The Ravens gave Rashod Bateman an extension, and now there's pressure on him to deliver

FILE - Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman runs a route against the Houston Texans during an NFL football AFC divisional playoff game Jan. 20, 2024, in Baltimore. Bateman's new contract came as a bit of a surprise this offseason — to the Baltimore receiver himself. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Rashod Bateman's new contract came as a bit of a surprise this offseason — to the Baltimore receiver himself.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen with me. I didn’t know if I was going to be here, traded or anything,” Bateman said. “That extension definitely came out of nowhere. I’m blessed, for sure. I did not see them doing that.”

Bateman has had his moments during his three seasons with the Ravens, but injuries prevented him from making a consistent impact early on. Then in 2023 he was mostly healthy but finished sixth on the team in yards receiving. Still, Baltimore gave him a two-year contract extension in April, and with Odell Beckham Jr. no longer in the fold, the Ravens may need more from Bateman in the future.

“It shows that they believe in me, believe in my work, my ethic, the team believes in me,” Bateman said. “I love playing here. I love this organization. I love the fans. So I feel like I've still got a lot to do.”

The Ravens took Bateman in the first round in 2021 out of Minnesota. He was limited to 12 games as a rookie but still caught 46 passes for 515 yards. Then his second season ended after six games because of foot problems. He played 16 games last season, with 32 catches for 367 yards.

Baltimore had a decision to make this offseason on what to do about Bateman's fifth-year option. He hadn't made the choice obvious with his performance.

For example, Nico Collins — drafted two rounds after Bateman in 2021 — received a big three-year extension recently after an impressive season with the Houston Texans. Collins had 1,297 yards receiving in 2023 — more than Bateman has produced in his three seasons total.

“I wouldn’t say it’s untapped potential. The ball just hasn’t found him in situations," receivers coach Greg Lewis said. “He comes out here every day and shows what he’s capable of doing, whether it’s practice and then when he gets opportunities in the game, he does that. It’s just about more and more opportunities, and then more and more production will come from him.”

The Ravens ultimately decided to give Bateman an extension through 2026.

“I am extremely excited to watch Rashod this year. I think his best football is ahead of him,” general manager Eric DeCosta said shortly after reaching the deal. “So, to get him back was kind of a no-brainer. It’s something he wanted. It’s something we wanted.”

The Ravens have drafted other receivers since Bateman, including Zay Flowers in the first round in 2023 and Devontez Walker in the fourth this year. Flowers was quite good as a rookie last season.

But Beckham left for Miami, and it appears Bateman will have every opportunity to produce the breakout season that's eluded him so far.

“I’m just blessed to be healthy. I’m not worried about how many balls I get. I’m not worried about if (offensive coordinator) Todd Monken calls the play for me," Bateman said. “The only thing that I can control, man, is what I control, and that’s getting open when I can, blocking when I can.”

Monken expects Bateman to benefit from a healthy offseason, which he didn't really have last year. It's clear the 24-year-old receiver still has plenty of ability.

On Thursday after practice, rookie cornerback Nate Wiggins — Baltimore's first-round pick this year — was asked who the toughest Ravens receiver is to go up against in practice.

“Probably Bateman,” Wiggins said. "He’s just shifty (and) has a lot of quickness in the route.”