According to Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com, the Ravens have signed veteran receiver Brandon Stokley to a one-year contract. Stokley has enjoyed a 14 year career in the NFL and most recently played for the Denver Broncos.
There are a lot of reasons why the signing might not work out for the Ravens. He's 37 and nearing the end of his career. There is a good chance that his revitalized play last year was the result of one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history throwing him the ball. And he might take away game reps for younger receivers, hurting their long term development.
But really, this is a low risk, high reward signing for the Ravens. Stokley has had huge success in the NFL as a slot receiver, which is currently one of the biggest areas of need of the Ravens since Boldin was traded to the 49ers. At worst, he's a steady-handed veteran who can step in if none of the current crop of young Ravens receivers separate themselves from the group in training camp. At best, he can go a long way to filling in the production gap that was left by Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta.
While Stokley is old, he wasn't just a veteran bench warmer providing team leadership in Denver. He averaged 36.3 yards per game on 3 receptions per game. Though that isn't as productive as Boldin, who averaged 61.4 yards per game on 4.3 receptions per game, it's still more guaranteed production then anything that the current crop of young slot receivers could provide. And while it would be nice to develop the young talent as the season went along, the Ravens don't have the luxury to leave that kind of contribution on the bench if they want to contend for another championship.
My guess is Stokley won't be as effective as he was for Denver last year. Not only did he have Payton Manning throwing to him, he'll be a year older at a position where athleticism plays a huge role. But with the gaping hole at slot receiver, my reaction to signing Stokley is simply this: why not?