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Addressing the wide receiver position is not an “either/or” issue for the Ravens

Wild Card Round - Baltimore Ravens v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

More than enough has already been made about the Ravens’ seemingly never-ending pursuit for a wide receiver this offseason. Unfortunately, more than a week removed from the start of free agency, the Ravens have still not signed anyone at wideout.

They sat on their hands for days as free agents like Corey Davis and Marvin Jones, two potential targets many thought Baltimore could target, signed deals with other teams. Then it was Will Fuller V and others. T

The Ravens reportedly sniffed around on Kenny Golladay before he agreed to join the Giants on a four-year deal. They made a hard run at JuJu Smith-Schuster but he took less money to re-sign with the Steelers. Yesterday, they struck out again with veteran T.Y. Hilton, who re-upped with the Colts on a one-year deal despite the Ravens offering him $15 million over three years.

At this point, it’s essentially Sammy Watkins or bust — as it pertains to the current free agent market. Watkins is really the only remaining option who could be a difference-maker on the field next season. The Ravens hosted him for a visit earlier this week and are reported to be interested in signing him. Watkins met with the Colts on Wednesday but after Indianapolis re-signed Hilton, Baltimore’s chances of signing him are seemingly are now greater.

Watkins has proven to be an impact player throughout his career. He’s not a star wideout but would certainly be an upgrade to the Ravens’ wide receiver corps. At the very least, he’s a competent veteran with meaningful experience — which the Ravens greatly lack at the position right now.

However, the idea that the Ravens could sign Watkins and “boom” — all of their problems are solved — is a flawed and incorrect notion. It’d be a much-needed step in the right direction, but far from the lone fix. The Ravens shouldn’t and frankly can’t afford to put all of their eggs in one basket at wide receiver.

In today’s NFL, more and more teams are acquiring and deploying multiple impact pass-catchers on the field at one time. Teams like the Chiefs, Buccaneers, and Bills, three of the top passing offenses in the NFL in 2020, had at least 3-4 competent receiving threats on their depth chart. The Ravens did not.

Baltimore’s current wide receiver depth chart of Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche is a bottom-tier unit, if not the worst in the NFL. Adding Watkins into the mix, should they in fact sign him, is a boost but not a full-on fix.

If Watkins were to get injured and miss time, or Brown for that matter, the Ravens are back to square one — needing a young player like Boykin or Duvernay to provide WR2-type production. This is not a recipe for success. After all, Watkins has played a full 16-game season just once and his career (his rookie year in 2014).

If they don’t sign Watkins, or another available free agent, the Ravens could look to to the trade market for a solution. This would be a good strategy, as potential targets like Michael Gallup or DeVante Parker, for example, may be acquirable for the right price.

However, the most important underlying point of this discussion is that this issue is not one of either/or nature. It’s not “the Ravens should sign a receiver OR draft a receiver”, nor is it “the Ravens should trade for a receiver or draft/sign one.”

The three avenues to addressing the position are as follows:

  1. Sign Watkins or another free agent
  2. Trade for a receiver
  3. Pick a receiver early in the draft (Round 1 or Round 2)

Just doing one of these is not suitable enough. Instead they need to add at least two more legitimate receiving threats to the roster. If they sign Watkins, the move should prelude drafting a receiver with one of their first two picks. The same applies if they utilize a trade as opposed to making a free agent signing.

The Ravens have done nothing thus far to address their most glaring need on either side of the ball. Time still remains, but their margin for error is extremely thin. For too long, they’ve neglected to take make big swings at the wide receiver position while the rest of the league continues to do so with regularity. The time for the Ravens to get it right is long overdue.

No more half measures.