Continuing their makeover at the position, the Ravens have signed New Orleans Saints restricted free agent Willie Snead to an offer sheet, sources confirmed. The Saints now have five days to match the deal or they’ll lose Snead, who had been in line to play the season on the low $1.9 million tender, to the Ravens without compensation.
According to ESPN, the deal between the Ravens and Snead is a two-year agreement for $7 million with a $2 million signing bonus and an additional $3.4 million available in incentives. The deal was struck on Friday, which was the final day restricted free agents could sign offer sheets with teams.
The Saints only have about $6 million in salary cap space and they recently signed restricted free agent and one-time Ravens target Cameron Meredith away from the Chicago Bears. He joins a receiving group that also includes Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon Coleman, who was re-signed by the Saints this week. If the Saints don’t view Snead as one of their top three or four receiving options, it’s highly unlikely they’ll match the deal.
The Ravens traditionally haven’t been active on the restricted free-agent market, but signing Snead to an offer sheet continues their offseason efforts to explore every avenue in trying to upgrade one of the league’s least productive wide receiving groups last season. The Ravens signed free agents Michael Crabtree and John Brown and they’ve bid on numerous other receivers, including Allen Robinson, Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns and Bryant. The Ravens verbally agreed to a deal with Ryan Grant, but backed out because of concerns about his physical. They’ve also hosted Eric Decker, Michael Floyd and Meredith on free-agent visits.
Snead, 25, had worked out for the Ravens in March along with Floyd. The two caught passes at the workout from Robert Griffin III, who the Ravens ultimately signed to back up Joe Flacco.
While he’s coming off an unproductive season, Snead would give the Ravens a more proven option in the slot. Crabtree and Brown are more suited to play outside. Their top slot option currently on the roster is Tim White, who missed the entire 2017 season with a thumb injury and has yet to catch a pass in an NFL regular-season game.
The Snead addition, though, would almost certainly take the Ravens out of the running for Bryant, the former Dallas Cowboys star who was released last week.
The Ravens maintained interest in Bryant, but it was never clear whether there was any momentum toward a deal. Bryant reportedly wants to stay in the NFC East and his top choice is the New York Giants.
Snead has 149 catches for 1,971 yards and seven touchdown receptions over the past three seasons for the New Orleans Saints. The former undrafted free agent out of Ball State burst on the scene in 2015, catching 69 passes for 984 yards and three touchdowns 15 games for the Saints.
Quick and elusive, he followed that up with another solid season, catching 72 balls for 895 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games in 2016. However, he took a significant step back last year. He was suspended for the first three games of the season after violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The suspension stemmed from an offseason arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated and failing to maintain proper control of a vehicle.
When Snead returned to the field, he made little impact. He caught just eight passes for 92 yards in 11 games, including seven starts, and was bothered by a hamstring injury.
His addition probably wouldn’t stop the Ravens from taking a wide receiver early in next week’s draft. However, it would seemingly make it less of a priority.