The first week and a half of free agency has been quietly productive for the Ravens. They haven’t generated the same headlines as the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins, but that’s business as usual for Ozzie & Company in March.
You know the script. Key players depart, some to cash in, some are let go, and occasionally some are traded. Fans panic, the Jaguars and Bills are lauded as the most improved teams, and the media predicts the Ravens will take a step back the following season. By the time December rolls around the Ravens are competing for the division, and the winners of free agency are trying to figure out what top ten pick they’ll have in the upcoming draft.
As cheesy and played out as it may sound, I buy into the “In Ozzie We Trust” mantra. I drink the purple Kool Aid and trust the process. As brutal as it can be to see great players depart, history speaks for itself and the Ravens usually get it right. When a high priced, high impact free agent signs elsewhere you have to shrug it off and know that Ozzie has an ace up his sleeve.
With all that said it’s hard not to ask the question, “What is the Ravens plan at wide receiver?”
Up to this point there has been no news of the Ravens even entertaining a visit, and despite what Torrey Smith said on his way out the door, the Ravens are not fine at the position. It was a nice gesture for Smith to give his former teammates a vote of confidence before departing for the west coast, but the roster currently lacks a true top threat.
Steve Smith Sr. proved to be one of the best signings of last offseason, but father time is approaching. The 2015 season could very well be his last, and if the Ravens don’t have a viable option on the other side of the field, his production will likely take a big dip this season. He is currently the only pass catcher on the team that had more than 25 receptions in 2014.
Aside from Smith Sr. the three current receivers on the Ravens roster combined for 64 catches for 624 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2014. That unit is made up of Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken and Michael Campanaro.
Brown showed promise in his rookie campaign in 2013. The big-bodied receiver proved to be a valuable red zone threat his first year catching seven touchdowns. Kamar Aiken showed a solid rapport with Joe Flacco last year. He received extended playing time when Torrey was ailing at the end of the year and played well. The Ravens seem to be high on Campanaro but he struggled to stay healthy last year.
All three have a high upside, but all three also lack elite speed. While Torrey Smith never developed into an elite receiver, one thing he could consistently do was threaten defenses down the field. The Ravens have been linked to some speedsters at the bottom end of the first round. But like Torrey Smith coming out of Maryland in 2011, most are considered burners who will need time to adapt to the next level.
The Ravens options on the market are getting thin after it was reported on Thursday that Dwayne Bowe is signing today with the Browns. The best remaining options are Michael Crabtree and Greg Jennings but the clock is ticking.
Ozzie has a plan though, he always does.
There’s no need to panic…..yet.