The Baltimore Ravens have been linked with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate.
Tate, who will turn 31 just before the 2019 season, is coming off of a season in which he posted 74 catches, 795 yards, and four touchdowns, also catching a touchdown in the Eagles playoff game against the Bears, which happened to be the game-winning touchdown.
Over the course of his nine-year career, Tate has played for three franchises, winning the Super Bowl with the Seahawks in 2013. Tate parlayed a breakout season in 2013, posting 900 yards and five touchdowns. Thus leading him to a massive payday with the Detroit Lions. In his time in Detroit, Tate posted a trio of 1,000 yards seasons and 22 total touchdowns. Before he was traded to the Eagles halfway through the 2018 season, Tate was on pace for his best statistical season since 2014.
Tate, a 5-foot-10, shifty receiver, would be a boon to the Ravens passing attack. While the current group of receivers could change dramatically, Tate would become the number one option for sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson in 2019 regardless of the personnel around him. Tate has registered five consecutive seasons with at least 101 targets, a number that no Raven reached in 2018. While the Ravens may not be the premier passing offense, a receiver such as Tate could significantly help the development of the Lamar Jackson. Tate offers rare elusiveness which Baltimore has not seen since the days of Steve Smith Sr.
Brown was the Ravens leading receiver in 2018, hauling in 715 yards and five touchdowns on his 42 catches. While some metrics, such as catch percentage, do not rate Brown to be a very good receiver, his big-play flair was apparent throughout the season especially with Joe Flacco at the helm. Brown posted a trio of large outputs including a pair of 100 yard performances and 92 yards against the Bengals the first time. However, Brown only recorded eight catches in the seven games that Lamar Jackson started. For the sake of comparison, Brown would have been a 1,000-yard receiver if his averages with Joe Flacco had persisted in the final seven games of the season.
While Brown would flourish under a more conventional passer in Flacco, there is a rationale that Brown could still be serviceable under Lamar Jackson. With Jackson maturing as a passer, Brown would be an effective deep-ball threat for the Ravens. The showcase performance of Brown’s season, in week four, saw him go for 116 yards on only three catches. While the Ravens will most certainly be a run-heavy offense in 2019, a player like Brown could still be incredibly useful to keep the secondary honest and diminish heavy-run personnel for the defense.
Willie Snead IV:
Willie Snead led the Ravens in catches in 2018, posting 62. Snead, a former Saint, only caught one touchdown on the season, but he was critical on third downs for both Flacco and Jackson. With Jackson as the starter, Sneed posted a trio of five catch performances including back-to-back weeks against the Chiefs and the Buccaneers. Despite his comparatively low usage later in the season, including zero targets against the Chargers and two targets against the Browns, Snead will almost assuredly be the slot receiver entering the 2019 season for the Ravens. Of the three main receivers for the Ravens, Willie Snead is the most likely to remain on the roster moving forward.
Michael Crabtree led the Ravens in targets in 2018, registering 100 of them. While many of his targets came in the first few weeks of the season, Crabtree still had a handful of respectable performances under Jackson including a two-touchdown playoff game. The former Red Raider, who will turn 32 early in the season, may not return to the Ravens heading into 2019. Crabtree has been connected with a move out of Baltimore so the Ravens may look to replace him through free-agent acquisitions or the draft.
Andrews, the second tight end the Ravens drafted in 2018, led Baltimore tight ends with 50 targets, 34 catches, 552 yards, and three touchdowns. Andrews, who will turn 23 just before the season, looks to be one of the best young tight ends in football. The highlight of Andrews’s season came on a 68-yard touchdown pass against the Chargers in week 16. Moving ahead, the growth of Andrews will be decisive to Lamar Jackson becoming a quality NFL quarterback. If the duo of Jackson and Andrews were to develop effectively, it could be lethal for the middle of NFL defenses for the next 10 to 12 seasons.
The former first-round pick out of South Carolina had an underwhelming rookie season. While he battled injuries, Hurst will look to bounce back in 2019. While he will share snaps with a glut of tight ends that the Ravens currently have, it is certain that Hurst will get a share of targets in 2019 due to his standing as a former first-round pick. Hurst only hauled in 13 balls in 2018. While Hurst may receive an expanded workload in the Ravens offense due to the tendency for the Ravens to run a multi-tight end sets, Hurst will look to come into his own as a receiving threat.
While the Ravens offense would improve with the acquisition of Golden Tate, the Ravens may be better served to go after younger options or to draft a receiver with the number 22 pick in the upcoming draft. With Tate soon to be 31, there is speculation that he won’t be as productive as expected. The Ravens may look to re-sign their own players before attempting to go after the former Pro Bowler Tate.
Regardless of what the Ravens do concerning the wide receiver position, they’ll have a heavy emphasis on the run in 2019, aiding the progression of Lamar Jackson by reducing his workload in the pocket. Over the course of the 2018 season, Lamar Jackson threw 170 pass attempts including 158 as a starter. If his 158 passes were extrapolated over the course of the full season, he would have thrown the ball a measly 361 times. If the Ravens replicate his reduced number of attempts and continue to attack between the tackles, the Ravens might exceed 600 rushing attempts, which would minimize the value of wide receivers, unless they are game-changers as blockers. The 2018 Ravens led the NFL with 547 rushing attempts, a mark of 34 per game while tallying the second most rushing yards in the NFL, nearly 2,500. After Lamar Jackson became the quarterback, the Ravens ran for more yards than they passed for in every game excluding games against the Chargers. If the Ravens replicate that fact, any new receivers in Baltimore could be looking at a sparse statistical season.
For any free agents, it may dissuade a contract with the Ravens. Even with only a half of the season with Jackson is the starter, the Ravens had the most rushing attempts in the NFL since the 2014 season. With many other wide receiver friendly scenarios across the NFL, one can doubt that someone as competent as Golden Tate would become a Raven.