On Monday morning, Ian Rapoport from NFL.com announced that the Bears will not be using the franchise tag on star receiver Alshon Jeffery, therefore making him a free agent heading into 2017.
If you listen really closely, you can hear about 500,000 ears in the mid-Atlantic perk up at the sound of an all-pro receiver becoming a free agent.
The Baltimore Ravens have only been a franchise since 1996, and we’ve hoisted two Super Bowl trophies in our short history. That’s great. Awesome. Being a Ravens fan has been incredible aside from the expected – and consistent – panic attacks every single Sunday.
There is one drawback, however, of being a Ravens fan or, at a minimum, actually watching the Ravens play: we’ve never had a legitimate number one receiver.
We’ve whiffed in the draft a couple times (ahem, Travis Taylor), a bunch of our guys haven’t panned out like we expected (ahem, Torrey Smith), or we’ve just opted to sign proven veterans (ahem, Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, etc.). There hasn’t ever really been a guy that can break a game open.
And I’m sick of it.
The Ravens led the NFL in passing attempts last year with 679 but finished 28th in the NFL in yards per attempt. They also finished tied for 20th in the NFL in passing TDs with 20.
Per analysis by Football Outsiders, Joe Flacco had a DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement; a metric that essentially ranks a quarterbacks value – read more here) of -126, which was 29th out of 34 eligible signal-callers. Here are some quarterbacks that scored better: Matt Ryan (+1918), Tom Brady (+1295), Ben Roethlisberger (+776), Brian Hoyer (+403), Trevor Siemian (+127), Blake Bortles (+55, no this is not a joke), Cody Kessler (+52, still not a joke), and Matt Barkley (-21, actually somehow still not a joke).
To sum it up, Flacco was incredibly underwhelming last year. Whether that’s a result of his decision-making, execution, offensive line play, or receiving weapons is something I won’t get into here. I can promise one thing, though:
The man needs weapons.
The Ravens haven’t had a 1,000 yard receiver since Derrick Mason in 2010 who posted a respectable but not overwhelming 1,028 yards.
Well you shouldn’t because it’s not true. There have been several other 1,000 yard receivers since then: Torrey Smith (1,128 in 2013), Steve Smith (1,065 in 2014), and Mike Wallace (1,017 in 2016).
I’d be willing to bet that 75% of Ravens fans (if not 95%) completely believed that we haven’t had a 1,000 yard receiver since Derrick Mason. I’d also be willing to bet that I could have said the last one was in 2007, and I’d still get about 50%.
The Saints, Broncos, Redskins, and Raiders all had two receivers with 1,000+ yards in 2016 (and the Packers needed three more yards out of Davante Adams and it would have been five teams), yet the Ravens have had four in seven seasons.
Do you see my point? The Ravens passing attack has never been anything for opponents to fear or for fans to get excited about. Even when they try to pass (see 2016), they’re still bad. It’s common knowledge that the NFL has become an extremely pass-heavy league. Of the top 25 passing seasons in NFL history terms of yardage, 22 (!) of them have happened since 2007.
I get it. Alshon Jeffery has his drawbacks. He hasn’t played a full season since 2014, and he’s one of those guys that will be questionable every single week. In his two full seasons in 2013 and 2014, however, Jeffery posted 1,421 and 1,133 receiving yards, respectively. Psst…both of those are more than all four Ravens 1,000+ seasons since 2010. He’s 27 years old and 6’4, and I’m sure he’s pumped to get out of Chicago. Probably because of the wind. Oh and the awful football team.
I’m begging you, Ozzie and friends, just get him. Just do it. Shell out the money for a premier receiver and watch the transformation of the Ravens offense. I can’t live out another season as a resident of Check-down City.