Ravens can't take pass on wide-out this time

Newsome under pressure to find a big-play receiver, fast

February 04, 2010|By Kevin Cowherd

Oh, is this going to be a fun offseason for the Ravens.

They held their season-ending "State of the Ravens" news conference at The Castle on Wednesday and trotted out the Big Four - owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh - to talk about everything from how the uncapped year will affect free-agent signings, to whether Ed Reed and Derrick Mason will retire, to how much Joe Flacco progressed in 2009.

But the main thing I got out of the presser was this: The heat's definitely on Newsome to find a big-play wide receiver - and pronto.

No, the Ravens can't stick their heads in the sand anymore and pretend this isn't priority No. 1.

Look, it was a major priority last offseason, when everyone and his brother knew this team had to upgrade dramatically at the position.

Mason wasn't getting any younger and Mark Clayton was disappearing in too many games. They needed a big, strong, fast game-breaker.

So what did the Ravens do about the situation?

Well, they signed Kelley Washington as a free agent in May. And that proved to be a good move - he gave them depth at the position. But other than that, they didn't do a whole lot.

Sticking to their best-player-available strategy, they drafted Michael Oher in the first round, Paul Kruger in the second and Lardarius Webb in the third.

OK, Kruger was a disappointment. But you sure can't quibble with the other two picks.

Oher had a terrific season and looks like he could be a monster Pro Bowl-quality tackle. And Webb was really coming on at cornerback before his season-ending injury.

But that didn't exactly help the team at wide receiver.

Then Mason decided to retire right before training camp, which threw the whole team into a tizzy. Newsome, he must have been running around with his hair on fire until Mason un-retired a few days later.

The truth is that back then, the Ravens' GM was banking on Demetrius Williams making a big impact on the receiving corps. Williams was their fourth-round draft choice back in 2006 and seemed to fit the bill: big, strong, fast, etc.

But we all know how that worked out - not so well.

The guy hardly played at all. And when he did, he mostly had no impact (eight catches, 142 yards, one touchdown).

"What happened with Demetrius was Derrick, Mark and Kelley Washington," Newsome said Wednesday. "We created a competition situation, and John and Cam [Cameron, offensive coordinator] had the responsibility of putting the best three wide receivers on the field."

Translation: Oops. The guy wasn't as good as I thought he'd be.

"He's not able to do enough," Harbaugh said of Williams, referring to running pass routes, catching the ball in pressure situations, making the right decisions on coverages, etc.

So now you have Mason making noise about retiring again, which just makes the need for a big-play pass-catcher all the more pressing.

Here's another interesting thing that came out of the Big Four's presser: The Ravens are open to signing a head case at wide-out if it comes to that.

OK, that's not exactly how Bisciotti and Newsome phrased it.

But when asked whether they would automatically shy away from a player with, ahem, a "reputation," both basically said no.

Bisciotti said he himself was a risk-taker when it comes to that sort of signing.

And Newsome said: "I leave myself open to anything."

So all you Ravens fans who've been pining for nutty Brandon Marshall - he had a great year with the Denver Broncos (101 catches for 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns) and wants to be traded again for the umpteenth time - well, you could get your wish.

Sure, it's a long shot. All things being equal, the Ravens try not to sign head cases.

It's not in their DNA to do so.

But if they could get a talent like Marshall for little more than a first-round draft pick, I think they'd make the deal in a heartbeat.

Of course, there are other ways to land a wide receiver without going the head-case route.

It has been suggested that the Ravens should sign San Diego Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who'll be a restricted free agent if 2010 is an uncapped season.

Me, I'm OK with that move. Floyd is big (6 feet 5), strong (225 pounds) and averaged 17.2 yards a catch, which means he can make big plays.

But it doesn't matter what I think.

Or what anyone else thinks, either.

All that matters is what Newsome thinks.

And right now, the heat's definitely on him to come through.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

Discuss this story and others in our talk forums Most recent sports talk forum topics:

More sports talk forums: Orioles | Ravens | Pro Sports | College | Lacrosse | High School | Outdoors
Note: In-story commenting has been temporarily disabled due to technical issues. We are working to correct the issue and will bring back this feature in the future. In the meantime, please use our talk forums to discuss stories.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.