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Sorting through 2019’s free agent wide receivers

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The Ravens have the money, but are there receivers to sign?

NFL: International Series-Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

The current wide receiver unit for the Ravens is questionable. Of the three signed by Ozzie Newsome last season, only Willie Snead IV looks to be a consistent threat on the gridiron. With the switch of quarterbacks, production in the passing game plummeted. Mainly the playcalling forced this, but it was not Marty Mornhinweg’s fault alone. The combination was a vicious cycle of playcalling from Marty, inaccurate passes from the rookie quarterback and a painful case of drops by Michael Crabtree (7) and John Brown (6) [NBCSports].

As of now, the Ravens only have Chris Moore, Jordan Lasley, Jaleel Scott, Crabtree, Snead under contract for the 2019 season, and some even suggest letting Crabtree walk with his age and production in question.

When the team does cut/trade QB Joe Flacco, the Ravens cap space becomes something worth flaunting, but by no means is there a star-studded market for them to attract.

Originally, I was excited to talk 2019 FA wide receiver prospects; I mean, I talk free agent wide receivers every year. So, I did what I always do and check spotrac’s page for UFA wideouts and sort by touchdowns because I begin to dream about the future scoring plays they’ll produce donning the purple and black. When sorting by this list, the first two names put the lack of scoring threats into perspective.

  1. Larry Fitzgerald — 6 TD
  2. John Brown — 5 TD

[Spotrac.com]

That’s right, folks. The first player is a 36-year old Arizona Cardinals legend with zero desire to leave his long-time franchise. The second player on this list was a Raven last year and couldn’t necessarily re-establish himself with the quarterback change. This isn’t going too well.

Edit: Just like that, Fitzgerald has signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals.

No matter. I’ve changed the sorting to total yards. Thankfully, this brings two new receivers on top.

  1. Adam Humphries — 816 yds
  2. Golden Tate — 795 yds

Truthfully, I’m a sucker for Tate. I’ve always liked his physicality and he’s the prototypical Ravens wide receiver signing. An older, big-bodied receiver with strong hands who is known for not dropping catches and gaining yards after the catch; Should I start the pre-write now?

Humphries is an interesting player. The good news is he’s in his prime at 26 years old. Also, he’s developed into a solid receiving option for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the past four seasons. The problems are his market value ($10.4 million?!) and he plays slot receiver, the only spot in the wide receiver department the Ravens look solid in. Maybe he can be kicked outside to WR2, but then you’re spending over $10 million a year on a maybe.

If you’d like to look at more on Humphries, I highly recommend going to Gang Green Nation for their breakdown of the Bucs free agent.

Now, going down Spotrac’s list, you’ll also notice a few more slot-receivers who I think the Ravens should mark off their lists. There needs to be bigger receivers for Jackson to target. Those names include:

  • Adam Humphries
  • Cole Beasley
  • Chris Hogan
  • Randall Cobb
  • Ryan Grant

With these names off, I do see a few names worth focusing on.

  • Tyrell Williams
  • Devin Funchess
  • Golden Tate

The former Michigan receiver is certainly somebody to look at in free agency. He’s 6-foot 4-inches tall and 225 pounds. With a frame like this, he’ll be looked at early and often by Jackson. He’s also the youngest of the four on the list, meaning he could be a long-term option for the Ravens to utilize. His market value ($8.9M) is also a bit cheaper than Tyrell Williams ($9.6M) or Golden Tate’s ($10.2M).

I’m also a fan of Tyrell’s play, though he’s cooled off after his 2016 season when he produced 69 catches, 1059 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also another big target for Jackson, as he’s also 6-foot 4-inches tall and only 20 pounds lighter than Funchess.

In truth, both of these receivers are ideal for Jackson to develop with. They’re bigger receivers, young and capable of meshing with the Greg Roman offense. It also doesn’t hurt to have larger receivers in the run game blocking cornerbacks and safeties when the stretch plays get past the edge.