One glaring weakness the Ravens had on offense this regular season was the lack of a possession receiver that could churn out first downs and work underneath routes.
Torrey Smith is best when he's burning defensive backs down the field. Jacoby Jones, well, the same applies for him. Marlon Brown is a big target but wasn't able to be that slot presence the Ravens have had in previous years.
Therefore, conventional wisdom would suggest that the Ravens could be in the market for a slot receiver that can churn out yards and pick up first downs.
Two receivers set to be free agents come to mind:
After the way the 2013 season unfolded, I think a lot of Ravens fans would love to have Boldin back. Entering the last year of his contract with the Ravens, the organization traded him to the 49ers for a sixth-round draft pick.
The reasoning was solid at the time: the Ravens needed cap relief and Boldin didn't want to take a pay cut. There was a desire to bolster the defense, and without the $2 million in cap relief, with other moves thrown in there, they wouldn't be able to bring in Elvis Dumervil, Daryl Smith, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and Michael Huff.
Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. Spears and Huff were released, though the other three were nice additions on defense. But while the defense, for the most part, improved in 2013 from 2012 (barring some late-game collapses), the offense regressed quite a bit. With Dennis Pitta's injuring his hip in the preseason, Boldin's absence was much more prevalent through the entire season.
But Boldin is set to be a free agent this offseason. Now, he'll likely command at least a $6-8 million per year salary, considering he finished 2013 with 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns with the 49ers.
The Ravens would be smart to at least inquire. They don't need to apologize or ask him to come back — it was a sound decision at the time. It just didn't work out. But if Boldin would be open to a return and the two sides can agree on a price, well hey, why not?
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
If there was a receiver that could wind up being a significant value signee this offseason, it's Edelman. Making less than $1 million with the Patriots in 2013, Edelman had career-highs in catches (151), yards (1,056) and touchdowns (six).
With Wes Welker gone and Danny Amendola battling injuries all year, Edelman became a go-to slot presence for Tom Brady. Considering the Patriots didn't have much at outside receiver and that Rob Gronkowski spent most of the year hurt, Edelman's success is even more surprising.
But it could actually be indicative that Edelman is a receiver that's better than advertised.
Edelman could be an ideal fit at a great value. And his presence might be able to free up Torrey Smith on the outside some more.