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Marquise Brown’s 5th Year Option

Marquise Brown tweet
Original Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Back on November 7, 2021 the Ravens opened up the second half against the Vikings down 17-10. They had momentum on their side, having closed the first half with a TD at the 0:19 mark to narrowed the gap to seven. But then the second half started.

Thirteen seconds after Justin Tucker put the ball in play with a kickoff to start the half, Kene Nwangwu scampered 98 yards to put the Vikings up 24-10. The score was clearly a huge momentum swing and the return severely tested the Ravens resolve. But they had an answer, fought through and eventually won the game 34-31 to advance to (6-2) on the season.

The game was a productive one for Marquise Brown who posted 9 catches for 116 yards, 7 catches and 103 yards in the second half. Unfortunately that was the last time Brown cracked the century mark in receiving yards. Since that game, Brown has dressed seven times, hauled in 42 of 69 targets for 299 yards and 0 TDs while averaging an anemic 7.1 yards per catch (“YPC”), 4.33 yards per target.

Now granted, Lamar Jackson, with whom Brown has an outstanding rapport, hasn’t played in 3 of the aforementioned seven games, but his YPC are an indictment on either the offense as a whole, Brown, the fill-in QB or all of the above.

If this past Sunday’s game against the Rams is any indication, Brown and Tyler Huntley aren’t always on the same page. And clearly, given Brown’s business decision to not participate in stopping Jordan Fuller’s INT return, suggests that he is frustrated.

This isn’t the first time Brown has expressed frustration during periods of limited production.

 

Marquise Brown tweet

Prior to this recent 7-game slump as it relates to yards per catch, Brown averaged a respectable 14.8 YPC on 46 receptions. The challenge for the Ravens is to decide whether or not the Marquise Brown they have moving forward is the player before or after the slump.

How about neither!

When the Ravens offense reconvenes – and I’m talking the REAL Ravens offense with a healthy Lamar Jackson, a healthy Ronnie Stanley, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Nick Boyle, I think Brown is capable of numbers better than 14.8 YPC. A more formidable running game commands respect from opposing defenses, it invites more effective play action and those things combined with Lamar’s early season progression as a passer and a better offensive line enable a more explosive passing game.

That said, the Ravens have to be certain, because a decision looms regarding Brown’s future with the club. He will soon be entering his fourth season as a Raven and therefore Eric DeCosta & Co. will have to determine if Brown is worthy of the fifth year option. Clubs can begin exercising such options on January 10, 2022. The deadline for submission is May 2. The NFL Draft is April 28-30.

[Related Article: Greg Roman Must Go!]

This past offseason, the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons exercised fifth-year options on D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley, respectively. Those options paid $11.116M each and are fully guaranteed once the club exercises the option. Marquise Brown was the 25th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Moore was 2018’s 24th overall pick while Ridley was taken at No. 26. Due to a few large wide receiver deals signed since these options were exercised, RSR Capologist Brian McFarland believes a similar option for Brown will be in the $13M range.

When all is said and done, it’s easy to understand Brown’s frustrations. Things were going quite well early on (save the drops in Detroit) and there was reason to believe that he was on his way to secure his financial future. But the second half drop in production hurts his market value, for now. When the offense is at full strength, the Ravens can get a better read. The only trouble is, to fully secure Brown in 2023 (he’s on his rookie deal through 2022) they’ll have to exercise that option by May 2. Otherwise 2022 becomes a contract season for Marquise.

This is one of many challenges awaiting DeCosta this offseason.

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