Imagine the Ravens facing the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, except wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace were wearing Patriots uniforms.
That could have been the case had it not been for some free-agency recruiting on behalf of the Ravens and Head Coach John Harbaugh.
Smith Sr. and Wallace were both scheduled to visit New England for a free-agency visit in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Neither of them made the destination because they never left Baltimore.
"I'm not going to say I was going to sign there, but I was going to at least take a visit," Wallace said this week. "If I went up there, there was probably a 50-50 chance [I would have signed]. Either here or there, it was one of the two."
In Wallace's case, Harbaugh put on the full-court press while General Manager Ozzie Newsome worked out the details with Wallace's agent.
Wallace liked what he saw and heard, but told Harbaugh he still wanted to visit New England, just to see their sales pitch. Harbaugh told him to sit tight for a minute.
"I'm sitting there for 20 or 30 minutes and I'm like, 'Man, there's no way possible I'm going to catch my flight!'" Wallace said on "The Lounge" podcast.
Wallace said the Patriots were an alluring spot because "I kinda wanted to ball out." The prospect of playing with quarterback Tom Brady in a pass-heavy offense was tempting.
"I knew there were three teams where I would ball out: here, New England or go back to Pittsburgh," Wallace said. "Here, they had money and opportunity."
There was one more reason why Wallace was leaning toward Baltimore.
"I felt like Coach Harbaugh was going to allow me to be myself and act how I act," Wallace said. "I don't want to be a guy that has to go in and walk on eggshells. In New England, I hear that's what you kind of have to do. Coach Harbaugh has given me the opportunity to be myself and be comfortable, and I've loved every minute of it."
When speaking with reporters this week, Smith wasn't as interested in thinking back to the possibility of becoming a Patriot.
"That was a long time ago. A lot has transpired," Smith said. "Yeah, I spoke, but I'm here, so that has nothing to do with this game coming up, does it?"
One other prominent Raven also thought about joining the Patriots. Safety Eric Weddle said there was talk between his side and the Patriots when he was a free agent this past offseason.
"Obviously, I was interested," Weddle said when speaking with Patriots reporters this week. "I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration, and envy, quite honestly, of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Battling them in my career, it's always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar."
It's a good thing all three went with the Ravens. Wallace leads the Ravens in receiving yards (851 yards) and receiving touchdowns (four). Smith is second in yards (589) and touchdowns (three). Weddle is the secondary's leader, and has the team's second-most tackles (61) and is tied with the team lead in interceptions (three).