Ravens could dive into deep WR pool in free agency

Ravens could dive into deep WR pool in free agency
February 14, 2014, 9:00 am
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(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

The list of free agent wide receivers keeps growing, which is good news for the Ravens. The Lions cut Nate Burleson on Thursday. The Seahawks are likely to cut Sidney Rice before free agency begins March 11. The Broncos may even be forced to cut Wes Welker, whose salary number against the cap jumps from $4 million in 2013 to $8 million in 2014.

Even if none of those players come to Baltimore, more than 50 veteran wide receivers are hitting the market, giving the Ravens many options should they decide to be more aggressive than usual during free agency. Among the most prominent wide receivers set to become free agents are Anquan Boldin of the 49ers, Eric Decker of the Broncos, Julian Edelman of the Patriots, Dexter McCluster of the Chiefs, Hakeem Nicks of the Giants, Emmanuel Sanders of the Steelers, and Golden Tate of the Seahawks.

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Don’t expect a Boldin-Ravens reunion, as he is happy with San Francisco and is expected to re-sign there. Decker is likely too expensive for the Ravens’ taste.  But Edelman or Sanders? The Ravens might think hard about either one. Sanders is coming off his best season (67 catches, 740 yards, six touchdowns), and he turns 27 years old in March. He can also return punts and kickoffs, giving him added value, especially if the Ravens part with free agent wide receiver Jacoby Jones.

Edelman became Tom Brady’s go-to wide receiver in 2013 with 105 catches. Derrick Mason, who had 103 receptions in 2007, is the only Ravens receiver in history with a 100-catch season. A precise route runner, Edelman would likely have no problem building chemistry with Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco. 

The Ravens may decide that signing a proven NFL receiver in free agency is a better option than drafting a wide receiver in the first round who may struggle as a rookie. Should the Ravens dive into free agency, at least the pool is deep.