Who's Out There? – Wide Receivers

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As we all know, the wide receiver position has been one of much consternation over … well, the past 14 years in Baltimore. This offseason will be no different.

With three unrestricted free agents (Derrick Mason, Kelley Washington, David Tyree) and two restricted (Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams), the Ravens' wide receiving crew could look very different next year. And after the group tallied just 12 catches over its final three games, the Ravens will surely be looking to upgrade. Even Clayton said it would be nice to add "a straight playmaker" to the Ravens' unit.

So without further adieu, let's see who's out there and their chances of landing with the Ravens.

NOTE: Under the rules of this year's collective bargaining agreement, the Ravens allowed to sign just one unrestricted free agent to a salary of $5.5 (estimated) million or higher. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in a one-year contract with the following years limited to a 30 percent increase. Besides that, the Ravens *are not allowed to sign an unrestricted free agent unless one of theirs signs with another team. And the first year salary of the unrestricted free agent signed cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost.*

**

Vincent Jackson, San Diego ChargersRestricted; 6-5, 238; 5 years
2009 Stats: 68 receptions, 1,167 yards, 9 touchdowns
Jackson may be the biggest prize on the market this offseason. A big, physical receiver with good hands, Jackson would definitely bring big-play potential to the Ravens. He also worked with Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for two years when Cam was in San Diego. But after back-to-back productive seasons, Jackson will command a big payday.
Does it make sense? Maybe
(Upside – Playmaker, Downside – Cost)

Miles Austin, Dallas CowboysRestricted; 6-3, 216; 4 years
2009 Stats:81 receptions, 1,320 yards, 11 touchdowns
Austin is a wild card. In his first three years in Dallas he caught a total of 18 passes. He broke out this season and could be a major building block for the Cowboys going forward considering his young age. Austin would also require a sizeable contract.
Does it make sense?No
(Upside – Playmaker; Downsides – Cost, Unproven)

Brandon Marshall, Denver BroncosRestricted; 6-4, 230; 4 years
2009 Stats: 101 receptions, 1,120 yards, 10 touchdowns
Marshall's talent is undeniable, evidenced by his 21 catch, 200-yard performance against the Colts this year. That's not the issue. He was benched at the start of the season when he pouted after not being traded and was sat again for Denver's final game. Marshall could be on the Broncos' chopping block, but he's restricted and would demand a huge contract.
Does it make sense? No
(Upside – Elite playmaker; Downside – Cost, Character issues)

Terrell Owens, Buffalo BillsUnrestricted; 6-3, 218; 14 years
2009 Stats: 55 receptions, 829 yards, 5 touchdowns
Owens is coming off the worst season since he was a rookie. Part of that is that the Bills' passing attack was anemic and part is that Owens is simply getting older. He struggles with drops, but can still be a legitimate No. 1 threat. Owens has character question marks and burned the Ravens once already in free agency. He signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal last year and will probably get less this offseason, so the price could be right. There was speculation that the Ravens were interested in Owens at the trade deadline.
Does it make sense? Maybe
(Upside – Proven; Downside – Age, Character issues)

Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay BuccaneersUnrestricted; 6-1, 205; 7 years
2009 Stats: 39 receptions, 600 yards, 4 touchdowns
Bryant injured his knee during training and was able to start just 11 games this past season. But if healthy, the speedster can put up big numbers. He notched 83 catches for 1,248 yards in 2008 and has averaged more than 15 yards per reception the past three years. He's a playmaker and the price may be within reach.
Does it make sense? Yes
(Upside – Playmaker; Downside – Injury concerns)

Malcolm Floyd, San Diego ChargersRestricted; 6-5, 225; 5 years
2009 Stats: 45 receptions, 776 yards, 1 touchdown
You want a deep threat? Well take a look at this monster. He averaged 17.2 yards per catch the past two seasons and is a matchup nightmare for cornerbacks. He hasn't had that breakout season yet, but that could mean he isn't in line for a big contract. Floyd also worked with Cam Cameron in San Diego. Since he's restricted, however, the Ravens would have to give up draft picks to pry him from the Chargers.
Does it make sense? Maybe
(Upside – Potential; Downside – Unproven)

Kevin Walter, Houston TexansUnrestricted; 6-3, 214; 7 years
2009 Stats: 53 receptions, 611 yards, 2 touchdowns
Walter has been pretty steady over the past three years as the Texans' No. 2 target behind All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson. The former seventh-rounder is a big target, has good hands and is good in third-down situations (63 percent of his catches went for first downs), a place where Washington excelled for the Ravens this season. He can play outside or in the slot, showing the versatility that the Ravens covet.
Does it make sense? Yes
(Upside – Consistent, Versatile; Downside – Not Explosive)

Steve Breaston, Arizona CardinalsRestricted; 6-0, 193; 3 years
2009 Stats: 55 receptions, 712 yards, 3 touchdowns
Breaston's future may be largely determined by what happens with Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin. If Boldin gets his wish and is traded, the Cardinals would have more desire to hang onto Breaston. Breaston put up big numbers in chances to start, including seven catches for 125 yards and a TD in the playoffs versus the Packers. He's young and fast and it may be his time to break out.
Does it make sense? Maybe
(Upside – Potential; Downside – Unproven)

Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina PanthersUnrestricted; 6-2, 215; 14 years
2009 Stats: 53 receptions, 581 yards, 1 touchdown
If the Ravens lose veteran Derrick Mason to retirement or free agency, they may give Muhammad a harder look. Like Mason, he's a proven possession receiver with good hands. Muhammad, 36, hasn't been a No. 1 target for several years, but he's consistent, big and talented. The Ravens could probably get him for less money than Mason will command.
Does it make sense? Yes
(Upside – Proven; Downside – Age)

Jason Avant, Philadelphia EaglesRestricted; 6-0, 212; 4 years
2009 Stats: 41 receptions, 587 yards, 3 touchdowns
Avant is a young, speedy, sure-handed target. He's also good on third down (26 of his 41 catches moved the chains). He's a Philly guy to boot, which Head Coach John Harbaugh has to like. But Avant's experience in the NFL is in the slot and he has yet to make a major impact.
Does it make sense? Maybe
(Upside – Potential; Downside – Unproven)

Other Players to Watch:

  • Braylon Edwards, New York Jets, Restricted
  • Nate Burleson, Minnesota Vikings, Unrestricted
  • Lance Moore, New Orleans, Restricted
  • Hank Baskett, Indianapolis, Restricted
  • Domenik Hixon, N.Y. Giants, Restricted
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