Over the course of his decade-long NFL career, Antonio Brown has established himself as one of the most dominant wide receivers in the league. Despite battling off-field issues and sitting out the majority of the 2019 season, Brown remains one of the most talented athletes in the sport. As the 2020 season approaches, the question arises: can Brown be the missing piece in the Baltimore Ravens’ puzzle?
The Ravens are already an elite team, boasting reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson and one of the league’s top defenses. However, after falling short in the playoffs last season, the team has been searching for ways to take the next step and win their third Super Bowl in franchise history. Here’s a look at how Brown could potentially fill the gaps in the team’s current roster:
1. A Need for Another Explosive Receiver
While the Ravens have a solid group of wide receivers, they lack a true number one option outside of tight end Mark Andrews. Hollywood Brown showed flashes of brilliance last season, but the team would benefit greatly from having another explosive receiver who can take the top off of defenses. Antonio Brown has proven time and time again that he’s capable of doing just that. In his last full season in 2018, he amassed a whopping 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns.
2. The Lamar Jackson Connection
Brown and Jackson have already established a connection on the field, as the two trained together in the offseason. In a recent Instagram post, Brown even referred to Jackson as his “favorite QB.” It’s easy to see why the two would be a dynamic duo on the field – Brown’s ability to create separation combined with Jackson’s unmatched speed and athleticism make for a dangerous combination.
3. The Ravens’ Run-Heavy Offense
The strength of the Ravens’ offense lies in their running game, led by Jackson and running back Mark Ingram. However, adding Brown to the mix would make the team even more threatening. Defenses would have to respect Brown’s speed and ability to beat them deep, opening up even more opportunities for the Ravens’ rushing attack.
4. Brown’s Ability to Make Plays in Crunch Time
In playoff scenarios, having a player who can make big plays in critical moments is essential. While some may be wary of Brown’s off-field issues, there’s no denying his ability to step up when his team needs him most. In the infamous “Immaculate Extension” play during the 2017 playoffs, Brown caught a pass in the final seconds of the game and reached out to break the plane of the goal line, securing a win for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Of course, there are also valid concerns surrounding Brown’s potential impact on the locker room. His departure from the Steelers and eventual brief stint with the New England Patriots were both marred by off-field issues and locker room drama. However, if Brown is able to put his personal issues aside and focus solely on football, the Ravens could be getting an elite talent who’s capable of taking their team to the next level.
In addition to Brown’s on-field talent, there’s also the financial aspect to consider. The Ravens currently have the third-most cap space in the NFL, meaning they have the funds necessary to sign Brown to a team-friendly contract. As long as he’s willing to take a pay cut and prove himself on a one-year or two-year deal, Brown could be a low-risk, high-reward acquisition for the Ravens.
Antonio Brown is undoubtedly a polarizing figure in the world of football. While his off-field issues and on-field antics have made headlines in recent years, there’s no denying his talent as a wide receiver. If he’s able to put his personal issues aside and focus solely on football, Brown has the potential to become the missing piece in the Ravens’ puzzle. With an explosive receiving corps led by him and Hollywood Brown, a run-heavy offense featuring Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, and an elite defense, the Ravens could be poised for a deep playoff run in the coming season.
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