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Ravens free agency watch 2014: Wide receivers of interest

Get ready, folks. Free agency is on our doorstep.

Could the Ravens look at a receiver like Emmanuel Sanders in free agency?
Could the Ravens look at a receiver like Emmanuel Sanders in free agency?
Jared Wickerham

For some time now, i's been assumed the Ravens will take a wide receiver in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.

But could the Ravens address this need in free agency instead? At the position, the biggest need is for an inside presence, someone that can move the chains. They have a deep-threat with speed in Torrey Smith. Marlon Brown is a physical presence that became a red zone target in 2013.

If the Ravens can bring back Jacoby Jones, then there's no doubt the outside targets are set.

So here are five targets the Ravens could consider during free agency that would provide a solid fit for a slot receiver role:

Julian Edelman

Edelman wasn't supposed to get as much playing time as he did in 2013, with the Patriots bringing Danny Amendola on board. However, Amendola dealt with a myriad of injuries (shocking...) throughout the year. Edelman finished his 2013 season with a career-high 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. Edelman is a chain-mover with quickness that could give the Ravens a boost in the over-the-middle passing game.

Golden Tate

Tate's stock rose throughout the 2013 season as he became an integral part of the offense with Percy Harvin sidelined with a hip injury. Part of Tate's appeal is that he's versatile at the position — he can play inside and outside, giving whichever team he winds up with in 2014 plenty of options of how to use him. It appears he'd prefer to stay with the Seahawks, though where you prefer isn't always where you end up.

Jason Avant

He's not fast or shifty but he's got incredible hands and was a valuable asset to Philadelphia's locker room. It seemed, at least in previous seasons, that when the Eagles needed a first-down catch, Avant was there to get it. Avant, officially released earlier this week, is 30 years old and still has some seasons left in the tank.

Lance Moore

Soon to be officially released by the Saints (after tweeting the city of New Orleans a goodbye), Moore is a slot presence that could come at a great benefit for the Ravens. A nine-year vet, Moore has quickness and agility as an inside receiver and wouldn't cost the Ravens a compensatory pick since he's a cap casualty and didn't play out his contract. Moore was injured some last year, which contributed to his down season. But if the Ravens are unable to strike big in free agency, he could be a viable short-term option.

Emmanuel Sanders

Sanders is a shifty receiver with blazing speed that had some success in Pittsburgh. It would be somewhat strange to see him cross over to rival Baltimore, though Ravens fans would likely welcome him with open arms. Sanders had 740 yards and six touchdowns in 2013, playing in the shadow of Antonio Brown and seeing Jerricho Cotchery receive a lot of red zone targets.