So maybe the Baltimore Ravens haven’t really been bluffing this whole time about their continued interest in the wide receiver position after they got out from under a bad contract to an average to below average wide receiver that signed early in the offseason by failing him on his physical.
Having already signed John Brown and Michael Crabtree in free agency, the Ravens have continued to actively explore the market, and at one point brought in restricted free agents Cameron Meredith from the Chicago Bears and Willie Snead from the New Orleans Saints for visits. Both went unsigned, but they did sign the quarterback throwing to them: Robert Griffin III.
That is, Baltimore didn’t sign either of them at the time. The team signed Snead to an offer sheet yesterday, and the Saints are not expected to match that offer, because they already signed Meredith to an offer sheet that the Bears chose not to match.
Snead, a former undrafted free agent, would require the Ravens to offer no compensation to the Saints if New Orleans does not match the offer, since he was given an original-round tender, which only awards the original team the right of first refusal.
The wide receiver actually spent time with the Carolina Panthers first in 2014, but he did not play in any games for either team. He had productive seasons in 2015 and 2016, averaging 70 receptions for 940 yards and 3.5 touchdowns during that time.
While he was limited to 11 games a year ago, he saw his role significantly reduced. He received over 100 targets in the prior two seasons, but just 16 in 2017, catching eight passes for 92 yards without registering a score.
The Ravens approached Snead with a two-year contract worth $7 million that has another $3.4 million in incentives tied to it, and a $2 million signing bonus. It’s certainly not an offer that can’t be matched, but the Saints don’t seem likely to do that. They also re-signed one of their veteran wide receivers earlier this week.
This would presumably take Baltimore out of the running in pursuing free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant, even though there are so many dots to connect. The Ravens have had success taking in veteran wide receivers, including those who are aging or coming off injuries. And they love signing street free agents.
The team was said to have expressed the most interest in Bryant after the Dallas Cowboys released him, but perhaps they learned that the price would be too steep. They now figure to pair Snead in the slot with Brown and Crabtree outside.
This is a complete departure from last season, when their top three wide receivers were Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Campanero. Wallace and Campanero signed elsewhere, while Maclin was released and remains unsigned.