Reporting Rob Long
When the Baltimore Ravens decided to trade Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth round draft pick, we thought the team was convinced the young group of receivers were ready to step up and produce. Dennis Pitta was a proven “Go To” guy, Ed Dickson has experienced some success, Torrey Smith showed signs of being that “Number one” and they already had guys like Jacoby Jones in the mix. The trade made all the sense in the world if all of those pieces fell into place.
“If” is a very big word when you’re coming off of a Superbowl season and expect to contend for another championship. “If” is a gamble when your leader, Ray Lewis, just retired and you’ve decided not to bring Ed Reed back. “If” doesn’t cut it when Pitta suffers a season ending injury and Dickson has already missed time due to an injured hamstring.
No one can see the future and the move, which was scrutinized by many, did not seem to be that bad of a move at the time. Fast forward to today and the Ravens have to alter the original plan and look to free agency. They did exactly that by signing veterans Brandon Stokley, who’s already won a Superbowl with the team in 2001, and Dallas Clark. Both spent time with Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis. These moves tell me that the Ravens are not 100% sold on youngsters like Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson. The Clark signing could also mean either Dickson’s injury is going to take a little more time to heal or Visanthe Shiancoe is further past his prime than they’d like him to be.
Either way, this wasn’t the original plan. Whether you want to call it desperation or not, the Ravens are in Plan B mode, trying to put together a winner. Joe Flacco may not need All-Pro receivers on his roster, but he certainly needs ones who can get open and catch the ball consistantly. While you liked the performance of LaQuan Williams last Thursday against the Tampa Bay Bucs, he doesn’t have a proven track record like Stokley and Clark. Can those guys make it through an entire season in the twilight of their respective careers? Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, the Ravens are hopeful that Ed Dickson will fully recover and assume his proper role and then maybe you can look back at signing two veterans as a way of buying time for the younger players to step up. As for now “If” represents “What If…”