The Baltimore Ravens draft wide receivers about as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers draft cornerbacks; in other words, it’s better that they sign them in free agency. Which, to their credit, is largely what they have done in more recent years. The Steelers may have released Steven Nelson as a cap casualty, but they still have Joe Haden.
Now the Ravens, after some time searching, finally have another veteran wide receiver to add to their list of acquisitions at the position, though not before striking out with other targets. After pursuing JuJu Smith-Schuster with a $9 million deal with up to $4 million in incentives, they agreed to terms earlier this evening with Sammy Watkins, who was recently in for a visit, on a one-year, $5 million deal, with an additional $1 million available in incentives.
A former first-round draft pick, Watkins is now on his fourth team, having originally been drafted by the Buffalo Bills. The Los Angeles Rams acquired him via trade in 2017, his fourth season, before he hit free agency. He has spent the past three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs on a three-year, $48 million deal.
While he was not a first or second option for the Chiefs behind Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, Watkins has also suffered from injuries that have limited his effectiveness and availability, missing 14 games over the past three years for Kansas City.
But he comes into Baltimore bringing quite a bit more experience than they previously had in the room, made up primarily of draft picks from the past two years. Marquise Brown was a first-round pick in 2019, while Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay were third-rounders, and James Proche came via the sixth round a season ago. Former Steelers wide receiver Deon Cain is also with them.
Needless to say, within the Ravens’ offense, Watkins should immediately step into the starting lineup along with Brown. With Willie Snead also having just signed elsewhere earlier today, they will have to determine who the number three receiver will be, likely between Boykin and Duvernay.
There is, of course, still the draft yet to come, and as has been the case on pretty much an annual basis lately, it’s anticipated to be a deep class at the wide receiver position, so the Ravens can continue to address the position there.
Watkins was pretty much the last remaining veteran wide receiver of note on the market, after T.Y. Hilton re-signed with the Indianapolis Colts, and it certainly seemed as though the Ravens were really hoping to land one in free agency. I wonder if they were urged to up their bid to close the deal before losing out on their last best shot.