The Ravens are paying for their offseason inaction at the WR position

Ravens, Rashod Bateman (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Ravens, Rashod Bateman (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens passing game was just dealt a heavy blow, with John Harbaugh announcing that former first-rounder Rashod Bateman will undergo season-ending foot surgery, a major blow to an already-thin group of receivers.

This is particularly frustrating timing for Baltimore, as this injury comes just two days after a trade deadline in which they failed to upgrade the receiver position.

But while some Ravens fans may point to that inaction as an example of Baltimore’s lack of investment at the position, their real sin came this past offseason.

The Trade Deadline

Not getting a receiver at the trade deadline was excusable. As Harbaugh said, “it takes two to tango,” and the receiver market was not very hot.

The only receiver moved was Chase Claypool, who went to the Chicago Bears for a high second-round pick, a massive overpay that the Ravens were smart to avoid.

And given some of the reports about demands for other receivers, it is clear that many of the options were simply unrealistic for Baltimore, both from an asset and salary cap standpoint.

The Ravens could have tried all they wanted to trade for a receiver, but a deal was just not there.

While Baltimore needs receivers, the goal is always to ultimately make the team better, and trading for a 25-year-old All-Pro linebacker in Roquan Smith was still a better move than any of the available receiver options.

But while the Ravens may get a pass for how they handled the trade deadline, there is simply no excuse for their inaction in upgrading the position this past offseason.

The Ravens’ Lack of Depth

The Ravens are different from most NFL teams in that they do not necessarily need an elite receiver to serve as their top available option in the passing game.

Mark Andrews targets and Lamar Jackson scrambles are two outlets that most NFL teams do not have, and there is truth to the matter that Baltimore needs their receivers to just be serviceable in order for the passing game to flourish.

But with the lack of consistent receiving options beyond their starters, the fall-off without Bateman this year has been stark yet predictable.

In the five games in which he has played at least 30 snaps, the Ravens are third in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ passing DVOA metric, but in the three other games, they go down to 18th.

Their passing game is like a fragile Jenga set that needs to be treated with care, and as soon as one player leaves, everything comes crashing down.

Having contingency plans is one of the basic foundations of team building, and the Ravens were in desperate need of backup options after trading Marquise Brown for the pick that eventually turned into breakout rookie center Tyler Linderbaum, but they simply refused to add some basic depth.

Demarcus Robinson and DeSean Jackson are perfectly fine fringe options, but they should not be your first options in the case of injury.

In the past years, the Ravens have not been very good at drafting receivers, even as they have invested heavy draft capital in the position. This past offseason, they were simply negligent in not doing the bare minimum to cultivate that group to be what this team needs.

Without Bateman, Baltimore will now be forced to piece together an offense with Devin Duvernay, Demarcus Robinson, James Proche, Tylan Wallace, and DeSean Jackson as their top receivers.

Next. 3 wide receivers the Ravens can sign after a quiet trade deadline. dark

That is simply not good enough for a team trying to win a Super Bowl — and the Ravens have no one to blame but themselves.