown processes, the locker room negatives outweigh any talent he would offer. The last thing the Ravens need is a bad presence for this crop of young WRs. If they had nothing at the position, then adding Brown would make more sense, but after adding to the room through the previous two drafts means adding Brown is a nonsensical luxury.
While Brown will go down as one of the most talented players of his generation, his recent social outburst has stained his great career. Considering the Ravens’ potent running game and their ability to spread the ball around, Brown likely wouldn’t see the stats he wants (and was complaining about not getting with the Steelers) if he signed with the Ravens. While this match may look like one made in heaven on paper, it makes little sense for the Ravens since Brown can blow up when things don’t go his way on the field.