As the Ravens begin the serious work of recrafting their roster for the 2014 season, we are taking a look at each Ravens position group – seeing which players are under contract, which players are free agents and what the group is expected to look like next season.
Unrestricted free agents: Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley (who has already said he will retire)
Restricted free agents: Tandon Doss
Exclusive rights free agents: None
Under contract: Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette, Torrey Smith, Deonte Thompson
Whether or not Jacoby Jones or Tandon Doss returns to the Ravens, it's clear that another top-shelf receiver is among the Ravens' top offseason priorities.
The Ravens need to find a reliable target to line up opposite Torrey Smith, who finished with a career-high 1,128 receiving yards last year but just four touchdowns.
"We need to be able to get a receiver – whether it’s a tight end or a wide receiver – that can make a third-and-7, third-and-8 catch and run after the catch," general manager Ozzie Newsome said at his season-ending news conference.
Jones and Doss each bring a big-play element to the return game -- each had a touchdown return last season -- but have not established themselves as an every-down, No. 2 receiver. Jones (37-455) is a free agent who made $4 million last year (including a $1 million roster bonus). If he commands that kind of salary in free agency, he will be gone. The Ravens would consider bringing him back at a lower price.
Doss (19-305) is a restricted free agent, and could be assigned an original-round tender (which last year was about $1.3 million). He also could be re-signed to a deal with a lower cap hit; that's what the Ravens did with David Reed last March. But Doss has yet to produce consistently as a receiver.
Ditto for Deonte Thompson, who saw limited action last year after a preseason foot injury. Privately the Ravens were frustrated with Thompson's lack of development, and his leash could be short this year.
Undrafted Marlon Brown (49-524, 7 TDs) was the surprise story on offense and should continue to get better. Fellow rookie Aaron Mellette was on injured reserve all season and figures to face another preseason battle to make the team.
This year's draft class of wide receivers is viewed as extremely strong, and it's likely the Ravens could find a nice fit early in the draft.