We waited for the Baltimore Ravens to bring in some wide receiver talent this offseason and the team responded by signing Sammy Watkins. Now what?
It may not have been the splash move that fans wanted, but the Baltimore Ravens did end up signing a wide receiver this offseason in the form of Sammy Watkins. Is it an underwhelming move? Most certainly. Was it a good signing? Absolutely. The real question now is what does this move mean for Baltimore moving forward?
For starters, let’s establish that Sammy Watkins is far from a solution for the team’s need for a number one wide receiver. Watkins has played in all 16 games just once in his career, which was his rookie season way back in 2014. Since then, Watkins has missed 26 games in six seasons with nagging injuries. Watkins’s health has prevented the 27-year old from fulfilling his draft status after being the fourth overall selection in 2014. It looks even worse when you compare him to his fellow classmates such as Davante Adams or Mike Evans. Comparing and contrasting numbers is beside the point, though. The point here is that Watkins hasn’t lived up to his billing and it’s highly unlikely that he suddenly does that now.
In his career, Watkins has just a single 1,000-yard season (2015). Watkins did manage 982-yards as a rookie, however. Since that season, Watkins’s season-highs across the board have been 52 receptions, 673-yards, and eight touchdowns, all in different seasons. There isn’t enough consistency there to justify thoughts that he could be more than a part-time contributor for a team like the Ravens, who don’t feature wide receivers heavily in their offense.
On the bright side of things, Sammy Watkins is a breath of fresh air for Baltimore’s receiving core. Watkins brings good size (6’1″ 211-lbs.) and deep-speed (4.43 40-yard dash) to a wide receiver room in need of that combination. That aforementioned 1,000-yard season also came with current offensive coordinator Greg Roman, for what it’s worth. Watkins also brings valuable leadership skills to a very young receiving core that needs a good mentor to develop. With the talent there also being so young and raw, it’s even more important that the team brought Watkins in. There is a very good chance that Watkins is a day one starter for the team.
Anyone who watched a Ravens game a year ago could tell you that the team needs an infusion of talent. Marquise Brown has flashed brilliance but he’s been far too inconsistent to be relied on as more than a team’s number two receiver. Other investments like Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay have yet to come alive in the offense, although that is perhaps because they haven’t received enough opportunities. Beyond those three, the rest of the unit is a crapshoot.
It would be smart for the team to continue adding more wide receivers to give the roster some better competition, but there aren’t exactly many options remaining. Antonio Brown is a very enticing name, but after him, there are not any other free agents worth entertaining. The 2021 NFL Draft has some awesome prospects to consider with the 27th overall pick, including Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman or LSU’s Terrace Marshall. There’s also plenty of day two targets should Baltimore opt to wait on the position.
The question now becomes how do the Ravens proceed from here in addressing its wide receiving corps? Adding Sammy Watkins to that unit does at least brings some validity. It’s not a game-breaking addition, but it’s for nothing, either. Watkins, if nothing else, gives Baltimore something assured in the receiving corps. Bringing in Watkins (hopefully) shouldn’t stop the team from continuing to add competition whether that be via Free Agency or the 2021 NFL Draft.
One thing to consider, however, is that the Ravens don’t utilize wide receivers the way that other teams do. The position simply isn’t as big a deal in this offense. This could mean that bringing in Watkins was satisfactory enough for the team to consider the position “good enough.”
On the other hand, general manager Eric DeCosta has drafted four wide receivers in the past two draft classes. It seems unlikely that he’d change that kind of aggressiveness to make the position better just because the Ravens brought in Sammy Watkins.
The TL;DR version of this article is this: Signing Sammy Watkins shouldn’t mean that we will see the Baltimore Ravens go to cruise control and ignore the wide receiver position for the remainder of the offseason. I would still expect the team to continue adding more pieces and competition to finally make such a historically weak position to the franchise a strength. Still, Watkins is a move the team is very proud of and I would tell you to not expect a heavy investment, such as a first-round draft choice, on the position. Watkins isn’t the solution to the wide receiver woes, but he’s a big start to fixing it in the eyes of the Ravens.