NFL Beast

The Best Damn NFL News Site Ever!

Ravens expect Rashod Bateman to ‘take a big step’ in 2024

4 min read

#NFLBeast #NFL #NFLTwitter #NFLUpdate #NFLNews #NFLBlogs

#Baltimore #Ravens #BaltimoreRavens #AFC

By: Joshua Reed

Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The former first-rounder is slated to have an expanded role on offense heading into a pivotal fourth season.

The Baltimore Ravens had the deepest and most complete roster in the league in 2023 and are slated to have a slew of unrestricted free agents hit the market, many of whom will likely not return after having career years this past season.

While that means even more of the onus to continue to perform at an elite level will be on the shoulders of established franchise cornerstone pieces, they will also need to lean on young players still looking to break out. One such player is 2021 first-round wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who the team anticipates having a larger role on offense this fall according to Head Coach John Harbaugh.

“I think Rashod Bateman is going to take a big step,” told reporters on Tuesday at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. “Rashod is going to get opportunities this year. He ran routes really well. He worked super hard. He was healthy for the first time – even as the year went on, he got healthier, and you could see it in his play. The ball got to him, [and] when it did, he made some great plays. The ball is going to get to him a lot more next year. He’s going to be ready to go.”

Bateman has consistently flashed explosive playmaking potential but has yet to emerge as the game-breaking difference maker they envisioned when they took him at No. 27 overall three years ago. This past season he did consistently get open with filthy route running, only to not get the ball thrown his way because he wasn’t the primary progression or it simply wasn’t thrown accurately.

The former University of Minnesota standout has mostly been hampered by injuries through his first three seasons, missing 16 out of a possible 52 career games including playoffs. A groin surgery he underwent in training camp as a rookie delayed his regular season debut by five games and a Lisfranc foot injury he suffered in 2022 ended his season just eight weeks into the year.

In 2023, Bateman appeared in a career-high 16 games and made 12 starts but only managed to record 32 receptions on 56 targets for 367 receiving yards and one touchdown. He posted more catches, targets, and receiving yards in 12 games as a rookie in 2021 but the Ravens didn’t have nearly the arsenal of talented pass catchers at receiver that year as they did in 2023.

Last season he was competing for targets and the attention from two-time MVP-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson with the likes of three-time Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr., standout rookie Zay Flowers who led the team in every major receiving stat except touchdown receptions, and former first-rounder and Super Bowl champion Nelson Agholor, who was recently re-signed.

Down the stretch and into the postseason, Bateman began to out-snap both Beckham Jr. and Agholor the further he was removed from his foot injury and the healthier he got. Even though the Ravens were a lot more balanced on offense compared to years past, they were still a run-first team in the first year under Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken.

Since there were a lot of mouths to feed and only one ball to go around, even though Bateman’s playing time ramped up, his production didn’t explode. But he was solid nonetheless and came up with several crucial drive-extending catches during their run to the AFC Championship.

General Manager Eric DeCost shared that he has maintained communication with Beckham Jr. and Harbaugh told the media “I’ve got my fingers crossed. We’ll see.” when addressing the topic of the popular veteran’s potential return in 2024. It doesn’t seem like an extended stay in Charm City is in the cards unless his free agent market turns out not to be very fruitful and he’s willing to take a team-friendly deal after the Ravens overpaid him in 2023.

Nevertheless, whoever the team adds to the mix this offseason via free agency or this year’s NFL Draft, they will be playing behind Flowers and Bateman, who could possibly be heading into the final year of his rookie deal. If his fifth-year option of $14.3 million isn’t picked up to count against the 2025 salary cap, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason coming off what he and the Ravens hope is a breakout fourth season in 2024.

Originally posted on Baltimore Beatdown – All Posts