The Baltimore Ravens are in need at wide receiver, and the Los Angeles Rams are planning on releasing Tavon Austin. Could he fit in in Baltimore?
The Baltimore Ravens are in need at wide receiver, and the Los Angeles Rams are reportedly planning on releasing Tavon Austin, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora on Twitter. But could Austin fit in Baltimore?
There’s no doubt the Baltimore Ravens have a significant need at wide receiver, as it was one of their weakest positions last season.
Jeremy Maclin and Joe Flacco never quite developed the chemistry that many had hoped they would, not to mention Maclin dealt with some injuries. Mike Wallace performed fairly well, but now he and Michael Campanaro are both going to be free agents this offseason, and there’s talk that the Baltimore Ravens might release Maclin and Danny Woodhead to increase their salary cap space.
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So we’ve established the need, but would Austin be the right fit? There’s no doubt that he’s an athletically-gifted receiver, he has been his entire NFL career, it’s part of the reason he was drafted with the eighth-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he’s had trouble taking that athleticism and turning it into significant production on the field.
He was an everyday starter for the Rams in 2015 and 2016, and that didn’t really turn into much. He finished 2015 with 52 catches for 473 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 9.1 yards per catch, and he finished 2016 with 58 catches for 509 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 8.8 yards per catch.
However, there is the dual-threat aspect of Austin’s game in that he’s a decent runner. The Rams often liked to have him rush in a reverse play or other designed play, and he ended 2015 with 52 carries for 434 yards and four touchdowns as a result.
Now, the argument could very easily be made that Austin has been hampered by a bad Rams offense. The 2015 Rams offense was led by a mix of Nick Foles and Case Keenum, neither of whom had much success under head coach Jeff Fisher.
Similarly, the 2016 Rams were led by a mix of Keenum and Jared Goff in Goff’s rookie season and Fisher’s final season as head coach.
Last year, the Rams proved to be a fairly potent offense under new head coach Sean McVay, and Goff really started to take some major steps forward as a passer, but Austin was relegated to a minor role on the offense behind new receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. As a result, Austin ended the season with just 13 catches for 47 yards and 59 rushes for 270 yards and a touchdown.
Put Austin in an offense with Joe Flacco and perhaps he’ll succeed better than he has in the past, that’s certainly an argument you could make. Adding Austin would definitely add another dimension to the Baltimore Ravens’ offense, giving them an athletic player who can catch and run, but he’s also fairly unproven to this point.
For whatever it’s worth, La Canfora adds in his tweet that Austin coming to his hometown of Baltimore remains unlikely, but if he’s at the right price, the Ravens should strongly consider him.