The Ravens are again in the market for a wide receiver.
Finding a receiver is an annual talking point for Baltimore fans around this time of the year, and it takes on particular significance this offseason after the retirement of Steve Smith Sr.
Smith has been the leader of the Ravens receiver group for the last three years, and his departure leaves a void on Baltimore's offense that General Manager Ozzie Newsome is intent on filling in the next few months.
"We need to find a complementary receiver," Newsome said at the season-review press conference Tuesday.
Defining exactly what a "complementary receiver" is can be a little tricky, but it's clear the Ravens need a reliable target who can move the chains. In addition to losing Smith, the Ravens also have to decide whether to re-sign Kamar Aiken, who led the Ravens in receiving yards in 2015.
They already have multiple speed threats in Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Chris Moore, but they need a receiver who can pick up tough yards by making contested catches. They're also generally looking for more offensive playmakers, and there's not one specific receiver type who falls into that category.
A likely path to find the receiver Newsome covets is through free agency, where the Ravens been successful in the past. Picking up veteran receivers like Smith, Anquan Boldin and Derek Mason has been a shrewd strategy during Newsome's tenure, and he'll be on the lookout for similar receivers this offseason.
"Some of the success that we have had here is going out – whether it is by trade or free agency or cap casualty – and getting a veteran receiver that still has some juice left, that still has the ability to play at a high level," Newsome said. "When I was talking about getting a complementary receiver, that is what I was referring to."
A likely scenario in finding a veteran receiver this offseason is for the Ravens to target a player who gets released as a cap casualty, rather than a high-priced free agent. Signing cap casualties doesn't count against the compensatory pick formula, and they also typically come at a reduced price.
The Ravens could also look to the draft for a wideout – they've drafted a receiver in seven straight years in various rounds – but there's no guarantee that a rookie addition can make the kind of immediate impact the Ravens need.
"[A complementary receiver] does not necessarily have to come through the draft, but it can come through other means," Newsome said. "We definitely will be pursuing that this year."