It’s no secret that the Ravens offense was bad last year, so they’ll seek to get better this year in every way possible. The draft is deep with wide receivers and offensive linemen, two positions from which the Ravens need improvement.
There are also plenty of free agents the Ravens may have their eye on. Wide receivers Anquan Boldin, James Jones, Eric Decker and Julian Edelman could flourish in Baltimore’s offense. Those players have all played in a Super Bowl in the last four years, so they’ll be able to quickly identify with Baltimore’s aspirations.
Regardless of what they do in the draft, the Ravens will at least explore the possibility of signing free agent wide receivers and free agent offensive linemen.
We’ll look at the best free agent offensive linemen later this week. For now, let’s take a look at which free agent wide outs Baltimore should pursue.
• 2013 stats (w/ San Francisco): 85 receptions, 1,179 yards, 8 touchdowns
• 2013 cap hit: $6 million
• Why Baltimore should sign him: Boldin came up enormous for the Ravens in their run to the Super Bowl XLVII championship. He wasn’t bad during the 2012 regular season either. While he will turn 34 on October 3, he doesn’t play like most 34-year olds. The key here would be getting him back at the right price, which for Baltimore is not $6 million.
• 2013 stats (w/ Green Bay): 59 receptions, 817 yards, 3 touchdowns
• 2013 cap hit: $3.75 million
• Why Baltimore should sign him: Jones is built like Boldin. He can play in the slot and can make tough catches along the boundary and in the end zone. He’ll likely see a lot of 1-on-1 coverage after defenses account for Torrey Smith, Ray Rice and Dennis Pitta (assuming he stays in Baltimore). Also since he had a “down” year, he shouldn’t expect a big contract.
• 2013 stats (w/ Denver): 87 receptions, 1,288 yards, 11 touchdowns
• 2013 cap hit: $1,506,037
• Why Baltimore should sign him: Many people think that just because Decker played with Peyton Manning, he had a breakout year. I say that while having Manning as your quarterback boosts your value, it doesn’t make you something you’re not. Unfortunately Decker could be asking for a new contract in the neighborhood of $8-10 million per year.
• 2013 stats (w/ New England): 105 receptions, 1,056 yards, 6 touchdowns
• 2013 cap hit: $765,000
• Why Baltimore should sign him: Edelman plays like a Raven. He’s tough, football savvy, dependable and also returns punts. With Jacoby Jones’ status as an unrestricted free agent the Ravens might consider replacing the Super Bowl XLVII hero and dual threat with the very capable Edelman.
With approximately $11.4 million in cap space, the Ravens should be able to make a bid for the services of Jones or Edelman. Quite frankly, I think Boldin and Decker will ask for more than Baltimore is willing to offer.
It’s my opinion that the Ravens ought to shore up their offensive line first and foremost. But if they think adding a wide receiver to the mix is more important, they’ll obviously do that, despite the fact it’ll be more expensive.
Little to no cap space hasn’t stopped the Ravens from winning before. Let’s see how their front office works its magic again this year. But regardless of which wide receiver is or isn’t signed this offseason, perhaps the best way for Baltimore to jump start its passing game is to get the running game going.
And the key to that as we’ve seen is to re-tool the offensive line.