Aiken Has Taken Role of Chain-Mover Photograph by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

Street Talk Aiken Has Taken Role of Chain-Mover

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In a season where nothing has gone as planned, there is still a lot of fight left in the 2015 Baltimore Ravens.

The injury bug has certainly taken a massive chunk out of the roster’s marquee players leaving John Harbaugh and company with a cast of “no name characters” to fill the void.

While the results have been up and down, the adversity placed on the organization has given and will continue to give the front office a look at players over their five remaining games who should return next season.

Per RSR salary cap guru Brian McFarland, the Ravens currently have 46 players under contract for the 2016 season (click on the 2016 tab at the bottom of the page). Some of those players will be back and some won’t. It’s the nature of the beast in a league that requires teams to shed valuable cap space for the seasons ahead.

An important decision will need to be made at the wide receiver position. 2015 first round draft pick Breshad Perriman failed to see the field in his first year due to injury. His sixth round counterpart, Darren Waller, was also placed on Injured Reserve. Michael Campanaro was productive when healthy, but a back injury landed him on IR. Veteran wideout and arguably the offensive MVP Steve Smith Sr. had a similar fate after tearing his Achilles.

Which leaves just Marlon Brown, Chris Givens (acquired in trade with Rams) and journeyman receiver Kamar Aiken to shoulder the load.

Brown’s play has spiraled downward. The former undrafted receiver out of Georgia has struggled with dropped passes. It’s crystal clear the Ravens aren’t happy with his output; he was seeing fewer and fewer reps prior to his latest back injury and the emergence of Givens.

Brown is one of two offensive restricted free agents the Ravens have in 2016. It’s doubtful that the Ravens will tender him.

The second restricted free agent, Kamar Aiken should however return in 2016 and be rewarded for his efforts.

While clearly not a number one receiver, Aiken has stepped up admirably following the loss of Smith Sr. for the season. Appearing in 11 games so far in 2015, Aiken has notched 43 receptions (75 targets) for 536 yards and four touchdowns.

His biggest value to Marc Trestman and the offense is his ability to take over the chain-mover void that was left by Smith Sr. The 6’2, 215 pound Aiken has manufactured 35 first downs.

The Ravens certainly have many offseason issues to address with the receiving position being a major one, Aiken however deserves to return.

When the Ravens offer Aiken a tender this offseason, another team may feel like he showcased his ability this season and make him an offer. The Ravens would have just seven days to match the offer. If they don’t, they would receive compensation based on the tender that they offer Aiken.

Per McFarland,

*1st Round Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of a 1st round – $3.586M (est)
* 2nd Round Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of 2nd round pick – $2.52M (est)
* Low Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of a draft pick equal to the round in which the player was originally drafted or the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) for an undrafted player – $1.65M (est)

While the Ravens would receive compensation, given their history of success at the receiver position it would be wise for them to lock Aiken up early as he has proven himself as a capable number two and three receiver.

 

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Brian Bower

About Brian Bower

Brian Bower is avid football fan, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He has covered the Baltimore Ravens and NFL player positives in the community for the past 6 years. This will be his 3rd season with the Russell Street Report. His work has been featured on NFL.com, ESPN blogs, Comcast SportsNet Baltimore, as well as the Baltimore Ravens web page. He is also a regular guest on local radio and ESPN Radio in Honolulu, Hawaii. Brian is very involved in the community and has spent the last twenty years as a volunteer firefighter. Email him at [email protected]

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