OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens have a big decision to make with wide receiver Rashod Bateman and his fifth-year option this offseason, which cost them about $13.78 million, according to overthecap.com.
Bateman has had an uneven NFL career since the Ravens selected him in the first round (27th overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Durability has been Bateman’s biggest issue, and he missed 16 games with injuries over his first two NFL seasons.
This past year, he appeared in 16 regular-season games and finished fifth on the team with 32 receptions for 367 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 41 yards in the two playoff games.
Those aren’t gaudy numbers for a former first-round selection and general manager Eric DeCosta declined to answer whether the team will pick up his option. Instead, DeCosta expressed optimism about the overall talent of the wide receivers on the current roster.
“I love the guys we have coming back. I think ‘Bate’ is going to have a great season, and we have Zay [Flowers],” DeCosta said. “We’ll talk to guys and look at potentially bringing guys back, but I feel really good about where we are. We also saw the emergence of Isaiah Likely this year, and we know, of course, what Mark can do this year – Mark Andrews.
“We have a lot of guys that can make plays, and watching Zay this year and just picturing Zay and ‘Bate’ out there next year is very exciting, and we’ll see where that leads. We’ve also got the draft, and like I said, we’ll have conversations with our free agents, as well, and we’ve already started those conversations in some cases. So, I would expect the receiver room to be very strong next year and very productive.”
Bateman was a highly-touted prospect at the Unversity of Minnesota, where he recorded 147 receptions for 2,395 yards and 19 touchdowns — fifth most in school history — in 31 games. He averaged 77.3 receiving yards per game,16.3 yards per catch, and had 10 100-yard receiving games.
He has not equaled that type of production in the NFL.
Coach John Harbaugh lauded Bateman and expects him to play a bigger role in the offense next season. Harbaugh took umbrage when asked about the “disconnect” between Bateman and quarterback Lamar Jackson.
“Rashod Bateman has a great future,” Harbaugh said. “Yes, he runs great routes. He’s developed into a great, great route runner, and I know Lamar [Jackson] wants to get him the ball as much as he can. So, the idea that he didn’t maybe … you’re saying he didn’t get as many passes as you would have liked him to get or whatever. Hey, I agree.
“I want ‘Bate’ to flourish and make a bunch of plays, and he’s going to do that, and I think he’ll be a bigger part of it next year, just by the fact that he was healthy all year this year [and] had a chance to establish himself that way, and he’ll be starting. He’ll be playing all those snaps, and he’ll rise to the occasion.”