Among the Ravens needs coming into the 2018 season, Tight End should be front and center. Well… front-ish & center-ish. Like Wide Receiver is 1A, but Tight End is right there at 1B.
Here’s a quick look back at the mediocrity that was the 2017 Ravens Tight Ends:
Ben Watson: 37 years old, coming off an ACL injury, still managed to lead the team in receptions (61) & was second in yards (522).
Nick Boyle: Big props for not doing any performance enhancing drugs for once!
Maxx Williams: Fewer yards (86) than the number on his jersey (87), and a potentially game-changing fumble in the Red Zone in the loss to Chicago that ended up being pretty important.
Vince Mayle: Kinda? I mean he was a Wide Receiver, then suddenly a Tight End, but also never caught a single pass, yet rushed for a 1 yard TD?
Pitta/Gillmore/Waller: All missed the entire season. Darren Waller’s season-long suspension likely ended his NFL career, Dennis Pitta’s hip injury (again) likely ended his NFL career, and Crockett Gillmore’s knee injury/perpetual banged-up-ness ended with a preseason pink slip.
Looking ahead to 2018, Gillmore & Watson are free agents, Pitta & Waller are likely done in the NFL, Mayle is an ERFA but I can’t imagine the Ravens offer him anything, which leaves 2 TE’s on the Ravens 2018 roster:
Maxx Williams & Nick Boyle.
It’s okay to cry. We’re not here to judge you.
So what should the Ravens do to fill the gaping void, not only in depth, but in actual talent? Where can they find a guy who can run routes, get open & catch passes (not Maxx), and a guy who isn’t one ‘oops I thought it was a Flinstones vitamin!’ away from a year-long suspension (not Boyle)?
Of course the Ravens could look to the draft, but I’m not interested in going that route. I mean IF they did decided to draft a starting Tight End, it’s obvious that the Ravens should take the top Tight End at 16, which is… (checks, like, a dozen mocks)… hell if I know. One mock says Mark Andrews (Oklahoma) is the top dog, while another says Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State), a third says Hayden Hurst (South Carolina) and none of the mocks I’ve seen have the same top-5 order of Tight Ends. And to make it worse, I’ve seen some mocks where Goedert is just outside of the top 20… then the next mock he’s the 5th best TE going in the end of Round 3? And he’s no anomaly – it’s the same for all of the Tight Ends, as the collective draft class looks like a total crap shoot, with no clear-cut, Day 1 starter to be had.
Instead, I think the Ravens look to Free Agency, where a total friggin’ gem is waiting to be embraced by Baltimore.
No, not injury-prone Jimmy Graham.
Also no, not Trey Burton who likely get a hefty contract for looking good in a single game when Zach Ertz was hurt.
So who is this mystery, savior at Tight End?
That’s right. Antonio. Freakin’. GATES.
I know what you’re going to say…
Funny thing though… you know who else was old? Shannon Sharpe when he was a Raven (32-33), Owen Daniels for his brief stint in Baltimore(32), and most recently, Ben Watson (37). The Ravens & past-prime Tight Ends go together like John Harbaugh and .
Before you start spouting fallacies about Gates being washed up, let me give you 5 reasons why he makes perfect sense for the Ravens in 2018 (I honestly arbitrarily picked 5, but I’m a man of my word, so hopefully I can give 5 legit reasons):
- HE’S CHEAP! A 38-year-old Gates will likely net a 2-year deal with Baltimore, but shouldn’t cost a ton at all, leaving the Ravens room to make other much needed moves (WR)
- HE’S STILL GOOD! Yes, he only had 316 yards & 3 TD’s in ’17, but that was behind Hunter Henry & with a healthy Keenan Allen stealing targets. In Baltimore he’d be a TE1 with NO wideouts stealing targets!
- HE MAKES SENSE FOR HARBS’ LAST STAND! Harbaugh is clearly within striking range of the pitchforks. He needs to win to keep his job, so why risk a rookie? Get the vet in here to maximize weapons!
- WOODY & WEDDLE CAN RECRUIT GATES! All 3 are long time Bolts – send the 2 Ravens out to the left coast to recruit Gates to join us!
- YOU HAVE NO OTHER OPTIONS! Look at the free agent pool – we can’t afford Graham, nor Burton, and unless you want Ed Dickson to come back? Gates is clearly your best bet!
Bonus #6- A real veteran Tight End like Gates could help groom a rookie if the Ravens should chose to draft one as well. And hell, if both play well you can bounce Maxx out of town. But don’t feel bad for Maxx – a name with multiple X’s is a perfect fit for the XFL in 2020. He’ll go by “Madd Maxx,’ or maybe add an extra X to his name and get a Triple X tat on his neck.
At the end of the day, Antonio Gates to Baltimore is literally the perfect fit. Not adding the proven vet would be foolish, and I hope he’s being recruited by his former teammates already…
WOODY & WEDDLE- I KNOW YOU CAN’T SAY YOU’RE RECRUITING GATES, BUT IF YOU ARE JUST SHARE THE POST… like a little wink face emoji with a Retweet would work, and it’s not tampering so you’re all clear!
What do you guys think? Am I onto something? Or am I ON something? Let me know.