It’s time for the annual question in Baltimore: What free-agent wide receiver will the team sign next?
As we all know, Steve Smith Sr. has played his final game. He no longer gets to run circles around opposing cornerbacks for the Ravens. Baltimore must find someone new to replace his production going forward.
Also, Kamar Aiken, Smith Sr.’s primary replacement the past two seasons, will at least test the free-agent waters. It was Aiken who stepped up big when Smith Sr. went down with injury in 2015. He ended the year with 75 catches, almost 1,000 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Ideally, Baltimore should want him to stay and take over the possession-type, chain-moving role in the offense since he has proven to be successful in the past. But, after a year where he was under-utilized because of Smith Sr.’s health, he stated he wants to see what the free agent market will give him.
That leaves Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore, Keenan Reynolds, and Michael Campanero on the current roster. This group is very fast, yet very unproven outside of Wallace, and Baltimore knows what it will get from him.
So, Baltimore must look outside of the organization and bring in at least one veteran this upcoming offseason.
Who should be on Baltimore’s radar?
In the past, the organization has had a knack of signing older receivers who are still productive, but don’t last many years there. Think Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Smith Sr.
This year’s free-agent crop includes only a few big names, but more middle-tier receivers, which might be better for Baltimore.
At the top of the list are the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Vincent Jackson, and Pierre Garcon. Jeffery on name alone could be out of Baltimore’s price range. Jackson is eerily similar to the type of receiver Baltimore has signed before. It’s late in his career and he is a chain mover, but not much else. Garcon is likely to resign with the Redskins, but he could be Baltimore’s best option of the top three.
Garcon finished the 2016 season with his best since 2012, totaling 79 catches, 1,041 yards, and 3 touchdowns. He has been known as a speed guy in the past, but is determined to prove he is more of a possession receiver. He could fit well with Baltimore’s group of young receivers.
In the next tier are receivers like Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, and Michael Floyd, among others. All three could produce in Baltimore. They’re young, so they each have potential to become mainstays in Joe Flacco’s offense. Each can move the chains, and have proven that in the past.
There are many other receivers available, like Terrelle Pryor, Ted Ginn Jr., and DeSean Jackson, but the trio of Britt, Wright, and Floyd are the most intriguing in my opinion. Pryor’s future is uncertain, Ginn Jr. is getting older in terms of an NFL player, and Jackson is a one-trick-pony.
Baltimore needs a receiver who can play to the strengths of Perriman/Wallace, as well as Moore/Campanero. Britt, Wright, or Floyd make the most sense in my mind.
Who do you think Baltimore will sign?