News over the weekend that the Ravens were one of several teams interested in Reggie Wayne caught some fans’ attention. Some level of excitement probably came along with that.
It is understandable. Over the past decade, he has been one of the most sure-handed wide receivers in the game. He may be headed for Canton one day.
But this morning, Aaron Wilson reported that the Ravens would likely not be pursuing Wayne’s services.
While that may disappoint some fans, it’s the right move. The Ravens are better off in both the long- and short-term without Reggie Wayne, James Jones, or any other free agent veteran receiver still on the market.
Wayne will turn 37 this season. While he may still be a fit for some teams, it’s not the Ravens. He finished with the fewest catches (64) and yards (779) since his sophomore year in 2002. He hasn’t been the same player since he tore his ACL halfway through the 2013 season.
The next best available receiver on the market is James Jones, who was released by the Raiders in May. The fact that Jones was released by the Oakland Raiders of all teams should tell you everything that you need to know. Aside from the top receiver in this year’s draft, Amari Cooper, the Raiders receiver depth chart consists of Michael Crabtree and a handful of journeyman receivers.
Jones couldn’t make it amongst that group.
Aside from any flaws that Wayne, Jones or even Wes Welker may have at this point in their career, there’s an even more important reason that the Ravens should pass on any receivers still available.
They need to find out what they have in some of the younger players on the roster.
The Ravens spent a first round pick on Breshad Perriman. They hope that he can turn into the elite, top tier receiver they’ve been missing. Jeremy Butler stood out more than any player in OTA’s for the second straight year. DeAndre Carter flashed skills as both a receiver and a returner, and it appears Steve Smith has taken him under his wing. If Michael Campanaro can stay healthy, he can help in the return game and possesses the skill to fill a hole in the slot, which is very much up for grabs. John Harbaugh is predicting a breakout year for Marlon Brown, and coaches are extremely high on Kamar Aiken.
If the Ravens bring in a player on a one year contract, these questions may again go unanswered until 2016. Or worse, the Ravens cut a player who then goes and breaks out on another team.
It appears that the Ravens are content to let their young receivers battle it out in camp, and that’s the right call. While it may not be as exciting for fans today, it’s in the best interest of the team in both 2015 and beyond.