Rashod Bateman is by no means a general manager. He doesn’t know the ins and outs of the business of the NFL, he just plays in it, he said. So he wasn’t quite sure what to expect heading into this offseason.

Following the Ravens’ AFC championship loss, the receiver didn’t know if he’d be traded, extended or play out his rookie deal. Meanwhile, when asked about Bateman, general manager Eric DeCosta said positive things but stayed mum on Bateman’s future as the deadline to pick up Bateman’s fifth-year option loomed.

On April 24, the Ravens and Bateman signed a two-year, $12.871 million contract extension. The deal was a surprise to the fourth-year receiver.

“The extension definitely came out of nowhere,” Bateman said at organized team activities Tuesday. “Blessed, for sure. I did not see them doing that. But it shows they believe in me, believe in my work, my ethic. The team wants to keep me. So it was a no-brainer.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

On top of that, Bateman feels like he still has a lot to do in Baltimore. His coaches agree. Coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Todd Monken and wide receivers coach Greg Lewis all mentioned the importance of getting the ball in Bateman’s hands more often.

“The ball is going to get to him a lot more next year,” Harbaugh said at his NFL combine press conference, where he named Bateman as a player he thinks will take a big step next season. “He’s going to be ready to go.”

“As the year went on, Rashod really came on, and I’ve seen tremendous growth,” Monken added at OTAs last week. “But again, growth just because he didn’t have an offseason last year, in my mind; I didn’t see that. But I expect a tremendous year [from] him, and we certainly could have found a way to get him the ball more.”

Lewis made clear that he doesn’t see the lack of catches as Bateman’s fault. He said Bateman’s been doing the right things both in practices and games, something that Thee Banner concluded as well in a study of Bateman’s season. He got open a lot, with one of the best separation grades in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, but he either wasn’t targeted or wasn’t thrown a catchable ball.

“I wouldn’t say it’s untapped potential,” Lewis said. “The ball just hasn’t found him in situations. He comes out every day and shows what he’s capable of. ... It’s just about more and more opportunities, and more and more production will come from it.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

View post on X

Bateman said “yes and no” as to whether he agrees with that because he thinks he could have done some things better as a wide receiver. After a pause he added that he’ll “leave it at that.”

Bateman’s potential was on display today, Lewis said. Bateman caught a deep ball from quarterback Josh Johnson, who was acting as the starter in Lamar Jackson’s absence. He also closed Tuesday’s OTAs with a catch just beyond the reaching hands of a defender that elicited reactions from the sidelines.

But it wasn’t Johnson who Bateman had a disconnect with last season. And, barring disaster for the Ravens, Bateman won’t be catching balls from Johnson in games. It was his chemistry with Jackson that was lacking — they had one of the worst downfield connections out of any quarterback-receiver duo in the league. Bateman admitted it was a problem in an interview with Glenn Clark Radio.

“Lamar trusts me,” Bateman said. “I’ve trained with Lamar, I’ve worked out with Lamar, but last year, we did not have that connection. And that’s due to me and my injury.”

While wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers worked out with Jackson in Florida in the offseason, Bateman was simply working on returning to the field. He underwent foot surgery and missed all of training camp in 2023 — but he made it back in time for the season, which not everyone expected.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“For a quarterback, it’s tough,” Bateman told Glenn Clark Radio. “It’s a feeling thing. You’ve got to know your receivers, you’ve got to feel your receivers, and me just coming back, it kind of threw everybody else off schedule and it changed the game plan.”

Monken explained that they prepared through training camp to have Beckham play X receiver, but with Beckham getting hurt and Bateman coming back, they had to switch things up.

Being on the field with his teammates this offseason has already made a difference, Bateman said, pointing out that he hasn’t had a healthy offseason since he got in the league. Although Bateman is not a very vocal guy, Lewis said he’s noticed Bateman’s influence on the receivers around him. He treats practices, workouts and film study with professionalism, and the younger players are learning from his demeanor.

“I’m not really looking to do anything special, particular,” Bateman said. “The only thing I can do is control what I can control and that’s my work ethic every single day. This offseason, I’ve been grinding day in and day out. Hopefully the opportunity comes that I can just put it on.”