The wide receiver position has never been the top priority for the Baltimore Ravens. In the 2020 season, that was very heavily felt. The Ravens had the lowest total of passing yards, the talent the Ravens had in the pass-catching department had a lot to do with that.
The Ravens will always be a run-heavy team with Lamar Jackson as a quarterback. First, he can get 1,000 yards on his own. Secondly, the impact he makes on the defense leads to a great situation for running backs. A wide receiver isn’t the top priority. That’s fine. It still needs to be on the objective list.
The Ravens are not expected to go after one of the most premium free agents at the wide receiver position. That’s fine. In this offense, there probably isn’t a 100 reception season to go around. The Ravens may want to go bargain shopping. While that makes sense, something has to give.
According to Spotrac.com, the Ravens ranked 22nd in spending at the wide receiver position last season. The Ravens spent $11,776, 430 of their salary cap on all of their wide receivers last year. Considering that Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche are all on rookie contracts, it’s higher than you probably would guess.
The fact that you didn’t need to check the figures to really understand the Ravens have skimped out at this position is a little problematic. One way to keep the cost down of a position group is to draft well. Drafted players are affordable players by the nature of rookie deals. For this, to work the young players have to be hits that contribute more than players like Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay have.
Run-first offense or not, the Ravens need to get more production from wide receivers. The finger-pointing can’t just go to the play calls or the quarterback. Jackson wanted to prove himself as a passer last season, he even forced it at times. Jackson would have found more production out of his receivers if there was any more to squeeze out.
The Ravens aren’t going to spend close to $20 million a year for a number one receiver. That’s not in line with what they want to do offensively. That would be like buying a gigantic bookcase and only putting five books on it. Allen Robinson is what the fans want, though that doesn’t seem in the cards.
What has to happen is the Ravens have to compromise here. They don’t need to bend to the will of the fans, they need to admit the fans have a point though. The wide receiver position has been a problem and drafting one player (even in the first round) probably won’t make that problem say goodbye.
The Ravens need to set a yearly price that they can live with to get a quality wide receiver. If you;e been following my work this offseason you get it. We’re talking about a strong option opposite of Marquise Brown, that’s what Baltimore is going to have to settle for.
The Ravens will probably have to spend $13-14 million as an average annual salary to get the right kind of free agent. The goal should be to get the best player possible within this range. If DeCosta can do that for %12 million a year more power to him, though he needs to be able to do some actual spending at the position.
The Bottom Line:
It’s obvious how affordable the wide receiver position has been for the Ravens. It’s more obvious than the idea that ice cream will melt if left out in the sunshine on a warm day. If the Ravens aren’t going to go for the true number one receiver that’s fine.
That’s built into their identity at this point. What isn’t okay is shopping for receivers at Five Below or a Dollar General. What isn’t okay is neglecting the position. Every team that needs a receiver has other needs.
To get past where the Ravens have been stuck, they need to be able to pass the football more productively. To do that they can’t pay the position so little and expect good enough results. If they get better at drafting receivers that will help, at the moment though they need to do some free-agent shopping.