Over the next several weeks, I will analyzing possible fits for the Ravens available on the market, whether it be free agency, trade or cap casualties. There will be a severe focus on the positions of needs for Baltimore, while adhering to their business model, as well as salary cap constraints. This is the first look at possible targets at WR this off season.
JUSTIN BLACKMON (Jacksonville Jaguars)
He had a rough time the first two seasons in Jacksonville, with two suspensions related to DUI arrests. The Jaguars might be inclined to either trade or release the troubled WR, especially with that being a position of strength, for a team with a lot of needs. A new environment, with established standards for off-field behavior might do him some good.
Physically, he has the ideal size and speed to be a No. 1 WR in the NFL; built similar to Dez Bryant in Dallas (who he followed as the main target at Oklahoma State). He has proven to be capable of big games, including a 190 yard performance against Denver in 2013 (one of the few games he actually paid). He has shown flashes of greatness with mediocre (and sometimes poor) QB play, by the likes of Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert.
Price wise, Blackmon is set to make just over $7M the next two seasons; which is not outrageous and may drop significantly depending on contract stipulations with his suspensions ( and even more if released). A player one night out on the town away from a season long ban would not require high draft pick compensation in any trade circumstance.
JEREMY MACLIN (Philadephia Eagles)
He is coming off his second major injury since entering the NFL in 2009. Returning from an ACL tear, during last year’s training camp, will diminish his value on the open market. Maclin may be looking for a one year “show me” contract, to establish his value for the 2015 off season.
Though he has not lived up to his first round expectations, Maclin has been a solid target, with his strong hands and ability to stretch the field. He has also proven to be a decent red zone target, leading the team three out of the five seasons in touchdown catches.
At only 25, a point where many WRs take the next step, there will be a high demand for the speedy wideout. The Colts employ Ryan Grigson, a member of the Eagles front office when they selected him, while the Chiefs’ are led by his old Head Coach, Andy Reid. There is also a strong possibility he choses to stay in Philadelphia, because of his familiarity with his teammates as well. The Ravens may have to overpay on his potential to steer his attention away from other, more suitable options.
JAMES JONES (Green Bay Packers)
Jones is another WR with injury concerns, but does have good production on the field; he also had the luxury of playing in the Packers spread open offense. Add in the bonus of catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, alongside the likes of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb; his stats may be inflated a bit but he has been a key cog in the Packer offense for years. He has proven to be a great end-zone option, leading the entire NFL in touch down receptions 2012 (14).
He has good size (6’1” 205 lbs.), with great leaping ability, to out jump most defensive backs in the NFL. His hands are questionable, but does have a flare for the big play. Jones has the strength out grab tough balls over the middle, making him a good complement to deep threats, like Torrey Smith.
He will also be in high demand, but come at a reasonable price, coming off an injury-plagued down season. With the Packers depth at the skill positions, and key needs on defense, they may be willing to invest somewhere else, instead of bringing back Jones. Because he is turning 30 in March, his price tag with cheaper than younger available WRs.