By Jeff Zrebiec
8:40 AM EDT, March 14, 2012
At the NFL Scouting Combine late last month, Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged something that was probably pretty obvious to anybody even remotely familiar with the team’s salary cap situation.
“I don’t see us spending high numbers on a wide receiver,” Harbaugh. “We just don’t have the cap room. It wouldn’t be a smart way to distribute the money.”
The first day of free agency came and went yesterday and the Ravens – as expected – remained on the sidelines. But the clear theme of the day was the top wide receivers flying off the free agent market at an alarming rate, and for eye-popping contracts.
It started early with the New Orleans Saints locking up their own prospective free agent, Marques Colston, to a five-year deal worth approximately $40 million a couple of hours before the market opened at 4 p.m.
Then, the Washington Redskins began their annual free agent spending spree by agreeing to deals with wide receivers Pierre Garcon (five years, $42.5 million) and Josh Morgan (two years, $12 million). Vincent Jackson, the former San Diego Charger who was viewed as the top free agent wide receiver, then cashed in with a five-year, $55.6 million pact from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Harry Douglas agreed to re-sign with the Atlanta Falcons before arguably the day’s biggest surprise: veteran Reggie Wayne’s decision to return to the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts for a three-year deal reportedly worth $17.5 million.
Shortly after midnight, Robert Meachem, who had spent much of the evening visiting the Buffalo Bills, agreed to a four-year, $25.9 deal with the Chargers, while Eddie Royal remained in Washington meeting with Redskins’ officials.
Where does this leave the Ravens and their established goal of finding another outside threat?
There is still some talent out there on the market. Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham is available. So is Laurent Robinson and Brandon Lloyd. But if yesterday’s spending was any indication, they, too, might be out of the Ravens’ price range.
They could always go the veteran receiver with heavy baggage route and try to sign Plaxico Burress or Braylon Edwards and heck, why not throw Terrell Owens’ name into the mix. But I just don’t see them doing that I think the likelihood is that the Ravens get that receiver they covet in the first couple of rounds of April’s draft.
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