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Mailbag: Which Veteran Wide Receivers Could Ravens Target?

Bears CB Darnell Mooney
Bears CB Darnell Mooney

Mink: You're probably not going to like this answer. None of them. I think the Ravens' veteran free-agent wide receiver signing already happened with Nelson Agholor. My expectation is that Baltimore will turn to the draft to further enhance the wide receiver room and keep infusing it with more young talent that can grow with Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason, in part, because Rashod Bateman was coming off foot surgery. Bateman played a full season, so Baltimore can more assuredly count on him to be a reliable, high-producing starter in 2024. With Zay Flowers, Bateman, and Agholor in place, the Ravens have a talented receiver trio.

The mission now seems to be to fill out the room and continue to build for the future. If the Ravens don't pick up Bateman's fifth-year option for 2025, they'll need a new starter opposite Flowers. So the Ravens' 2025 receiver needs are heavier than their 2024 needs. That points to the draft as the solution.

Free-agent wide receivers are expensive. Even someone such as Darnell Mooney, who hasn't topped 500 receiving yards the past two seasons, is projected to get $10 million per year. The Ravens don't have a lot of cap space and they have bigger immediate needs at offensive lineman, outside linebacker, or running back. Those are the positions where I could see them spending some money.

Plus, there's a strong track record that teams can get instant production from rookie receivers (and get it much cheaper). Last season, it was Flowers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, Puka Nacua, Jayden Reed, Rashee Rice, Tank Dell, and Josh Downs. The year before, it was Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jahan Dotson, Christian Watson, George Pickens, and Alec Pierce. The buzz about this year's wide receiver class is that it is every bit as strong as its recent predecessors and I'm sure the Ravens will tap into it at some point in the draft.

The top free-agent receivers are going to get paid very handsomely. Maybe the market for the second- or third-tier wide receivers shrinks because of the success of rookies and the strength of the incoming class. In that case, Baltimore could always hop on a bargain veteran this summer. But I doubt it.

Mink: Patrick Queen is going to be a free agent. The Ravens' decision to place the franchise tag on Justin Madubuike made that clear. I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of the Ravens re-signing Queen and Madubuike, but it seems highly unlikely that they could afford big-time deals for both. Not with Lamar Jackson's salary cap number going up, Roquan Smith already on a hefty long-term deal, and other high-priced players already on the books (and more coming down the road… cough, cough, Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum).

Queen is going to get his bag this offseason (probably around $20 million per year), and he deserves it. He's a great player. Unfortunately, you can't keep all your great players when you have a lot of them. This is one of those bittersweet cases where I think the Ravens will be happy to see one of their homegrown talents get a life-changing deal, but obviously sad not to still have him in Baltimore. Such is life.

Mink: I would love to have Saquon Barkley. He's a special talent and seems like a special person. He would add another dangerous element to Baltimore's attack and be another leader on the offensive side of the ball. I expect he'll re-sign with the Giants, who effectively have nearly $30 million in cap space right now compared to Baltimore's -$12.5 million, per Over the Cap.

Spotrac projects Barkley to fetch a contract just below $10 million per year, and Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs are projected to get very similar deals. There has been a lot of buzz about the Ravens being in on the veteran free-agent running backs, but I don't think they're going to get into a bidding war over any of them.

I don't know that anyone knows what to expect from the running back market. Will some teams try to pounce early to grab a top back? Will they all sit out there for a while like last year? Will some of the more budget-friendly running backs, such as Tony Pollard or D'Andre Swift, be more desirable?

If it were me, I would be patient. Keep tabs on Barkley and all the top free agents. See how much their prices drop. Even if Baltimore doesn't land a top running back, bringing back J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, or turning to the draft aren't bad options.

Mink: If the Ravens part ways with Ronnie Stanley and/or Morgan Moses, they are going to need to draft an offensive tackle early – probably with their first pick. Even if they don't, they need a succession plan in place. As outlined above, wide receiver isn't as pressing of a need. I think the Ravens are more likely to look offensive tackle on Day 1 and wide receiver on Day 2.

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