Kamar Aiken led the Ravens in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2015.
His 2016 season was a far different tale, however.
The Ravens wide receiver expressed his displeasure with how his season went as he cleaned out his locker Monday afternoon. And now that he’s heading into free agency, it will be on his mind.
“Frustrating. Very frustrating,” Aiken said. “Probably the most frustrating year I’ve had since I’ve been in the league.”
Aiken signed a second-round restricted free-agent tender last offseason, showing the value the team placed in the former journeyman. Now he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this March.
Aiken was asked whether his frustration from this season would affect his free agency decision.
“Yes, I would say it would,” he said. “I’m open. This will be the first time in my career to hit the market and see what it is. I’m happy and I’m looking forward to it.”
Aiken said he would not rule out re-signing with Baltimore. The Ravens could be in the market for a wide receiver given the retirement of Steve Smith Sr., and Aiken has proven he can be effective.
After injuries to Smith and rookie Breshad Perriman last season, Aiken assumed the top spot in the Ravens’ wide receiver room. He delivered, posting 75 catches for 944 yards and five touchdowns.
But with Smith and Perriman missing just two games between them this season, and the addition of Mike Wallace, Aiken dropped to No. 4 in the pecking order. He notched 29 catches for 328 yards and one touchdown.
Aike endured 15 transactions between three teams in two years before landing on Baltimore’s practice squad in 2013. He worked his way up from there to become a special teams player, and ultimately to an offensive starter.
Last year, he said he wanted to stay in Baltimore for his entire career because it’s where he was given a chance to play. To have that role decreased the following year was a tough pill to swallow.
“I will say I’m proud of the way I handled it,” Aiken said. “I handled it the best way I could. I’m alright with it.”
Aiken said he spoke with Offensive Coordinators Marc Trestman and Marty Mornhinweg about his role, but that it didn’t change things.
The Ravens quite simply had an abundance of talent at the position and everybody couldn’t get as many touches as they likely wanted, especially if they all stayed as healthy as they did.
“I talked to them, but that was just my role for this year. They were set on that,” Aiken said.
“I’m a starter in this league. I feel like I make a lot of plays and I make plays when they come my way.”