Baltimore Ravens Free Agency: Why the Team Must Sign Ted Ginn Jr.

Kyle Casey@@kylecasey094Correspondent IIIMarch 18, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25:  Ted Ginn #19 of the San Francisco 49ers returns a kickoff against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

When it was announced that the Baltimore Ravens missed out on signing Evan Mathis on Saturday, things got a bit tense in Baltimore, and with good reason.

The team has not signed a single player so far in free agency, while losing three key starters in the process. Thus, the team is under much pressure to make a noteworthy signing.

That could come by signing San Francisco 49ers wide receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn Jr. Multiple sources reported yesterday that Ginn had met with the Ravens sometime during the last few days, which is a promising sign for Baltimore.

If the team can find a way to sign Ginn, he would help solve the most hidden problem for the Ravens: the kick return game.

While the needs for a left guard, linebacker and backup running back have been publicized, the need for a top-tier kick returner has not.

That is quite surprising, as the kick return game was the Ravens' Achilles Heel in 2011. The team rarely returned a kickoff past the 25-yard line, constantly putting the the offense in a tough situation to begin each drive.

Despite an embarrassing game against the Seattle Seahawks, wide receiver David Reed was the team's best kick returner. Reed had an average of 29.7 yards on 18 attempts, which would have been the second-best in the league last year had he had enough attempts to qualify.

Sure, 29.7 yards per attempt is a pretty solid average, but Reed, who will likely not return to the Ravens in 2012, lacks that explosive speed that makes him a threat to take the kick back for a touchdown.

After Reed went down with an injury during the season, players such as Tom Zbikowski and LaQuan Williams saw time returning kicks, but rarely even took the ball out of the end zone.

That means the Ravens need to turn towards free agency or the draft to find a prime returner, and that's how Ginn enters the mix.

Ginn ranked third in the league in yards per attempt in 2011 with an average of 27.6 yards. That is two yards less than Reed's average, but Ginn is much more explosive as he is a threat to return the kick for a touchdown on any given play.

Not only is Ginn one of the best kick returners in the NFL, but he is one of the best punt returners in the league as well.

Ginn averaged 12.3 yards per punt return in 2011, which ranked him fourth in the league.

Not only is Ginn one of the best returners in the NFL, he is a solid option as a third receiver. The Ravens are still looking for one or two more receivers to add to the mix, after releasing Lee Evans and waiting on Tandon Doss to develop.

Ginn had 19 receptions for 220 yards in 2011, and has 159 career catches. Sure, Ginn isn't known to be a top receiver, but he is a good option for the team as a downfield threat, much like the role Torrey Smith had in his rookie season.

If the Ravens fail the land Ginn, fans in Baltimore will start to get quite worried. Ginn is the type of explosive player that would add some excitement to the Ravens offense, which would certainly please the fan base.