It is no surprise that the Ravens are in the market for a wide receiver yet again. After missing out on one of the best drafts for the position, the Ravens will need to either resign Torrey Smith or take a stab at the other free agents on the market. Let's take a look at exactly who is going to be on the market.
*Note: We will only be looking at unrestricted free agents as diving into RFAs is just too much.
Dez Bryant - 26 - Dallas Cowboys
There really is no way that Bryant isn't resigned with the Cowboys. Jerry Jones has publicly admitted that Bryant is their top priority and even if a deal can't be worked out, there is always the franchise tag to keep him in Dallas a little longer. Even if Bryant somehow shakes free from Dallas, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that he sees the largest contract for a receiver ever. With multiple teams bidding him up, the Ravens just won't have the cap space to sign him.
Demaryius Thomas - 27 - Denver Broncos
Just like Dez Bryant, Thomas is another guy that the Broncos will just not let see the market. With Peyton Manning in flux as to whether he will be returning next season, the Broncos need all the offensive help they can get for whatever quarterback will be throwing the ball in 2015. As with Bryant, the Ravens simply couldn't compete with the rest of the NFL on offering a contract that should see him somewhere around $16million per year.
Next Tier Players:
Michael Crabtree - 27 - San Francisco 49ers
I'm sure that Crabtree would like out of San Francisco with all the weirdness going on and I'm sure the 49ers will be willing to let him go elsewhere since he hasn't quite panned out the way the 49ers would have expected. The former first round pick (#10 overall) has underwhelmed either due to injuries or just inconsistency in an offense that was run first. 2014 saw Crabtree catch 68 passes fir 698 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not exactly world beating stats. However, a change in scenery and a quarterback that has proven himself in the league might just turn the unimpressive Crabtree into what the NFL expected him to be all along. He'll likely be a much cheaper option than Torrey Smith due to his lack of elite speed, but he is a physical player that likes to block and can catch.
Jeremy Maclin - 26 - Philadelphia Eagles
Maclin is an interesting player because you have to wonder if the Eagles' unique offense in 2014 helped or hurt him. With 1318 yards on 85 receptions and 10 touchdowns, you'd assume that it helped him out. However, with a quarterback situation that was in flux all year long and an offense that periodically just decided to not wanna do anything that week, Maclin could have very well grabbed more yards than he saw. Maclin signed a 1 year deal with the Eagles for about $5.5million and would assuredly be expecting more from whoever contacted him. A slightly slower 40 yard dash time at the combine but pretty solid hands and being an impact player from anywhere on the field should mean that he is right in line with Torrey Smith's contract expectations. If Baltimore can't get a hometown discount from Smith, Maclin is the best option to straight up replace what Torrey brought to the table and even upgrade on the position from a hands perspective.
Randall Cobb - 24 - Green Bay Packers
Cobb is the youngest guy of the free agent receivers and one that is likely still growing into his body and into his ability. Even with that, Cobb caught 91 balls for 1287 yards and 12 touchdowns. Some of that surely comes from having Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and an offense that likes to throw, but he should be Green Bay's top priority. Cobb should expect to get roughly $10million a year for his talent and the upside his age represents. The Ravens would likely have to toss a little extra at him to get him to leave a Super Bowl contender with the league MVP at quarterback.
Torrey Smith - 26 - Baltimore Ravens
The devil you know is better than the devil you don't. That saying might apply to Smith even though I think he is the sixth best option in free agency but will cost in the top 5 of free agent receivers signed. Smith has the speed that none of the other guys have and in the NFL, that equals the big bucks. A great community leader and an all around great guy, Smith will bring some calmness to the roster of whoever signs him. Both his elite speed and his character are likely to garner him a little extra money than he is ultimately worth. Even though Smith has the speed, he still has shaky hands and can absolutely disappear for weeks at a time. The Ravens front office has been smart enough over the years to not grossly overpay for a player and that will sadly likely extend to Torrey Smith as the Ravens look to go cheaper or upgrade at the position in free agency and add guys through the draft. The only way I can personally see Smith back in uniform is if he gives the Ravens a hometown discount and opts to stick with a winning team.
Kenny Britt - 26 - St Louis Rams
Ahh, Britt the basketcase. Britt signed with the Rams on a 1 year deal as a prove it type of thing and actually kept his mouth shut and his butt out of trouble. Even with an anemic Rams offense with who knows at quarterback, Britt ended with 48 receptions for 748 yards and 3 touchdowns. As the only receiving threat on the team, that is rather impressive. Britt has the speed and he has the size that the Ravens would want to see at receiver, but the biggest question surrounding Britt is if he can continue to stay beyond his demons or if a long term deal will bring out the old Britt again. Because of that huge question mark, Britt will likely be an incredibly cheap option in case the team that signs him needs to jettison him quickly. Britt would fit in well with the Baltimore locker room that wouldn't let him get out of control easily and his talent would certainly be something quarterback Joe Flacco would love to have. I expect Britt to sign a 3 year deal for roughly $18million, making him a good option both short term and long term for the Ravens as they look to groom their in-house guys to ultimately replace whoever is listed at #1 on the depth chart.
Cecil Shorts - 27 - Jacksonville Jaguars
I might be biased simply because I want a guy named Cecil on the team, but Shorts has the stats behind him to warrant a discussion. While Shorts has missed games in every season since he was drafted, he has still put up pretty good numbers every year despite being on the Jaguars. Last season, Shorts caught 53 balls for 557 yards and 1 touchdown in 13 games. Running an unofficial 4.35 second 40-yard-dash, gives him elite speed and he has good hands. Sadly, his lack of production and injuries make him a bit of an unknown that will knock his price tag down. If the price is right, I could see the Ravens offering him a contract and seeing if he wants to play with a winner and a great quarterback.