Less than 24 hours after the Ravens offense produced just six points in a preseason loss to the Eagles, general manger Ozzie Newsome addressed one area of concern by trading for Bills wide receiver Lee Evans.
ESPN originally reported that Baltimore acquired the 30-year-old from Buffalo for a fourth-round pick, which The Baltimore Sun has since confirmed. That’s a pretty fair price to add a proven deep threat in Evans, who has hauled in 43 touchdown passes and averaged 15.7 yards per catch in seven NFL seasons.
Evans is coming off his worst statistical season in the league. He had just 37 catches for 578 yards and four touchdowns as Stevie Johnson replaced him as the Bills’ go-to receiver. But on paper, he appears to be a fine complement to Anquan Boldin, who is effective running short and intermediate routes. Evans doesn’t have to catch 60 balls to have an impact; he just needs to stretch the field for quarterback Joe Flacco.
The Ravens’ top wide receivers, which include a pair of rookies, had trouble getting separation against the Eagles on Thursday night, and the entire offense struggled, leaving fans feeling uneasy. This trade should help settle their stomachs, and it lets them know that Newsome hasn’t been sleeping at the wheel as some have suggested. He still has four more weeks to finalize the roster.
And though the passing game was out of sync in the preseason opener, I’m not so sure this trade materialized out of thin air early Friday morning. The Ravens like what they have in second-round pick Torrey Smith and fourth-rounder Tandon Doss, but I never believed that they wanted to start the season against the Steelers with two rookies among their top three wide receivers.
When Malcom Floyd re-signed with the Chargers and Derrick Mason wound up with the Jets, Newsome made a backup plan, one that landed them a younger and faster alternative to Mason.
In Boldin and Evans, the Ravens have a pretty good one-two punch at the position, and they can bring Smith and Doss along at their own paces. Ideally, they will take on bigger roles near season’s end.
For now, Evans will most often be the one chasing down Flacco’s long bombs. Finally, they have someone who is up to that task.