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Baltimore Ravens Should Go All-In for Deebo Samuel After 2022 NFL Draft

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 1, 2022

San Francisco 49ers' Deebo Samuel warms up before the NFC Championship NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

There's little doubt now that in order to take the next step forward with franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson in 2022, the Baltimore Ravens will have to provide him with more weapons.

That was arguably the case in free agency when the Ravens signed no receivers but moved on from Sammy Watkins and Miles Boykin. It was arguably the case in the draft, where they traded top wide receiver Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals but spent none of their 11 picks on wideouts.

With the draft in the rear-view mirror and Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay likely leading the receiver depth chart, the Ravens must realize that it's time to pull the trigger on a deal for disgruntled San Francisco 49ers All-Pro Deebo Samuel.

Bateman could become a star, but the 2021 first-round pick barely hit the 500-yard mark during an injured-riddled rookie campaign. Duvernay is a return specialist who is better suited as a complementary receiving option.

And the only other receivers on the roster are James Proche II (17 catches in two NFL seasons), Tylan Wallace (two catches in 17 games as a rookie in 2021), Binjimen Victor (an undrafted 25-year-old with no NFL work under his belt) and Jaylon Moore (an undrafted 24-year-old with the same resume as Victor).

The Ravens need to replace Marquise Brown with Deebo Samuel.
The Ravens need to replace Marquise Brown with Deebo Samuel.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Sure, the Ravens offense is run-oriented, and the secret sauce lies with Jackson's dual-threat ability and tight end Mark Andrews' dominance as a safety valve. However, that hasn't yielded much in terms of success, and Baltimore ranked below average offensively in terms of yards per play while posting an 8-9 record in 2021. 

When the team dealt Brown to the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the draft, Ravens fans likely hoped that was a precursor to a bigger move. The Ravens need an upgrade over Brown, not take a step backward. And the only obvious way to accomplish that now is to pay up for Samuel. 

Unfortunately, the Ravens lack immediate draft capital as trade ammunition. Ideally, they would have made a move for Samuel on Thursday or Friday, but that doesn't mean this can't happen. A team in win-now mode with a quarterback who doesn't appear to be antsy about extending his expiring contract has to be willing to sacrifice future draft capital in a situation like this for a player like this.

It's the cool thing to do now anyway, a la the Los Angeles Rams. Primo draft picks are nice, but those are rolls of the dice, and Samuel is a proven commodity.

The 26-year-old Samuel exploded with 1,770 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns in 16 games last season in San Francisco. But he told ESPN's Jeff Darlington last week that he wants to be traded. The 49ers, for their part, understandably appear to be driving a hard bargain for a rising star who remains under contract through 2022, per ESPN's Rich Cimini.

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

So no, Samuel won't come cheap. He'll likely cost more than $20 million per year beyond trade value. But winning is rarely inexpensive, and it's hard not to drool at the thought of a dynamic weapon like Samuel working with Jackson and Andrews in Baltimore's offense. 

The good news is that much of Baltimore's potential competition in the Samuel sweepstakes has invested premium capital in the receiver position via the draft. The Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots all used second-round picks on wideouts, and the New York Jets selected Ohio State product Garrett Wilson 10th overall. 

Maybe that'll help. Maybe it won't. Regardless, the Ravens have a full complement of picks in the 2023 and 2024 drafts, and they might be able to sweeten the pot with a somewhat expendable veteran like Marcus Peters for a San Francisco team that could use help in the secondary. 

If you expect to be good—and the Ravens should expect that, especially with Samuel on the roster—first-round picks are less valuable anyway. 

It's time for Baltimore to employ that approach and offer Kyle Shanahan and Co. an offer they can't refuse for a player who might force the Niners' hand anyway.