The same adage rings true for garage sales and NFL players: you get what you pay for. Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews signed a massive four-year, $56 million contract extension in early September, and so far, he’s held up his end of the deal.
That is, being one of the best tight ends in the league in 2021.
Through six weeks of the season, Andrews has recorded 34 catches for 468 yards, ranking in the top 10 in the AFC for both those categories.
Pro Football Focus has given Andrews the highest offensive grade of any tight end (91.8), and many would say he’s playing better football than AFC rival and fellow tight end Travis Kelce.
Patrick Mahomes and Kelce have got nothing on Lamar Jackson and Andrews this year.
Andrews got off to a slow start in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders, catching just three passes for 20 yards, but elite players always rebound, one way or another.
Since the Ravens’ opening loss, Andrews has recorded at least five catches in every game. Baltimore happened to win all five of those games. Coincidence? We think not.
Andrews’ most impressive performances may have been in his last two games against the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers.
In Week 5 against the Colts, Andrews finished with career-highs in catches (11) and yards (147), but no one had a more clutch performance than he did. His two scores came in the fourth quarter and he helped score two two-point conversions to force the game to overtime.
In Week 6 against the Chargers, Andrews led the Ravens with five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, averaging 13.6 yards per catch and earning PFF’s highest grade.
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has already paid the Ravens back handsomely this season
With the incessant news surrounding Jackson’s broken records and stellar performances, Andrews has shunned the spotlight for now. But his teammates know his worth and will make sure he doesn’t forget it.
Lamar Jackson said of Andrews in an interview:
"“[Andrews] was getting after it in Arizona when we were working out [this offseason]. He just wants to be the best, and that’s what you need out of your players. Your tight end — whatever position they play — you want the best out of them, and that’s what he’s shown.”"
Andrews’ 468 receiving yards in six games this year means he’s on track to surpass last season’s total yardage of 701. Out of all years, Andrews couldn’t have picked a better time to find his prime form.
With injuries to the running back and wide receiver rooms this season, the Ravens have depended on Andrews more than usual to make a dent in the passing game.
The Ravens ranked dead last in the league in passing yards last year and acquired draft pick Rashod Bateman and veteran Sammy Watkins to give Jackson better targets on the field.
When Bateman and Watkins missed games due to injury, Andrews happily took on receiving duties. He’s been so good running routes and catching the ball these days that he could be mistaken for a wide receiver.
If Baltimore is really in a pinch, who knows, he might even thrive out on the sidelines. Andrews’ impact on this team has no bounds.
This is Andrews’ fourth season playing with Jackson, and it seems like opponents have yet to figure out Jackson and Andrews’ on-field chemistry.
Andrews continues to serve as Jackson’s favorite and most reliable target in 2021, and you just can’t put a price on that quarterback-tight end relationship.
As long as Mark Andrews keeps up the production, the Ravens’ front office should have no problem throwing money at him. Though they should save some in the bank for Jackson.