Ravens, wide receiver Rashod Bateman agree to contract extension through 2026

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Ravens, wide receiver Rashod Bateman agree to contract extension through 2026

Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh talked up wide receiver Rashod Bateman this offseason, suggesting the fourth-year player is in line for a breakout 2024 season.

Wednesday’s news that the Ravens have verbally agreed to terms on a contract extension with Bateman is the latest show of faith. Terms of the deal aren’t known, but when it’s officially signed, Bateman will be under contract through 2026.

A first-round pick out of the University of Minnesota in 2021, Bateman was entering the final full season on his rookie contract. Wednesday’s deal comes a week before decisions on fifth-year options for 2021 first-round picks are due around the league.

“This is a good day for the Ravens,” DeCosta said in a statement released by the team.

The Ravens have drafted six receivers in the first round in team history, and Bateman is the first to get a second contract.

The agreement with Bateman comes at a time when there were some questions about Baltimore’s plans at wide receiver heading into the 2024 NFL Draft. The Ravens lost Odell Beckham Jr. and Devin Duvernay from last year’s wide receiver corps, leaving them thin at the position.

Zay Flowers, a first-round pick last year, Bateman and re-signed veteran Nelson Agholor are the team’s top three wideouts, but the team will likely draft at least one more pass catcher later this week. However, extending Bateman adds some stability to the position room moving forward.

Bateman, 24, caught 32 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown in 16 games (12 starts) last season. While he put up modest numbers, the Ravens felt he made significant strides by remaining healthy. Bateman’s rookie season in 2021 started late after he needed abdominal surgery during training camp. In his second year in 2022, a foot injury ended Bateman’s season after just six games.

Metrics also suggest that Bateman was doing a good job of getting open last year. Pro Football Focus had Bateman with high “separation” grades, but he and quarterback Lamar Jackson had difficulties connecting throughout the season. After the season ended, Harbaugh disagreed with the notion that Bateman and Jackson weren’t on the same page.

At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Harbaugh predicted that Bateman would take a “big step” in the upcoming season.

“Rashod is going to get opportunities this year,” Harbaugh said. “He ran routes really well. He worked super hard. He was healthy for the first time — even as the year went on, he got healthier, and you could see it in his play. The ball got to him. When it did, he made some great plays. The ball is going to get to him a lot more next year. He’s going to be ready to go.”



Ravens’ Rashod Bateman hasn’t had his breakout, but he’s made several breakthroughs

Bateman had a tumultuous 2023 season. He criticized DeCosta last March on social media, telling the general manager to worry about taking better care of the players. He quickly deleted the post and later said he hashed things out with DeCosta. When he reported for training camp, Bateman’s surgically repaired foot was not responding as well as anybody had hoped.

He ultimately turned the corner physically, but consistently being involved in the Ravens’ offense was a challenge. In the 18 games he played, including the playoffs, Bateman was targeted three times or fewer in 11 of them. He played just 57 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

However, Beckham’s departure, coupled with the Ravens’ decision not to target a veteran wide receiver in free agency, leaves Bateman as the team’s clear No. 2 wideout behind Flowers heading into the season. Bateman also should be even healthier in 2024, as he’s another year removed from foot surgery.

(Photo: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)