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Odell Beckham Jr. is the perfect signing for the Baltimore Ravens

By TIMOTHY MCSHEA | April 19, 2023

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ERIK DROST / CC BY 2.0

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. signs with the Baltimore Ravens, giving added incentive to Lamar Jackson’s contract extension and historic precedent for Baltimore’s future free agent signings.

This past week, Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ), superstar wide receiver and former rival of the Baltimore Ravens, has found his way to a one-year deal in Charm City. 

During the past few offseasons, the Ravens have earned a reputation as the team that wide receivers are always “in talks” with but never actually sign. The cycle always repeats, to the extent that hope for OBJ actually signing with the Ravens, despite reports of talks and increased interest, was viewed by fans as very slim. The only other major suitor at the time of talks was the New York Jets, who looked to revamp their wide receiver corps, along with recently added wide receivers Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman. 

Fortunately, OBJ won’t be added to the Flock’s list of “almosts,“ and he has already embraced Charm City with open arms. Since the announcement of OBJ’s signing was released, OBJ has posted his son in a Lamar Jackson jersey, gone to a nightclub with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and recorded himself doing the “Park Heights Strut,” a popular Baltimore dance.

While all of this is great to see, most Ravens fans' positive feelings have two sources. First, OBJ is a star and highly respected wide receiver who has found relative success. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, OBJ’s signing serves as a large incentive for quarterback Lamar Jackson to continue to play for the Ravens. 

With all the perceived instability between Lamar Jackson and the Ravens organization, finally signing a real star at wide receiver shows that the Ravens' front office is willing to assess their team with Lamar Jackson’s utmost happiness in mind.

In a recent episode of his podcast, The Lombardi Line, Mike Lombardi reported that Lamar Jackson specifically requested Odell, along with Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, as part of the continuing contract negotiations.

It is unclear whether the Ravens are still pursuing DeAndre Hopkins, which would truly be the biggest Ravens signing of all time. But, recently, on his podcast Big Play Slay, Darius Slay ambiguously stated that he had heard news of “other people” wanting to go to the Ravens. Obviously, this could be anyone, but it does give more credence to Lombardi’s claimed source since the Ravens are still looking to add someone.

OBJ’s deal has a contract maximum of $18 million, but due to the inclusion of “void years,” meaning the allocation of that money to future years in the event of an extension, the total cap hit for the coming season is only $3.9 million. So, if there was ever worry that OBJ is being “overpaid,” the window is still very much open for a Lamar Jackson contract extension. As is usually the case, the maximum contract amount doesn’t tell the full story.

Looking at OBJ’s career path, as well as his stats on previous teams, this addition seems questionable. His most recent 1,000-yard season was with the Browns in 2019 during the three sequential seasons he struggled to reach even 300 yards due to injuries, and he didn’t play on any team at all this most recent season. 

Perhaps the biggest potential risk with OBJ is injury. He has gotten two ACL tears on each knee and claims that he played the latter half of the 2021 season with a torn ACL. Interestingly, after Super Bowl LVI, his second tear forced a reassessment of his first surgery, which was fixed during the offseason.

OBJ is also 29 years old, meaning his time in the NFL is limited. He is highly respected because of his first five seasons in the league, four of which were 1,000+ yard seasons, and no article on OBJ is complete without mentioning his famous catch, which sailed his name to stardom in his 2014 rookie season and is often cited as one of the greatest plays in the history of the NFL. 

The Ravens have a history of signing veteran wide receivers, such as Desean Jackson, Dez Bryant and, most successfully, Derrick Mason. However, OBJ might be the biggest name signed by the Ravens, as his stardom is still very much alive. Most of the past signings were given to the veterans well past their prime, many of them coming back to the league after a multi-year hiatus.

The cap hit being only $3.9 million is very important when evaluating this signing, as it puts more pressure on future years and leaves the option for OBJ to sign somewhere else in the event Lamar Jackson leaves after his franchise tag wears off. If it entices Lamar Jackson to play through his franchise tag rather than hold out in hopes of a trade, then OBJ has served his very important purpose. 

The only issue is that Ravens fans are expecting a lot more out of this signing when it really could just be another object of negotiation for Lamar Jackson. Either way, it's a historic move by the front office, and OBJ seems ready to bring a new level of excitement to M&T Bank Stadium.


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