Mark Andrews, Ravens Agree to Reported 4-Year, $56M Contract Extension

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2021

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews (89) warms-up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)
Terrance Williams/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens announced Monday that they have agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension with tight end Mark Andrews, with Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reporting the deal is worth $56 million.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler provided more details on the 26-year-old's contract:

Jeremy Fowler @JFowlerESPN

Mark Andrews' new $56-million deal with the Ravens includes $37.6 million in guaranteed money for 63 percent of the deal, per source. He will be paid $26.6 million by March 2022.

The average of $14 million per year ranks third among tight ends behind only George Kittle ($15 million) and Travis Kelce ($14.3 million), per Spotrac.

Andrews was due to become a free agent in 2022 upon the conclusion of his rookie contract. In March, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said the two sides had already begun "preliminary discussions."

Baltimore Ravens @Ravens

“We’ve had some preliminary discussions. “Mark is a very good player. I love everything about Mark – his personality, his ability, work ethic, demeanor, competitiveness… He’s the type of guy we want to keep.” GM Eric DeCosta on a potential long-term deal with TE Mark Andrews. https://t.co/3IevYnjcvO

Lamar Jackson's next contract continues to loom over Baltimore's future.

Even if the 2019 MVP falls short of matching Patrick Mahomes' 10-year, $450 million contract, Dak Prescott just returned to the Dallas Cowboys after signing a four-year, $160 million deal. The cost of keeping an elite quarterback isn't getting any cheaper, so it's something the Ravens have to keep in mind while building out their roster.

Thanks to Kittle and Kelce, Andrews was in a good position to command a hefty pay raise from his $3.4 million base salary in 2021.

Spotrac @spotrac

Reportedly nearing an extension with the #Ravens, TE Mark Andrews currently holds an $11M calculated value in our system, projecting to a 4 year, $44M extension. This would place him 3rd among all TEs behind George Kittle ($15M), & Travis Kelce ($14.3M) https://t.co/KLozzQxK1O

Through his first three years, the 2018 third-round draft pick also became a vital piece in the Ravens offense. He has caught 156 passes for 2,105 yards and 20 touchdowns in 45 games. Per Stathead, those totals ranked first among Baltimore players by a fairly wide margin.

Andrews' production may not even truly illustrate his value, either, since Jackson isn't a traditional drop-back passer and shouldn't be utilized as such. Put Kelce or Kittle in Andrews' place and they may not be setting tight end receiving records.

DeCosta and his predecessor, Ozzie Newsome, have done well to assemble a deep well of skilled young players. There's a downside to that, however, since sooner or later those young players will hit the open market roughly around the same time.

The Ravens already locked up 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley for five years and $98.8 million. Likewise, 2017 first-rounder Marlon Humphrey was rewarded with a five-year, $97.5 million extension.

Creative front offices can find ways to work around the cap, but eventually, the money runs out.

Baltimore already traded away two-time Pro Bowler Orlando Brown Jr., another member of the 2018 draft class, for multiple picks.

Steve Palazzolo @PFF_Steve

Awesome team building by the Ravens: -Draft Orlando Brown Jr. in the third round -Get three strong years from him -Flip him (essentially) for a first-round pick -Draft Jayson (Odafe) Oweh Weren't going to be able to pay Brown anyway...

DeCosta will have some difficult decisions ahead. When it came to Andrews, the choice was probably pretty easy.

As the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans have shown, simply paying a quarterback handsomely isn't enough; you have to ensure he has a strong enough supporting cast to excel.

Russell Wilson publicly lamented the state of Seattle's offensive line in February. The Athletic's Michael-Shawn Dugar, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks subsequently reported on the wider issues between the quarterback and the team.

The Texans have steadily destroyed their relationship with Deshaun Watson to the point where he reportedly doesn't want to play for them anymore.

The Ravens addressed their passing game through the draft by selecting Rashod Bateman with the No. 27 pick and then adding Tylan Wallace in the fourth round.

Still, allowing Andrews to leave wouldn't have sent a great message to Jackson, and the offense would've clearly been worse without the Oklahoma product if he left as a free agent. Now, Baltimore's star quarterback will have one of his favored targets around for the foreseeable future.