For what seems like the first time in franchise history or at least recent memory since Lamar Jackson became the full-time starter, the Baltimore Ravens have a surplus of talent and quality at the wide receiver position. Through his actions in both free agency and the draft, General Manager Eric DeCosta has shown a determination to debunk the narrative that the Ravens don’t know how to scout or develop receivers.
DeCosta has taken two players at the position in each of his first three drafts since taking over for Ozzie Newsome as the head of the team’s front office. While his efforts thus far have yet to yield a pro bowler or even a 1,000-yard receiving season from one player, almost all of them have flashed their playmaking potential when given the chance.
One player at the position where the Ravens are deeper than they are accustomed to and could net them a solid return on their original investment via trade is Miles Boykin. The 2019 third-rounder out of Notre Dame has established himself as a blocker but has yet to blossom or produce consistently as a pass-catcher.
Nevertheless, he’s a physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, possesses good long speed to get behind a defense and has a big catch radius. Just because he has yet to put it together with one team — in an offense that isn’t exactly conducive for wideouts to shine or put up big numbers — doesn’t mean he won’t be able to have success elsewhere if dealt.
Here are four teams in need of some immediate reinforcements at wide receiver or need to plan for the near future and could use a promising player at the position like Boykin who is under contract for the next two seasons:
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the four-time reigning NFC South Champions will be without All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas to start the season after he underwent ankle surgery in June.
Sources: #Saints star WR Michael Thomas is expected to miss the start of the 2021 season after undergoing surgery to repair the ligaments in his ankle in June. Based on the timing of the surgery – and recommended 4 months of recovery – Thomas could be on the sideline for weeks.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 23, 2021
After that news broke, reports that the team was in the process of scouring the veteran free agent receiver market immediately followed. The Saints will already have a new starting quarterback under center for the first time in 15 years following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees this offseason. Now, they need more weapons to start the season for whoever ends up winning the starting job between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.
New Orleans will likely add a veteran in the coming weeks like a Golden Tate, Alshon Jeffery, or Larry Fitzgerald if he’s still interested in continuing his playing career. Fitzgerald could return to being a primary target in the passing game as opposed to playing third or fourth fiddle if he were to return to Arizona for an 18th year with the Cardinals.
Boykin is a long way from being anywhere close to Thomas’ level but he is built similarly, presents more of a vertical threat, and could be utilized in many of the same ways. The Saints will get a first-hand look at what he can do when they play the Ravens in Week 1 of the preseason. If he stands out or they like what they see from an intangibles standpoint, a deal could be made shortly thereafter.
Less than an hour after the Thomas news broke, Rapport reported that the Packers and All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams had broken off negotiations on a potential contract extension.
It’s not just Aaron Rodgers: The #Packers and star WR Davante Adams have broken off long-term extension talks. There are no current plans to resume them. The two sides have been negotiating for months, but they are now in a bad place, sources say. First the QB, now the No. 1 WR.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 23, 2021
Green Bay is already at odds with their star quarterback and reigning league MVP quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who wants out of town. While Adams isn’t threatening to withhold his services for the 2021 season, his future with the team is uncertain especially since he has already gone on record stating that Rodgers’ fate is intertwined with his own.
That being said, the Packers could always franchise tag Adams next off-season and hold out hope for a resolution. Either way, whoever starts at quarterback for Green Bay this year and going forward will need more weapons in the passing game with speedy vertical threat Marquez Valdez-Scantling set to be an unrestricted free agent after this year as well.
If traded to Green Bay, Boykin wouldn’t be a huge needle mover but would provide the Packers another big-bodied pass catcher who could thrive in their system. He’d also be reunited with his college teammate Equanimeous St. Brown who he played with as a member of the Fighting Irish from 2015-2017.
After trading 2018 second-round pick Anthony Miller to the Texans and with Allen Robinson playing on the franchise tag this year, the Bears might need a complementary receiver for the future to pair with Darnell Mooney. Many pundits believe Mooney is an ascending young talent at the position with star potential if he can get better quarterback play.
Boykin hasn’t shown the same dominant contested catch ability that the Bears would be losing if Robinson were to depart for greener pastures next March. However, he has all the physical tools to become better in that area of his game. He would benefit from the extra attention that will be directed toward Mooney if he were to become the next No. 1 receiver in Chicago’s offense. He’d also be paired with another dynamic dual-threat quarterback with Bears once 2021 first-round pick, Justin Fields, gets inserted into the starting lineup.
After letting both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones walk in free agency this offseason, the Lions don’t have a clear-cut No. 1 receiver to be the go-to target for Jared Goff in their offense. Their best pass-catcher is tight end T.J. Hockenson, who is fresh off his first Pro Bowl season. They didn’t even take a receiver in this year's draft until the fifth round, when they drafted Boykin’s former teammate’s little younger brother Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Their two notable veteran additions were Tyrell Williams and former Ravens’ first-round pick Breshad Perriman. Needless to say, Boykin would have a golden opportunity to climb the depth chart and claim the top spot in Detroit. At the very least, he could carve out a larger role on offense there than he’s currently projected to have in Baltimore after all the notable additions they made in the spring.
Honorable mention —
Former Ravens’ passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, David Culley, brought a handful of coaches and players from Baltimore with him to Houston when he got hired to be the Texans’ newest head coach this off-season. Trading for Boykin would continue that trend and reinforce a position group that is still considered lackluster outside of veteran Brandon Cooks even after trading for Miller on Saturday.
The #Texans made a late-round pick swap with the #Bears and Anthony Miller has an new home. https://t.co/Q0HlC4TeTF— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 25, 2021
Miller is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be a free agent after this upcoming season, so they might want additional insurance if his one-year audition doesn’t go well.
The Texans need a big-bodied target on the perimeter after trading away All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins last year. They drafted Nico Collins out of Michigan, who had a similar prospect profile to Boykin coming out of college, but the rookie may need time to get acclimated to the pros — whereas Boykin could finally be primed to break out after gaining two years of experience and 26 career starts under his belt.