Ravens Lamar Jackson still hoping team signs Antonio Brown
Earlier this offseason back in April, Baltimore Ravens quarterback and 2019 league MVP Lamar Jackson took part in an on-field throwing session in his home state of Florida with his teammate Marquise Hollywood Brown and his cousin, free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown. A few weeks after photos of the trio posing after the workout, Jackson said he’d be “happy” if his team signed the four-time All-Pro to join his younger cousin as one of his targets this season.
In his first press conference of training camp on Wednesday three months after he made those comments Brown remains unsigned and the Ravens have been linked as a potential landing spot for Brown in the rumor mills. Jackson reaffirmed his desire to play with him when asked about the possibility.
“It was nice throwing to Antonio Brown,” Jackson said. “I was hoping we would get him. I’m still hoping, a little bit.”
As great as the idea of pairing one of the best receivers in NFL history and the most dominant of the past decade with arguably the most dynamic talent at the quarterback position that the league has ever seen sounds like a great idea and dream come true for any offense, there is a reason that Brown remains unsigned in late July.
He is still under investigation by the league office for several off the field transgressions including sexual assault, assault, and other incidents for misconduct. There’s been no verdict or updates from the league much to Brown’s chagrin but at this point, there is no telling if or how long he would be suspended for violating the personal conduct policy.
Last offseason Brown forced his way out of Pittsburgh by burning every last bridge he had with the Steelers and wound up getting traded to the Raiders. The drama didn’t stop there even though he got his wish and was given a new deal. He ended up voiding his contract with Oakland—now Las Vegas and signed with the Patriots shortly after that.
He only suited up for one game for the then reigning champions before news of his off the field legal troubles were made public. He hasn’t played since Week Two of last year yet Jackson came away from the workout impressed by both the AB the player and AB the person.
“Around us, he was a great guy,” Jackson said. “You don’t really see anything going on at all. He was a cool, down-to-earth guy. He’s passionate about the sport of football. When he was working, you could tell this man is going to go 24/7.”
Jackson was also impressed by the 32-year-old receiver getting a weight lifting session before and after they hit the field.
“I was like, ‘Dang, this guy, there’s no quitting with him.’ That’s the type of guy we need in our locker room,” Jackson said.
“I feel like the locker room here is different from any other locker room. There’s a brotherhood going on, there’s none of that outside noise. It’s strictly inside; we worry about each other, we worry about what we have going on, we want to win. I can tell in him he wants to win. He wants to play ball.”
While you have to love Jackson’s optimism and confidence in his team’s culture and locker room, Brown has proven to be more trouble than he’s worth. He was locker room cancer according to former teammates at end of his tenure with the Steelers, a massive distraction for a Raiders team that tried their best to cater to his every whim and the Patriots cut their loses before he could derail their hot start to their title defense after he wasn’t forthcoming with his looming legal troubles.
Last month NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported that the Ravens were one of two teams—the other being the Seattle Seahawks—that had serious “internal discussions” about possibly bringing in Brown. Seahawks franchise quarterback Russell Wilson also got together with Brown this offseason for a private throwing session somewhere in southern California. He too liked what he saw and has endorsed the idea of bringing him aboard.
Jackson shared that he did speak with team officials about the controversial and infamously temperamental Brown.
“Yeah, they saw the videos and stuff like that,” Jackson said. “They asked me and I told them the same response that I just told you guys.”
Last week Brown announced via social media that he was walking away from the game and officially retiring only to days later, via the same medium, express his desire to continue his playing career as well as his frustration in what he believes is the stagnation of league’s private investigation.
He demands that they come to a conclusion in the very near future so that he and whatever team is still seriously considering signing him can have clarity about any potential punishment, suspension, or lack thereof. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reported on Monday that according to “rumblings around the league”, Brown could have a final decision sometime this week.
The likelihood of the Ravens signing Brown or any other veteran receiver still on the market is low since they are expecting breakout seasons from their two second-year receivers, including Brown’s cousin, and the fact that they drafted a pair of receivers in this year’s draft that they like and need all the reps they can get in training camp to get ready for the regular season after a virtual offseason.
The much more likely scenario is the team bring in some veteran talent to compete with undrafted rookie Eli Wolf for the third tight end spot on the depth chart now that his chief competition, fellow undrafted rookie Jacob Breeland, is expected to miss the entire 2020 season.