Jeremy Maclin was in the Baltimore area for less than 24 hours. During that time, he had dinner with Ravens wide receivers coach Bobby Engram, met a slew of Ravens players at an NBA finals watch party at safety Tony Jefferson’s house, sat down with general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh, and posed for a picture with former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.
What he didn’t do was put his name on a contract and agree to a free-agent deal with the Ravens.
The Ravens have had great success in recent years in not allowing free agents they covet leave their facility without signing a contract. However, Maclin departed the Under Armour Performance Center early Thursday afternoon with his mind still not made up on where he wants to sign.
It is believed that the Buffalo Bills, who Maclin visited earlier this week, and the Ravens remain the top contenders to land the seven-year veteran. However, that the Ravens weren’t able to get the deal done Thursday means their offseason-long quest to add a proven pass catcher will likely continue for at least a few more days.
“We didn’t press him to stay,” Harbaugh said after his team finished up its penultimate organized team activity workout. “Talking to his wife is really important. He’s got a wedding this weekend, so he wants a little more time to make up his decision.”
The Ravens clearly want the 29-year-old Maclin, believing he would be a nice complement to the team’s current top two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman. Maclin, who was surprisingly let go by the Kansas City Chiefs last week, is coming off arguably the worst season of his career. He caught 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns while playing just 12 games last year as he battled groin injuries.
However, he’s a proven threat who averaged 75 receptions and 1,017 receiving yards and scored 40 touchdowns from 2010 to 2015.
“He was in here all morning into early afternoon, getting to know us, us getting to know him. He’s going to go back,” Harbaugh said. “We had a great visit with him. … It was just great the way it worked out so we had a chance to get to know the player, which was one of the big factors certainly.”
For much of Tuesday and Wednesday, it appeared that the Ravens wouldn’t even get the opportunity to host Maclin. The wide receiver was in Western New York for more than 24 hours with the Bills and star running back LeSean McCoy, Maclin’s close friend and former Philadelphia Eagles teammate, putting on an aggressive sales pitch.
Maclin, though, left without signing a contract, giving the wide receiver-needy Ravens at least a chance to sign the top player currently available at the position. Over the past four years, the Ravens convinced Smith and Wallace to sign on their first free-agent visits despite the fact that they had tentatively planned meetings with other teams.
They certainly appeared to pull out all the stops for Maclin. His visit started with a dinner with Engram on Wednesday. After that, Maclin arrived at Jefferson’s house, where a number of Ravens, including safety and team leader Eric Weddle, wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) and first-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey, were watching the Golden State Warriors’ Game 3 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Maclin took a tour of the Ravens’ training facility Thursday morning and also met with Newsome, Harbaugh and other team officials. In what seems like a lucky coincidence for the Ravens, he also got an opportunity to speak with Smith, the retired receiver who was at the facility doing work for his current job at NFL Network.
Knowing how persuasive the Ravens can be and what the organization has to offer, Smith said on his Twitter account Wednesday that it was a bad sign for the Bills that they didn’t get Maclin under contract before he left for Baltimore. However, Maclin’s visit in Owings Mills came and went Thursday without an agreement in place.
It’s isn’t clear whether the holdup was money — the Ravens have between $6 million and $8 million in salary cap space remaining, far less than the Bills — or Maclin being conflicted with the decision.
“The main thing is you want guys to be happy,” Harbaugh said. “If they come here or wherever they go, you want them to look back and say, ‘Hey, I made the best decision of my life to do that.’ Well, he just got married, second-best decision. That’s what we’re hoping for if he decides to come here.”
While Maclin appears to be the Ravens’ top choice, he is not their only option. New York Jets receiver Eric Decker is readily available via trade. Decker played just three games last year because of hip and shoulder injuries but averaged 82 catches and 1,085 yards per season from 2012 to 2015. If the Jets can’t find a taker, they’re expected to release the 30-year-old.
Because Decker is due to make over $7 million in 2017, the Ravens would almost certainly have to rework his deal before agreeing to trade. If they’re unable to land either Maclin or Decker, former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin remains a free agent but has said that he doesn’t plan to sign before July.