Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco lost his favorite target this past offseason in Derrick Mason and replaced him with the Buffalo Bills' Lee Evans. Evans is a burner that has struggled with niggling injuries over the past few seasons.
Neither of those things can be said about Mason, but that does not mean Evans cannot replace Mason in the Ravens offense.
Mason was the perfect possession receiver for Flacco. He was a 14-year veteran with 924 receptions and over 11,000 yards. For most of his time in Baltimore, he led the team's receivers in receptions.
Lee Evans is a very different type of player. Despite being 30 years of age, he has been in the league half as long as Mason. During that time, he has accrued only 377 receptions but still managed to over half the yards with 5,934.
That is the thing about Lee Evans moving to Baltimore: He is not going to directly replace Derrick Mason's role and contribution to the offense.
However, the Ravens do not need him to.
Last season I really disliked the Ravens receiving corp because the overall lack of speed amongst the top three receivers left a lot to be desired. Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin were too similar while T.J. Houshmandzadeh was too far past his prime.
The Ravens already have the perfect replacement for Mason in Boldin.
Boldin essentially played the Derrick Mason role during his time in Arizona as he racked up the receptions. The truth is, he will probably be better at it than Mason. While Mason had some of the most reliable hands in football and ran expert routes, so does Boldin, but Boldin has the added advantage of great explosion and the ability to hit home runs from deep.
Evans doesn't necessarily replace Mason at all. The Ravens had already replaced him with Boldin. He does give the team a second veteran receiver and the right complement to Boldin in order to allow him to flourish.
With the amount of speed in the Ravens receiving corps now, Boldin will have a lot of space to work the underneath of the defense and put up huge numbers.
Lee Evans cannot replace Derrick Mason, but the Ravens already have. The receiving corps this season should at the very least be as effective as last year's group.
In my mind, it will be better.