Derrick Mason has come back from a short-lived retirement and with that, has put a spark back into the Raven's Super Bowl hopes. But, even with the elated mood, the Ravens cannot possibly ignore what could have been.
With Mason retired, the Ravens were facing what would have been the worst receiving corps in the NFL. The Ravens needed to address the wide receiver position in the offseason. With seasoned veterans such as Joey Galloway and Torry Holt available, the Ravens could have stopped a disaster waiting to happen.
However, the Ravens were forced to wait with the need to save cap in order to sign Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata to long-term deals. So, when this year is all said and done, whether or not Mason officially retires, the Ravens will once again be in pursuit of a game-breaking wide receiver.
The question is who do they turn to? Should the Ravens try to get someone via the draft or sign an impact free agent? Joe Flacco needs a tall possession receiver to help catch the long ball.
The Ravens have that in Demetrius Williams, but do to injuries; he has only accumulated 866 yards and three touchdowns over the three years he has been in the NFL.
The optimal choice for the Ravens would be to go after someone in the free agent pool, that way they know exactly what they are getting. Assuming that their respective teams do not re-sign them first, players such as Greg Jennings, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Domenik Hixon, Braylon Edwards and Lee Evans will all become free agents in 2010.
With all of the turmoil, the Ravens had a chance at Marshall this offseason, but behavior issues and price is what cost the pro bowl receiver a move to Baltimore. Ozzie Newsome could be waiting for the troubled Marshall to fall in the free agent pool in 2010.
Jennings and White are dream situations for the Ravens, as their chance of resigning is extremely high. Realistically, Hixon, Edwards, and Evans are all possibilities in 2010.
Hixon will be the lead receiver for the Giants this year and will attempt to prove himself and earn a top bill contract in 2010. Plaxico Burress is gone, along with Amani Toomer, leaving Hixon to take the number one spot for Eli Manning.
But, with Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Ramses Barden, the overload on receivers could leave the speedy Hixon team less for 2010.
Edwards, the 6'3" pro bowl receiver, is the Ravens optimal choice to land at M&T Bank stadium. Edwards has also had his fair share of problems over the past two years.
The Browns receiver led the league in dropped balls last season and is starting training camp on the physically unable to play list. If his dropped ball count lowers and he can get healthy, the Ravens are sure to take a shot at Edwards.
Lee Evans is sure to draw interest from the Ravens as a deep threat. Evans has always been a one man show in Buffalo, but with the arrival of Terrell Owens, Evans should find himself open on more occasions.
However, Evans is only that, a deep threat, and isn't one of the best possession receivers in the NFL. The Bills will likely take a shot a resigning Evans, but if Owens does good the Bills may go after him instead. The Ravens could use Evans, but isn't the best fit at wide receiver.
If the Ravens opt for the draft, the receiving options are very limited. The big two prospects at receiver are Brandon LaFell and Mardy Gilyard. LaFell has been the No. 1 receiver for the LSU Tigers ever since the departure of Early Doucet in 2008. LaFell accumulated 929 yards and eight touchdowns in his first full season as the leader of the Tiger's receiving corps.
Mardy Gilyard has been the best receiver to grace a Cincinnati Bearcats uniform since Antonio Chatman. Gilyard caught 88 passes for 1276 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Other than LaFell and Gilyard, the Ravens draft options at receiver are limited until the late third round.
The Ravens do in fact have plenty of options in 2010 offseason. However, the options need to be addressed and fast, while the defense is still young and their hopes of achieving a Super Bowl victory don't become dreams.