Rashod Bateman gives blunt excuse for poor 2023 season with Ravens

Bateman knows he underperformed last year.
Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens may have surprised some fans by handing out a contract extension to wide receiver Rashod Bateman, as the former first-round choice has struggled to both stay on the field and link up with Lamar Jackson. The Ravens are hoping 2024 and beyond will be a different story.

The Ravens were unable to pick up his fifth-year option due to contract technicalities precipitated by a holdout. Rather than lose him to the free agent market, Bateman was signed to an extension through the 2026 season that reaffirms Baltimore's commitment to their former first-round draft choice.

Bateman knows that he hasn't lived up to billing as a first-round pick, and he understands fans are a bit perturbed with his average play. Bateman puts his struggles last year squarely at his own feet, saying that his injury and inability to work with Jackson in the offseason made it tough to get in sync with him.

“Lamar trusts me,” Bateman said, via Glenn Clark Radio. “Last year, we didn’t have that connection. And that’s due to me, my injury. I wasn’t able to work out with him in the offseason. I missed all of training camp. For a QB that’s tough. You gotta feel your receivers.”

Rashod Bateman explains poor 2023 season with Baltimore Ravens

Bateman recorded just 32 catches for 367 yards last year, both of which were behind what new Dolphins WR Odell Beckham Jr. put up. After he played in all but one game last season following an oft-injured 2022 campaign, Bateman saw his yards per game cut in half down to just 22.9 per contest.

The Ravens have Bateman slotted in as the No. 2 wide receiver on the depth chart behind Zay Flowers, but there is some competition that he must fend off if he wants to become a no-doubt starter. Nelson Agolor was brought back, and promising fourth-round rookie Devontez Walker was signed to give the room more speed and big-play potential.

Bateman was getting open at a fairly solid clip last season, but Jackson was on the same page with Flowers and Mark Andrews more often. The lack of a solid WR2 last season was one of the main reasons (albeit not THE main reason) the Ravens' offense started to sputter in the postseason.

The Ravens are taking a calculated risk by letting Bateman once again occupy such a prominent position, but Bateman at his best could be a deadly weapon.