While the Baltimore Ravens signed restricted free agent wide receiver Willie Snead to an offer sheet last week, it was not until yesterday that Snead was informed by his former team—the New Orleans Saints—that they will not be matching the offer given to him by the Ravens. In other words, Baltimore just found its new slot receiver.
Having already added Michael Crabtree and John Brown on the outside as wide receivers, the Ravens have now completely reconstructed the top half of their depth chart at the position—the most important part, the ones that will actually be receiving the vast majority of the playing time.
The offer sheet was a two-year deal worth $7 million including a $2 million signing bonus, but there in also $3.4 million worth of incentives that could raise the total value of the contract up to $10.4 million.
Because Snead was given an original-round tender by the Saints and was originally an undrafted free agent, the Ravens will not have to forfeit a draft pick for signing him. New Orleans also signed a restricted free agent wide receiver in Cameron Meredith, who was also an undrafted free agent given an original-round tender.
Quarterback Joe Flacco now has a completely new group of wide receivers that he must build a rapport with this offseason. It’s almost as though he is coming to a new team with the number of targets with which he is unfamiliar.
The Ravens chose not to pursue re-signing unrestricted free agents Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro, while they elected to release Jeremy Maclin, whom they signed as a street free agent in the middle of the offseason a year ago.
Wallace has since signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he is replacing another former Ravens wide receiver—Torrey Smith—as a deep threat, and Campanaro has joined with the Tennessee Titans.
Campanaro was also one of Baltimore’s primary return men, which is a role for which Snead is expected to compete, even though he has minimal experience doing it. He did not return kicks or punts in college, but he worked a bit there in his final season with the Saints.
His first two seasons in New Orleans were highly productive, all things considered. He caught 141 passes for 1879 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015 and 2016. Last season, however, he was hit with a three-game suspension to start the season stemming from a DUI arrest.
Upon his return, he also suffered a hamstring injury that would limit him for the remainder of the season and see him drop in the pecking order. He would catch just eight passes for 92 yards in 2017. Clearly Baltimore is expecting to see more of his ‘old’ form in his new offense.