“I’m a starter in this league, and I feel like I can make a lot of plays, and I make plays when they come my way,” he said.
Aiken’s perspective did not jibe with his coaches’, however, which is partly why the pending unrestricted free agent is open to testing the market in March.
Filling in for an injured Steve Smith Sr. (torn right Achilles tendon) in 2015-16, Aiken led the offense in receptions (75), yards (944) and touchdown catches (five). This past season, Aiken slid down the depth chart, behind Smith, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, and finished with 29 receptions for 328 yards and one score.
“Frustrating. Very frustrating,” Aiken said of his 29-catch, 328-yard campaign, which included almost as much time on special teams as on offense. “Probably, it’s been the most frustrating year I’ve ever had since I’ve been in the league. I would say I was proud of how I handled it. I handled it the best way I could, the best way to my knowledge that I know I could. So I’m all right with it.”
Aiken said he approached offensive coordinators Marc Trestman and Marty Mornhinweg about an expanded role but was rebuffed. Aiken would not rule out returning to the Ravens but acknowledged that he will listen to all offers.
“I’m open,” he said. “It’s going to be the first time in my career that I’m able to hit the market and see what it is. So I’m happy and I’m looking forward to it.”
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, another pending unrestricted free agent, sounded more optimistic about returning to the Ravens.
“I know something will work out for me,” said Juszczyk, the 2013 fourth-round pick who led all NFL fullbacks this season in catches (37) and yards (266). “I’m encouraged that I think there’s a possibility that it could be here. That would be great. I’ve been here for four years and I’ve built a lot of relationships and this team knows me best. If things work out that way, that would be great. I’m just excited.”