The Baltimore Ravens’ wide-receiving corps should look a lot different this season once the NFL lockout is lifted and the team reconvenes this summer.
Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason are the top two wideouts again, like they were last season, but the 37-year-old Mason likely will retire after this season. And unrestricted free agents Donte’ Stallworth and T.J. Houshmandzadeh probably won’t be brought back in high-paying backup roles.
The Ravens have some younger players like David Reed, James Hardy, Justin Harper and Brandon Jones who could fill those backup roles, but they also selected Torrey Smith in the second round and Tandon Doss in the fourth round during the NFL Draft to plan for the future. Smith is expected to be at least the No. 3 wideout, while Doss should battle the younger guys for time.
Mason is amazing, really, to still be effective at 37 years old. He’s extremely reliable and a great mentor for the young receivers. However, Flacco needs to figure out how to get enough passes to Boldin and him next season. Boldin’s production dropped considerably as the season wore on, and Mason appeared to be Flacco’s favorite receiver.
With running back Ray Rice also a valuable receiver for the Ravens, Flacco should have a lot of options. Tight end Todd Heap and backup Ed Dickson could be top targets as well, but when the Ravens need to get the ball downfield Boldin has to be the answer.
But in the end, it’s a good bet that Mason will lead the Ravens in receptions in what could be his last hurrah in the NFL after 15 long seasons.