Tight end Eric Ebron was released by the Lions after spending his first four seasons in Detroit. The former top 10 pick is now a free agent. Meanwhile, the Raiders have released veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree. The Ravens should focus all of their efforts on luring Ebron to Baltimore, not Crabtree.
Ravens fans have clamored for a No. 1 wide receiver from the beginning of time itself, but Crabtree is not the answer. Baltimore constantly receives criticism for signing older veterans as stopgap solutions to the wide receiver position, and that’s exactly what Crabtree would be. While still a fine player, Crabtree is 30-years old. In comparison, Ebron is only 24, and possibly hasn’t hit his full potential.
Ebron has received a ton of backlash for not living up to the hype of being a top 10 draft pick in 2014. He struggled with drops earlier in his career, but has since improved, with only three in 2017. Ebron has improved every year so far, a trend that could continue. It should be noted that the Ravens reportedly loved Ebron coming out of college, but he was selected by the Lions seven picks ahead of Baltimore in round one.
Crabtree spent his first six seasons with the 49ers and the previous three with the Raiders. He has been a very productive receiver over the course of his career, with 579 receptions for 6,870 yards and 51 touchdowns. Crabtree has only hit 1,000 receiving yards in two seasons, first with the 49ers in 2012 and then with the Raiders in 2016. Crabtree could be a good fit for the Ravens, as they recently signed wide receivers John Brown and Ryan Grant, both 26-years old, and could use a more experienced veteran in the group to go with the younger players such as Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman, Tim White and any possible rookies.
For once, though, Baltimore should go with the younger option with more to prove. Ebron still has huge potential at only 24-years old, and it’s possible that he could truly realize it with the Ravens, in an offense that relies heavily on tight ends. Quarterback Joe Flacco loves throwing to tight ends, and Ebron could flourish with him. In both 2017 and 2016, a tight end has led Baltimore in receptions. Flacco developed a connection of trust with Dennis Pitta and Benjamin Watson, and he could do the same with Ebron, who is much younger than those two were in 2016-17.
Ebron isn’t a very good blocker, but the Ravens have two good blocking tight ends on the roster already in Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams. He could provide advantageous match ups for the offense, and help to alleviate Baltimore’s red zone struggles in recent years.