Lamar Jackson ‘hoping’ for Antonio Brown, but Ravens need to keep saying no

Lamar Jackson keeps quietly pushing for the Ravens to add Antonio Brown to their wide receiver corps. It’s a good thing they’re still not listening to their reigning MVP quarterback.

Jackson, in speaking to reporters at the onset off training camp Wednesday, once again expressed how he would love for his team to sign Brown after working out with the free agent in April.

“It was nice throwing to Antonio Brown” Jackson said, via ESPN. “I was hoping we would get him. I’m still hoping — a little bit.”

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When throwing to Brown earlier in the offseason, Jackson came away impressed with not only Brown’s talent, but his passion, work ethic and drive to win. On top of boosting a young Baltimore wideout corps on the field, Jackson also believes the former Steeler, Raider and Patriot could mesh with the Ravens’ players off the field.

“There’s no quit with him,” Jackson said. “That’s the type of guy we need in our locker room. I feel like the locker room here is different than any other locker room. There’s a brotherhood going on. None of that outside noise. It’s strictly inside.”

Brown, who quickly reversed course from potential retirement this summer, has pushed for the NFL to finish its investigation into allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him. Should he be cleared and allowed to sign and play with anyone in 2020 without discipline, Baltimore officials shouldn’t want to mess with any real interest in Brown.

The Ravens went 14-2 as the top AFC playoff seed last season with an elite run-heavy offense. They strengthened their No. 1 rushing attack by drafting rookie running back J.K. Dobbins. They are short on experience at wide receiver, but have plenty of promise in second-year speedsters Marquise “Hollywood” Brown — Antonio’s cousin — and Miles Boykin. They also drafted two more wideouts, Devin Duvernay and James Proche. They also have a rising star at tight end in Mark Andrews, Jackson’s go-to guy from 2019 who has no plans to opt out of the season despite having Type 1 diabetes.

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Jackson vouching for Antonio Brown is no surprise, because when Brown works out, he continues to prove he’s in tremendous shape at age 32. The running and pass-catching aren’t the issues, or he would have either stayed with the Raiders or the Patriots last season. In both cases, for different reasons, the risks associated with him far outweighed his rewards.

The Ravens aren’t as desperate at wide receiver as those teams were, and have made it a point of late to avoid signing players with troubling baggage. They have made moves over the past two offseasons that say they’re comfortable with youth at the skill positions growing along with Jackson.

Could Brown make the Ravens that much better? Maybe. Could Brown make the Ravens’ worse? Definitely. 

Baltimore won big last season because of Jackson’s play backed by a strong scheme, consistent execution and solid offensive chemistry. Brown is used to teams in Pittsburgh that threw more than 60 percent of the time, seeing plenty of volume. The Ravens, so effective on the ground, passed only 46 percent of the time with Jackson last season. How will Brown respond when he’s not seeing the same targets as he did as the Steelers’ No. 1? Will he hurt or help more in bringing along the young receivers?

The Ravens have plenty of offensive answers without Antonio Brown. There’s little upside in bringing on those questions.

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