Three takeaways from Ravens WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s introductory news conference

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The newest Raven, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., took questions for more than 35 minutes at his introductory news conference Thursday, discussing why he chose Baltimore, the state of his rehabilitated knee and quarterback Lamar Jackson’s future with the franchise.

Flanked by coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta, Beckham commanded this new stage like the star he is. But what did we actually learn from his words? Here are three takeaways:


The Ravens wooed Odell Beckham Jr. not just with money, but by making him feel wanted.

Owner Steve Bisciotti closed this deal.

DeCosta had pitched Beckham and his agent, Zeke Sandhu, since last October, when it seemed as if the three-time Pro Bowl selection might play the last few weeks of the 2022 season. “We went into it knowing we were underdogs,” DeCosta said Thursday.


With the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams still pursuing Beckham over the past month, that might have remained the case had Bisciotti not reached out to the star wide receiver directly. After they spoke, Beckham said he texted Sandhu: “I want to be a Raven.”

“Him reaching out was probably what put it over the edge,” Beckham said Thursday. “We just chopped it up as two men talking.”

Bisciotti backed his words with $15 million in guaranteed money, more than any other team seemed likely to pay for a 30-year-old pass catcher who missed the entire 2022 season as he recovered from surgery on his torn ACL. We would be foolish to discount cash as a motivator for the deal, but Beckham talked over and over about how the Ravens made him feel wanted. Their ardor for him was evident from Bisciotti’s direct involvement.

“After two minutes in Arizona sitting across the table from him, I had no doubt this was the right guy for our team,” DeCosta said, bringing an emotional tinge to his description of negotiating with Beckham.

This signing seemed to mean more to the team’s brain trust than your typical bit of offseason business. Perhaps it’s because Bisciotti and DeCosta believe Beckham will turn the tide in extension negotiations with Jackson, who celebrated the move on social media. Perhaps it’s because Beckham became the first superstar wide receiver in a long time to take the Ravens’ money after years of talk that their offense was a graveyard for aerial production. Perhaps it’s because the franchise simply needed a public relations win after months of gloomy headlines around Jackson.

Beckham’s introduction brought a crackle to the team’s facility at Owings Mills. He flashed his megawatt smile as he watched his young son play in the team auditorium. A robust crowd of reporters shouted over one another to pose questions. He answered each with ease and humor. Beckham made Baltimore feel like center stage.

“It’s good to be where you feel wanted,” he said.

The good will could dissipate if Beckham suffers another injury or if he becomes dissatisfied with his place in the team’s offense, factors that led to his breakups with other franchises. For now, however, the Ravens have made him feel the love he sought, and he has given them a jolt of optimism in uncertain times.

Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. took questions for more than 35 minutes at his introductory news conference Thursday, discussing why he chose Baltimore, the state of his rehabilitated knee and quarterback Lamar Jackson’s future with the franchise.

Jackson helped bring Beckham to the Ravens, but there’s no guarantee they’ll play together.

It’s impossible to assess the Beckham signing outside the greater context of the Ravens’ quest to sign their quarterback to a long-term deal. They announced their agreement with Beckham 13 days after Jackson tweeted that he had requested a trade on March 2. Jackson’s enthusiasm about his possible new target — expressed in a FaceTime call they shared Sunday — was the first sign in months that he might still be eager to pursue a Super Bowl with the Ravens.

It would not make sense for the Ravens to spend $15 million for one season of work from a veteran pass catcher if they’re not planning to chase a championship with Jackson as their centerpiece.

Beckham acknowledged that the prospect of playing with Jackson was a selling point: “The goal was to come here and have that possibility.”

He was also careful to say Jackson offered him no assurances he would be throwing passes for the Ravens come September. “I would assume it’s going to work out,” Beckham said, noting he was confident that Harbaugh and DeCosta want to build around Jackson, who has the right to sign an offer sheet with another team under the $32.4 million nonexclusive franchise tag the Ravens placed on him last month.

DeCosta and Harbaugh reiterated their commitment to Jackson. “We only think of Lamar as the quarterback of this team,” DeCosta said.

Beckham grew up rooting for Michael Vick and said it’s thrilling to consider hooking up with Vick’s stylistic successor in Jackson. He brushed off criticisms of the Ravens’ passing offense, saying it’s obvious to him Jackson can make any throw on the field.


At the same time, he shared some of his hard-won perspective on the business of football, gleaned from his scrutinized extension negotiations with the New York Giants earlier in his career.

“It’s a very thin line and it’s your heart that’s involved,” he said. “You feel like you’ve done so much and you deserve this, and then the business side gets in the way. It’s just the nature of the business we’re in. There’s no written script for it or how to handle it or how to deal with it. But I could definitely tell he was excited about the opportunity to get to work [together] if that does present itself. At the end of the day, he’s obviously who I’d love to play with.”

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In other words, the Beckham signing might have parted the clouds around the Ravens’ stalled negotiations with their most important player, but it’s not a one-dose elixir for a standoff that has frustrated both sides.

The Ravens and Beckham are confident his knee will be good to go when the regular season starts in five months.

Beckham described the “bittersweet” experience of catching a touchdown pass in Super Bowl 56 only to reinjure his ACL before he could complete the victorious mission with his teammates. He lived through “dark days” in the aftermath of his surgery, his second on the knee he initially injured while playing for the Cleveland Browns in 2020.

Health is the second greatest question, after Jackson’s status, hovering over the Ravens’ Beckham experiment. He has played a full season just once since 2016.

DeCosta dispatched pass game specialist Keith Williams to watch Beckham work out in Arizona last month. “We saw everything we needed to see,” he said. “Knowing that it’s only going to get better.”


Beckham said he recently turned a corner toward feeling fully healthy and agreed with DeCosta that an additional five months of preparation will be invaluable. “I’m not worried about coming back from this,” he said. “I came back from it before.”

That was a key point for DeCosta. He watched Beckham look like “the best player on the field in the Super Bowl” about 16 months after he hurt his knee the first time. Beckham said his ACL was never fully healthy as he put together that triumphant run for the Rams. His implication seemed clear: If he could help deliver a championship on a bum ligament, what might he do this year, after 19 months spent strengthening his knee?

DeCosta, for one, expressed no reservations: “This was the guy we felt could take us to the next level.”