The Baltimore Ravens’ wide receivers ranked last in catches and yards last season. They’re being almost as equally blamed as QB Lamar Jackson for the team’s recent shortcomings in the postseason. This has caused countless fans and pundits to clamor for General Manager Eric DeCosta and Co. to sign a big-ticket free agent wideout this offseason.
Last week, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley reported that the Ravens aren’t expected to pursue any of the top players at the position that are slated to hit the unrestricted free-agent market. That means that hot names like Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, and Chris Godwin, who are all likely to franchise tagged, won’t be headed to Charm City.
However, that doesn’t mean that reinforcements at the position of a different variety couldn’t potentially be brought in. The Ravens have historically been more about seeking value and less about flash. There is a second tier of pending free agent wide receivers that will be available and could address one of their top needs without breaking the bank.
Listed below are five such players that fall into that category with their base calculated market value according to spotrac.com.
Corey Davis: two-year contract worth $19.2 million with an average of $9.6 million per year
In the wake of the realization that the Ravens can’t afford to be in the Robinson sweepstakes, even if he were not to get tagged, Davis has been a more realistic target that fans have been getting increasingly more excited about.
Davis is everything the team is looking for in a wide receiver with his ability to both make plays in the passing game as well as be a proficient blocker in the run game. He is a consistent catcher, a good route runner, can make contested catches, is tough to bring down in the open field, and has some breakaway speed.
He’s is coming off his best season to date where he recorded career-highs in receiving yards (984) and touchdowns (five) and tied for his previous high in receptions (65), despite having just the second-most targets (92) of his four-year career.
The former Top-10 selection of the Tennessee Titans had his fifth-year option declined before breaking out in 2020 and now wants to test the market. Pro Football Focus has already named the Ravens as a perfect landing spot for Davis and I couldn’t agree more.
At 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, he looks the part of a true ‘X’ receiver and has shown that he is capable of working the middle of the field — as well as the boundary outside the numbers.
Having just turned 26-years old in January, he is still an ascending young talent and could prove to be a steal if signed compared to what some of the more heralded players at his position make.
Marvin Jones: four-year contract worth $38.8 million with an average of $9.9 million per year
The nine-year veteran has classic Ravens’ signing written all over him, outside of the fact that he isn’t a salary cap casualty. Nevertheless, he’d not only address a top need for the team but he’d also provide veteran leadership to a very young receiver group with Dez Bryant not coming back and Willie Snead IV expected to not return, either.
At a slender 6-foot-2 and 199 pounds, Jones isn’t built like Anquan Boldin but the soon-to-be 31-year-old is a sure-handed chain mover and contested-catch specialist all the same. He knows where the soft spots are in zone coverage and can separate inside the numbers just as well as he does outside of them.
While Golladay was sidelined with an injures for the vast majority of the 2020 season, Jones churned out another productive season and finished as the Detroit Lions’ leader in targets (115), receptions (76), receiving yards (978), and touchdowns (nine).
The former Cincinnati Bengal would be a welcomed addition back in the AFC as a member of the Ravens. He could help elevate the play of Jackson and the passing game as a whole with his reliable hands, knack for making tough grabs, and ability to make plays down the field on the boundary when opposing defenses take away the middle of the field.
Sammy Watkins: two-year contract worth $20.6 million with an average of $10.3 million per year
The former fourth overall pick has struggled with injuries throughout his career but when healthy, he has put up respectable numbers and has been clutch in big games. Watkins was instrumental in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2019 Superbowl run during the postseason and took a pay cut to stay with the team as they tried to repeat this past season.
Watkins has only recorded one season of 1,000 plus receiving yards, which came in his second year in the league back when he was still with the Buffalo Bills, and has yet to even eclipse 700 yards since.
At 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, he has the physical dimensions of an ‘X’ receiver. Despite his checkered injury history, Watkins has proven that he can make plays on the boundary outside the numbers — as well as show a willingness and ability to do the same over the middle of the field.
Contrary to what spotrac calculated, I don’t believe Watkins will command an annual salary over $8 million at the most. Perhaps any potential contract could include some incentives that would increase his salary if he plays a specified percentage of snaps, eclipses a certain number in a statistical category, and if the team advances to the AFC conference championship.
A.J. Green: one-year contract worth $6.04 million
The seven-time Pro Bowler returned from an ankle injury that kept him out of all of 2019 and had a lackluster final season with the Cincinnati Bengals playing on the franchise tag. Even though he was healthy and appeared in all 16 regular season games including 14 starts, Green recorded career lows across the board including in receiving yards (523) and touchdowns (two), and caught just one more pass than he did in 2018 when he recorded 46 receptions in nine games.
He’s spent his entire career in the AFC North and infamously earned the nickname ‘The Raven Killer’ due to his propensity of breaking the hearts of Baltimore’s players, coaches, and fans alike with big games and highlight-reel plays.
At 32-years old set to turn 33 before the season starts, Green is past his prime but could still provide Jackson with a big target on the boundary who possess a large catch radius. He will be motivated to prove that he can still be an impact player and, in the past, the Ravens have been able to squeeze another productive season or two from discarded veteran receivers from other teams.
T.Y. Hilton: three-year contract worth 31.01 million with an average of $10.3 million per year
The Indianapolis Colts are reportedly interested in re-signing the four-time Pro Bowl wideout, who has spent his entire nine-year career with the team. They have the cap space to outbid for his services but if he were to hit the open market, he should definitely be on the Ravens’ radar.
At 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds, Hilton doesn’t fit the big-bodied traditional ‘X’ receiver physical archetype. However, he is a proven playmaker in the passing game who can still be potent vertical threat and gain yards after the catch — despite no longer possessing elite speed at age 31.
Hilton is two years removed from his last 1,000-yard receiving season and has dealt with and played through numerous injuries during that span. Last season he put up modest numbers with 56 receptions for 762 yards, hauled in five touchdowns, and averaged 13.2 yards per catch.