Looking at veteran wide receivers left for Ravens in free agency

On Monday night, Eric DeCosta was in our house for once. The Ravens assistant general manager visited our offices down on Calvert Street to speak and answer reader questions in our latest Baltimore Sun Sports Forum.

Among the highlights was DeCosta acknowledging that the team's "hunt goes on" for a veteran wide receiver.


"We're still working. The roster is not set. We're always evaluating. We're always looking at guys," DeCosta said. "Our pro personnel department looks at all available players and we'll make a decision at some point of what we want to do at that position. There are definitely some players out there. We'll consider all options."

General manager Ozzie Newsome echoed those comments in a radio spot on ESPN, saying they "could use a veteran receiver."

Still, DeCosta said he was pleased with the progress that Jacoby Jones made last season and also mentioned young receivers Deonte Thompson, Tandon Doss and David Reed. The team also has 2012 sixth-round draft pick Tommy Streeter and 2013 seventh-rounder Aaron Mellette in addition to local product LaQuan Williams, who has played mostly on special teams.

It wouldn't be surprising to see the Ravens hold off on signing that veteran wide receiver until this summer. That would allow them to give more reps in offseason workouts and minicamp to the young wide receivers I just mentioned. I'm guessing the Ravens would prefer that Doss or Reed or one of those other guys step up and seize the position so they didn't have to bring in a veteran.

But if the Ravens do feel they need to go that route, there are still a few adequate options left on the free-agent market, including receivers who could operate out of the slot, where the offseason trade of Anquan Boldin has left a significant void in the offense.

Journeyman Brandon Lloyd, who had 74 catches for 911 yards for the New England Patriots in 2012, is the top free-agent wide receiver remaining. But he has typically played on the outside, where the Ravens appear to be set with Torrey Smith and Jones.

Austin Collie and Laurent Robinson have had productive seasons in Indianapolis and Dallas, respectively, and are capable of getting open in the slot. Collie, in particular, is intriguing because his Colts ties to Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. But each come with serious concussion concerns that are scaring teams away.

Randy Moss is still… Nah, let's not even go there.

Other free-agent wide receivers who could come on the cheap include Steve Breaston (formerly of Kansas City), Early Doucet (Arizona) and Ben Obomanu (Seattle). It's also worth noting that all three of those players were cut by their old teams, meaning that they wouldn't mess with the team's compensatory pick formula.

One more receiver to consider: Brandon Stokley.

Stokley, of course, was drafted by the Ravens in 1999 and won a Super Bowl the following year. The 36-year-old hooked up with Peyton Manning in Denver last year and showed he may still have a little left in the tank by catching 45 passes for 544 yards and five touchdowns for the Broncos. It wouldn't be a sexy signing, but he could be an insurance policy if none of the young receivers step up.

Still, like I wrote earlier, one can assume their preference is to see Doss, Reed, or one or more of the team's other recent draft picks or undrafted rookie free agents seize the opportunity this spring. But the Ravens are still patiently waiting for one to break through, which is why "the hunt goes on" for DeCosta and company.

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