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Holt Adds Spark to Free Agent Wideouts


While there have been several notable signings on the free agent market already this year, the receiver position has seen a dearth of big names.

With the exception of Terrell Owens, the brash former Dallas Cowboy who recently joined the Buffalo Bills, not many of the available prospects possessed much star power.

That changed last week when the St. Louis Rams said goodbye to veteran Torry Holt after 10 years with the franchise.

Holt, who will turn 33 by the 2009 regular season opener, is currently vacationing out of the country, according to The Nashville City Paper, precluding him from officially visiting with any suitor.

It is unknown whether the Ravens are interested in the seven-time Pro Bowler, but it is also evident that the team would like to improve at the position.

Derrick Mason led the team with 80 receptions for 1,037 yards and five touchdowns in 2008. Mark Clayton added 41 catches for 695 yards, but beyond that, the Ravens' next four producers in the receiving game were three running backs and a tight end.

Since he arrived in Baltimore four years ago, Mason has been the steadiest wideout. He owns the team's top three single-season marks for grabs (103 in 2007, 86 in '05 and 80 in '08).

But, the 35-year-old told the NFL Network last week that he was actively seeking a contract extension, which could be a risk because of his age.

"If we can get that deal done, then that will be great," Mason said during an in-studio appearance. "But if not, then we have to explore other options after that. I don't know where this thing is going to end, but I think I've earned the right by what I've done on the field - and off the field - for the last four years with the Ravens."

That day, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome maintained that he had no plans in moving forward without Mason.

"Derrick Mason is a member of the Baltimore Ravens at this point, and we really anticipate that he will be a member of the Baltimore Ravens when the season starts," Newsome told The Baltimore Sun.

Exactly who is joining him in the meeting rooms has yet to be determined.

Holt could be an attractive option considering his ability to stretch the field in spite of his veteran status. He does have a knee issue that may cause concern.

Holt played in all 16 games in 2006, he was limping badly after the season finale and had surgery in February of 2007 to repair torn cartilage in the knee. Still, Holt bounced back to haul in 93 passes for 1,189 yards and seven touchdowns that season, and he was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl.

In 2008, however, Holt's numbers dipped drastically, as he only caught 64 balls for 796 yards, far below his 1,266-yard average per year.

The Ravens also have other options to bolster the receiving corps. Signing another free agent is always an option, but there are prospects in-house already.

Demetrius Williams, who was working out at the Ravens' training facility Monday, is expected to have a full recovery from the ankle injury that landed him on Injured Reserve after only seven games.

Veteran Marcus Maxwell, at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, fits the mold offensive coordinator Cam Cameron likes in his targets.

Either one of a pair of former draft picks, Marcus Smith and Justin Harper, could break out, and 6-foot-5 Ernie Wheelwright and 6-foot-4 Ed Williams, two former undrafted free agents, showed promise in practice last year.

The Ravens will also likely spend a draft pick on a wideout.

So even though Newsome and Co. have been relatively quiet when it's come to addressing the Ravens' receivers, it's a pretty safe bet that there will be some new faces - and sets of hands - in Baltimore when Joe Flacco takes his first snaps of minicamps.

Other Notable Free Agent WRs

  • Marvin Harrison (IND) - It's kind of shocking that the aging playmaker hasn't received many reported sniffs, but that's the reality for receivers as they get up there in their careers. Harrison is the NFL's active receptions leader and a future Hall of Famer, so a team will probably pick him up at some point.
  • Amani Toomer (NYG) - Toomer is a super No. 2 receiver with the sure hands you want. He's not a speedster, but at 6-foot-3, he can make plays for the offense.
  • Shaun McDonald (DET) - Limited to only 12 games last year, McDonald was largely invisible for the Lions and their stagnant offense. But in 2007, McDonald went off for 943 yards and six scores on 79 catches.
  • Lance Moore (NO) - Here's another burner that is out there with youth (25) and speed. He's a restricted free agent, however, so the Saints could still retain him if another team makes an offer.

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