Ravens: 4 free agent replacements for Sammy Watkins

Ravens. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Ravens. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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Emmanuel Sanders #1 of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens have every reason to be proud of their wide receiving room heading into the 2022 season, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily satisfied.

A hectic offseason saw veteran Sammy Watkins join the Green Bay Packers in free agency, and Baltimore made the right choice by letting Watkins go. The Ravens would commit an egregious mistake, however, if they didn’t find anybody to replace him.

With Lamar Jackson looking to make a huge comeback after missing much of last season due to injury, the Ravens need to give him the best weapons possible — Mark Andrews will continue being Mark Andrews, and Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman could both enjoy productive leaps in their respective careers in 2022.

In Watkins’ place, the team may expect receivers lower on the depth chart to rise up, including Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace. All fine options, but none of them are particularly seasoned pass-catchers.

If the Ravens are serious about regaining dominance in the AFC, then they will sign a free agent wide receiver by the start of the season. We don’t expect them to use a high draft pick on any wideout prospect given the team’s dire needs in other areas, and we also don’t expect them to splurge on Odell Beckham Jr. or Julio Jones, high-profile guys that they simply can’t afford.

We do expect them to do something.

Here are 4 cheaper but solid value free agent options to replace Sammy Watkins.

4. Emmanuel Sanders

Signing Emmanuel Sanders won’t help the team get younger, as Sanders is well past his prime at the pruny age of 35-years-old.

Still, the former Buffalo Bills receiver has somehow stayed relevant and productive in his last two seasons in the NFL and may very well be the most reliable player on this list.

In 14 games played in 2021, Sanders thrived under Josh Allen’s arm and caught 42 passes for 626 yards and four touchdowns, averaging a career-high 14.9 yards per catch. He posted similar numbers in New Orleans the year prior, and barring any significant injury, Sanders can be expected to maintain that level of consistency in 2022 on whichever team he signs with.

The fact that Sanders posted those numbers in Buffalo as a WR3 or WR4 speaks well to his ability to thrive even in a crowded receiver room. The journeyman enjoyed his most productive years on the Denver Broncos back in 2014 and strung together a nice streak of 1,000-yard seasons, but his age now makes him a liability more than anything.

In Baltimore, the bar would be kept low. All Sanders needs to do is reach somewhere around the 600-700 receiving yard mark for his season to be considered a success.

Year after year, Sanders proves that age is just a number, and the Ravens should seriously consider adding Sanders and his wealth of experience to the team.