As the Ravens prepare for the combine next week,* *followed by free agency and the draft, let's take stock of each position.
Here's a look at wide receiver and tight end:
What Ravens Have
16 starts, 65 catches, 1,128 yards, 4 touchdowns
Smith got off to a sizzling start last season, and led the NFL in receiving yards after five weeks. He was averaging more than 111 yards per game. Overall, Smith continued his growth as a receiver last year. He became more of a complete target, running many different routes well. But Smith averaged just 52 yards per game after Week 5. He chided himself for not making more plays when he had opportunities. Smith is the Ravens' top receiver, and he'll continue to improve.
Lots of youthGoing into his fourth season, Smith is the elder statesman of the receiving group. Marlon Brown just finished a successful rookie season. Then there's Deonte Thompson, who will be entering his third year after two quiet seasons. The other wide receivers on the roster are Kamar Aiken, Aaron Mellette and Gerrard Sheppard. At tight end, the Ravens only have Nathan Overbay and practice squad player Matt Furstenburg.
What Ravens Are Looking For
A reliable chain moverGeneral Manager Ozzie Newsome said the Ravens need a pass catcher, whether it's a wide receiver or tight end, who "can make a third-and-7, third-and-8 catch and run after the catch." The Ravens had that with Anquan Boldin, who could haul in contested passes in traffic, then muscle his way down the field for a few yards. The Ravens would like somebody that can get more yardage after the catch with similar reliability and toughness.
Will Jacoby Jones be back?Jacoby Jones, an unrestricted free agent, was a playmaker again last year, occasionally as a wide receiver and mostly on special teams. He finished the year, after missing four games due to a knee injury, with 37 catches for 455 yards and two touchdowns. He was dynamic on special teams late in the year, scoring a touchdown in the snow against Minnesota and nearly breaking loose versus Pittsburgh. It's unknown what the market will be for Jones, who says he would love to stay in Baltimore, but added football is a business.
What happens with Pitta, Dickson?
Dennis Pitta is an unrestricted free agent. Both sides have said they would like to remain together, but Pitta could command a large salary on the open market. There has also been speculation that the Ravens could place the franchise tag on Pitta, ensuring he's a Raven for at least one more year. Pitta proved he recovered from hip surgery with 20 catches for 169 yards and one touchdown in four games. Dickson is also an unrestricted free agent, and did not deliver on his hopes of a big season with Pitta sidelined, hauling in 25 passes for 273 yards and a score.
Will Ravens tender Doss?The Ravens released Tandon Doss at the end of training camp last year, but he produced after he was re-signed. Doss notched 19 catches for 305 yards and returned a punt for a touchdown, mostly over a five-game stretch from Weeks 4 through 9. After a fumble in Cleveland, he had a smaller offensive role and just four catches in the final eight games. Doss is a restricted free agent, and the Ravens have a track record of bringing such players back. But he'll likely be once again battling for a roster spot.