Eisenberg: Five Thoughts on the Ravens' 'Receiver Project'


Some thoughts on what I'll call the Ravens' "Receiver Project," otherwise known as their attempt to give Joe Flacco better targets:

Don't gloss over the fact that they've gotten religion on the subject. It matters.

Remember, the Ravens were in a similar place a year ago, talking about wanting to add receivers who make plays, but they didn't draft an offensive skill-position player and their wide receiving corps remained the same except for the addition of Jeremy Maclin.

The organization hoped that would suffice, but the offense struggled.

Listening to GM Ozzie Newsome last week, it sure sounds as if the team is taking a more urgent approach this year.

"We're looking for the opportunity to change that room in terms of personnel and the people that are in that room," Newsome said, referencing the meeting room that houses the wide receivers. He would "leave no stones unturned," he added, in looking for new blood.

At the very least, it appears the Ravens will be much more proactive than a year ago, as they should be.

A Jarvis Landry signing sounds great, but beware of the cost.

Adding the three-time Pro Bowl wideout would significantly improve "the room," and ESPN reported Monday that the Ravens and Miami Dolphins have been in touch about a trade.

I'm sure some fans are fired up about what could happen, and from an age (25) and production standpoint, Landry would be an ideal signing. He's in his prime. But the Ravens need to be very careful.

They're going to have to give up a draft pick to get Landry and then give him a large contract. I'm not worried about the draft pick (see below) but Landry reportedly wants $14.5 million a year, which is what the league's best receivers make. That's a lot.

He did catch 112 passes in Miami in 2017, but he averaged just 8.8 yards per reception and 61.7 receiving yards per game. Is that worth $14.5 million a year? At the very least, it's a fair question the Ravens need to ask, as they don't have much cap room and need to address other positions, too.

The other teams also talking to Landry all have more cap room, which guarantees the price will be high. Too high for the Ravens? I guess we'll find out soon.

If they have to give up draft picks to get Landry or other receivers, that's fine.

Newsome revealed Friday that the Ravens tried to trade up in the first round of the 2017 draft. It's been widely reported that they also tried to trade up in the first round in 2016.

I'm not sure what prevented those deals, but in each case, the Ravens held on to draft picks, which is their natural reflex, one of their operating fundamentals – horde picks and build your foundation with them. It's a sound philosophy, but after three straight years of standing pat and not making the playoffs (while seeing some relatively high picks not pan out), the Ravens shouldn't hesitate to try a new approach.

At his age, Landry is worth a high pick. And if the Ravens have to deal a pick at some point in the draft to move up and grab a receiver they like, by all means, the time is right.

Newsome's comment doesn't bode well for the return of either Maclin or Mike Wallace.

When the GM says he wants to "change that room in terms of personnel," it's hard not to think about the biggest names.

Maclin, who caught a career-low 40 passes in 2017, has been prominently rumored as a possible salary-cap cut. Wallace, a pending free agent, was more productive and is liked by teammates and coaches, but he's expensive and it could be the Ravens want more bang for their buck.

The trickiest part about drafting receivers in 2018 could be trying to get them at the right slot.

Before the Combine, Alabama's Calvin Ridley was deemed the only receiver in the 2018 class worth a first-round pick. Ridley then had a solid if unspectacular Combine, while several other wideouts, including Maryland's D.J. Moore, opened eyes.

In the end, it could be no receiver is deemed worthy of the No. 16 overall pick, which the Ravens own, but a bunch are deemed worthy of going late in the first round through the second round.

The Ravens also own the No. 52 overall pick. Will the guy they like still be available then? How they navigate that tricky situation, and possibly move up or down, could tell the tale.

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