Baltimore Ravens

Ravens mailbag: Could they still sign Anquan Boldin? What O-linemen are available?

A sampling of the questions that I'm getting most often on social media these days and my attempt at answering them without the character limit:

Even after signing Jeremy Maclin, could the Ravens still add Anquan Boldin?


As long as Boldin remains available and intent on returning for his 15th NFL season, the Ravens are going to be mentioned as a potential suitor. At this point, though, the Ravens are content with what they have at wide receiver. They want to give Breshad Perriman a lot of snaps and not bury Chris Moore on the depth chart. They also want to preserve the remaining cap space that they have to augment their offensive line. Boldin, meanwhile, is ready to wait until well into July before he signs and he reportedly is eyeing a situation closer to his South Florida home. Knowing how much the Ravens like and respect Boldin, it would be foolish to completely rule them out. If Boldin still is unsigned a couple of weeks into camp and the Ravens don't like what they're seeing from their young receivers or they sustain an injury at the position, a reunion would be more likely. As of now, it doesn't appear to be high on general manager Ozzie Newsome's agenda.

Who will start at wide receiver?


I'll respond with a question of my own: Does it really matter? The Ravens had three receivers on the field on 58 percent of their offensive plays last year. That number figures to rise in the upcoming season without Dennis Pitta manning the slot. Perriman, Maclin and Mike Wallace will be on the field together often, regardless of which two are listed as the starters. If I had to designate two, it would be Maclin and Wallace given their veteran status. However, the more prevalent scenario will be all three in the game at the same time with Maclin in the slot and Perriman and Wallace on the outside.

How much salary cap space do the Ravens have?

Per the NFL Players Association's Public Salary Report, the Ravens have $6.8 million of space. Brian McFarland, who does a superb job documenting the Ravens' salary cap situation for Russell Street Report, has the team with $5.58 million of space. Either number would provide enough flexibility for the Ravens to make a modest signing. Still, teams need to go into the regular season with a little space so they can make moves and maintain roster flexibility.

Could the Ravens still sign center Nick Mangold?      

Yes. The Ravens hosted the longtime New York Jet on a free-agent visit in early April. The purpose of the visit was to get to know Mangold and see where he was at physically. Both sides vowed to stay in contact, but there's been no evidence that the sides have moved any closer to a deal. Given the state of offensive line play in the league, it's surprising that Mangold remains a free agent. However, it's probably telling as well. He acknowledged earlier in the offseason that he was still recovering from an ankle injury. His asking price is said to be extremely high with the 33-year-old reportedly wanting to be paid like a top-10 center. That would mean a deal worth around $6 million a year. If that's the asking price, you can probably rule the Ravens out.

Are there other offensive linemen available that would be upgrades for the Ravens?

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 It's not a very long or distinguished list. Mangold is really the only enticing option at center unless the Ravens try and swing a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for Jason Kelce. The Eagles are deep at center and Kelce is reportedly a candidate to be moved. His contract would be prohibitive for the Ravens. As for right tackle, the Ravens other perceived position of need, Ryan Clady remains the best option if he's healthy and willing to change positions. He's been a left tackle his entire career. Two other options are Orlando Franklin and Austin Pasztor. Franklin has played guard the past three seasons, so he wouldn't necessarily be the best fit but the Ravens aren't in a position to be picky. Pasztor started all 16 games for the Cleveland Browns last year although he wouldn't be considered a significant upgrade.

Why is James Hurst in line to start at right tackle?


The Ravens have always had a higher opinion of Hurst than their fans do. It's pretty obvious some fans will never forgive Hurst for getting pushed back into the left knee of Joe Flacco on the play that prematurely ended the quarterback's 2015 season. It's also undeniable that Hurst has struggled at times when pressed into action. The Ravens, though, believe he has improved each year and they like fact that the former undrafted free agent got bigger and stronger this offseason and he brings experience and smarts to the position. Hurst has primarily played on the left side in his career, but right tackle can be a bit more forgiving. It's still possible that the Ravens go outside the organization to find their starting right tackle. But when you consider their internal options, which include De'Ondre Wesley, Stephane Nembot and Jermaine Eluemunor, Hurst is the most game-ready guy they currently have competing for that spot. As for the calls to move Alex Lewis to right tackle, I didn't see him take a repetition there in the various minicamps. If that was the plan, that move should already have been made.

Does "Player X" have a chance to make the team?

I get this one often and my response is always the same. If you're on the 90-man roster and coming to training camp, you have a chance to make the team. The Ravens give their rookies and reserves a lot of reps during the summer, so there's plenty of opportunities for the back-end roster guys to make an impression. At this time last year, I would have told you that Michael Pierce, an undrafted defensive lineman out of Samford, had virtually no chance to crack the regular-season roster. He did more than that as a rookie, becoming a valuable member of the defensive line rotation. Three years ago, I listed North Texas linebacker Zachary Orr as a long shot to stick in my pre-training camp roster breakdown. Orr played in all but one game as a rookie and became a full-time starter last year before an injury forced him to retire. Obviously, some Ravens rookies face longer odds than others to make the team, but it's foolish to be dismissive of anybody's roster chances this early.

When does training camp start?

Ravens veterans have to report by July 26. The first full-squad practice of training camp will be on the 27th. Until then, players will be tasked with keeping in shape and keeping out of trouble, while executives and coaches enjoy their final – and probably only – stretch of time off before the grind of the season begins.