There is really a ton of news going on around the AFC North, pretty much everywhere but Pittsburgh right now, so it’s going to be hard toe keep up with all of it, given that we try to only cover one story per day about divisional opponents unless it’s major news.
In other words we’re going to have to slowly trickle in everything that is going on with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rivals while trying to weigh it by order of importance, so today I’m going to pass up for now the Cincinnati Bengals’ re-signing of tight end Tyler Eifert on a one-year contract to instead focus on the evolving wide receiver situation with the Baltimore Ravens.
As I wrote a couple of days ago, the Ravens signed two wide receivers to contracts. John Brown got a one-year deal while Ryan Grant got a four-year deal with a hefty sum, in spite of the fact that he has under 1000 receiving yards during his four-year career and didn’t exactly break out a year ago.
It turns out, Grant did not pass the Ravens’ physical, and because of that, his contract voided, making him a free agent once again, and now Baltimore is looking to go after Michael Crabtree, whom the Oakland Raiders just released after they signed the also-recently-released Jordy Nelson, the longtime member of the Green Bay Packers.
Crabtree naturally fits right into the Ravens’ modus operandi, as General Manager Ozzie Newsome has made a living off of acquiring utilitarian talent among the street free agent class, allowing him to exploit the compensatory draft formula. They have had far more compensatory draft picks than any other team in the league.
Some of their best wide receivers in club history, and especially in recent history, have been cap cuts in recent years, most notably Steve Smith and Mike Wallace. Jeremy Maclin was another wide receiver who was released that they targeted a year ago, though they have already released him.
With his release, Crabtree immediately shoots up near the top of the current crop of available wide receivers. I saw a statistic noting that the only other player who has had at least eight receiving touchdowns in each of the past three seasons is Antonio Brown (and he’s had at least eight in five straight seasons, averaging 10 per season in that span).
Unfortunately, Crabtree is scheduled to visit with the Ravens today, and I think the pairing makes a lot of sense. He is coming off something of a down year with some really below-the-line play from Derek Carr, which might affect his value a bit, but he is a player who can make tough catches, which Baltimore lacks.
While he wouldn’t tip the scales in Baltimore’s favor, I do think Crabtree is the best thing the Ravens can do right now to improve their wide receiver position, which is in desperate need of repair. Certainly much better than Ryan Grant. They dodged a bullet with that one, frankly.