I suppose it would be fair to call the Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver group the envy of the league. It’s an easy claim to build upon when you start with the best wide receiver in the game in Antonio Brown, but adding on top of that the very promising young JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Martavis Bryant in his second season back from suspension, and you have a lot to work with before you even start tinkering beneath the hood.
The Baltimore Ravens are not exactly in the same position. In fact, they may be starting virtually from scratch this offseason. Given the position that they are in in terms of the salary cap, and the relatively dry free agency market at the wide receiver position, it is currently expected that they will not be able to work out a deal with Mike Wallace without him hitting the open market.
It is also anticipated that the team will release veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, whom they signed late in the offseason a year ago when he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs. When he was brought in, some were asking if Maclin would be the best wide receiver that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has ever played with in his career.
That would be Anquan Boldin, or at least Steve Smith, by the way. Uncoincidentally, both of them were established veteran free agent signings.
But they will not have an easy time looking for upgrades on the open market. Already, the top prospect scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent has been given the franchise tag, and the next two behind him are expected to receive the same fate.
While the Miami Dolphins tagged Jarvis Landry, there is a believe that the team is interested in moving him. But the reality is the Ravens would have struggled to make the space necessary to be a player in that deal even without the trade equation.
Behind Landry, the Jacksonville Jaguars with Allen Robinson and the Los Angeles Rams with Sammy Watkins are both expected at the moment to take the same route in employing the franchise tag, taking arguably the three biggest names off the market.
This will have the ripple effect of raising the prices of those who do hit the market, which is what we actually saw last year as well, if you recall the sort of deal that Markus Wheaton was able to find.
Prior to veterans being released, among the more notable players on the free agency market upcoming should be Marqise Lee, Terrelle Pryor, John Brown, and Paul Richardson, none of whom are exactly household names.
Outside of Wallace and Maclin, the Ravens’ current receiving corps is unremarkable at best, and includes Michael Campanaro, who will also be a free agent. Breshad Perriman is entering his fourth season as a former first-round pick as Chris Moore enters year three. They also have DeVier Posey and Tim White.