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Ravens take big swing on $15 million deal with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

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The Ravens took a major swing at the wide receiver position on Sunday.

The kind they haven’t taken in years.

General manager Eric DeCosta has agreed in principle to a one-year deal worth up to $18 million with three-time Pro Bowl selection Odell Beckham Jr., the steepest financial commitment Baltimore has made at the wide receiver position since the days of Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason. According to NFL Network, the deal is worth $15 million guaranteed and includes a $13.835 million signing bonus and up to $3 million in incentives. The Ravens had dialogue with Beckham dating back to last season and met with him during the owner meetings in Arizona two weeks ago. The New York Jets had also been pursuing the standout receiver in recent weeks and were reportedly scheduled to meet with him this week.

Beckham, 30, sat out last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in Super Bowl LVI, the same injury to the same knee he sustained during the 2020 season with Cleveland. That leaves fair questions about Beckham’s health at this stage of his career, but there’s no denying his upside after he played well in the 2021 postseason — 21 receptions for 288 yards and two touchdowns on 26 targets — for the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. The 5-foot-11, 198-pound Beckham registered 1,000-yard seasons in five of his first six years in the NFL, a stretch that included at least 1,300 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons with the New York Giants after he was the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft out of LSU.

Having played for Todd Monken in Cleveland in 2019, Beckham received a strong endorsement after the new Ravens offensive coordinator was asked about him during his introductory press conference in February. Despite the Browns’ disappointing 2019 season, the 57-year-old Monken praised Beckham for his work ethic and suggested he’s received a bad rap over the years.

“He wants the ball. Well, really? I don’t know where I’ve been where a great player didn’t want the ball,” Monken said. “I don’t know where a basketball player didn’t want shots or a baseball player didn’t want to get at-bats. That’s what they want; they want opportunities to showcase their ability. I think it’s awesome. I think he’s tremendously skilled, and I like his personality. He likes to compete.

“He has a tough deal though because — in my opinion, and he may think differently — it’s tough being a face. Does that make sense? Like NBA [players] deal with it all the time, but there are very few NFL players — outside of the quarterback — that they really know their face.”

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While the Ravens were clearly sold on Beckham and his ability to still play at a high level, the question now becomes how much his arrival will ultimately improve their standing with star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who requested a trade on March 2 and remains unsigned after receiving the non-exclusive franchise tag worth $32.4 million. Many were skeptical about the Ravens’ ability to land a veteran wide receiver like Beckham with the uncertainty surrounding Jackson’s status, but $15 million guaranteed currently ranks 21st in average annual value among wide receivers, the kind of lucrative compensation that would make a player with his own questions marks more likely to sign up for 2023.

This is the second addition the Ravens have made at wide receiver this offseason after signing Nelson Agholor to a one-year, $3.25 million deal last month. Those are the only two outside additions DeCosta has made since the start of the new league year in mid-March.

Beckham confirmed his agreement with Baltimore on his Instagram account and seemingly made a pitch to Jackson in the process with a photo of his son, Zydn, wearing a Ravens cap and a No. 8 Baltimore jersey. A couple hours later, the 2019 NFL MVP followed up with an Instagram post of his own indicating the two had shared a FaceTime call, prompting excitement from a fan base that’s felt no shortage of frustration this offseason.

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