The Pittsburgh Steelers shouldn’t be worried but should expect the Baltimore Ravens to make a move at one of the two big name receivers in free agency.
After being released by the Kansas City Chiefs, Jeremy Maclin became the hottest name in free agency. Less than a week later, Eric Decker added his name to the list after being told by the New York Jets that he will be traded or released by the end of the week.
In both situations, these players hit the free agent market in order for their former teams to save cap space. Despite losing a Pro Bowl caliber player, the Chiefs and Jets were content with moving on from their standout receivers.
Although the Buffalo Bills seem to be the favorite to land Maclin, after he visited the team on Tuesday, the Baltimore Ravens may still be an option. As a team who could use a star receiver to help boost their offense, adding Maclin or Decker is probably priority number one in Baltimore.
At 30-years-old, Decker still has a lot of play left in him. Despite undergoing hip and shoulder surgery last fall, the former Jet and Denver Bronco has been attending practice and looks like he’s ready to contribute once again.
The Jets may not have been too pleased with Decker’s productivity over the last three seasons, but even being the number two behind Brandon Marshall, he was able to accumulate 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2015.
Baltimore isn’t New York. First, they have a solid quarterback in Joe Flacco. Second, Decker would be placed in a shared number one role with Mike Wallace and would have better weapons around him than Robby Anderson and Quincy Enumwa.
In an offense that loves to pass, Decker would be utilized the way he deserves to in this league. No matter how much he loved playing in New York, his skill set was extremely undervalued in a franchise that has years of rebuild ahead of them.
With Baltimore’s small $3.6 million cap room, they may be pushing for Decker to hit free agency over trying for a trade. If he doesn’t end up on another team by Sunday, they could use his injuries in 2016 to sign him to a one-year, prove-it deal.
Maclin may not be willing to sign a small deal even though he’s also coming off just a 12 game, 536 yard season. So, even if he’s the more talented option, Decker may be the better choice within Baltimore’s cap space.
Pittsburgh should prepare for life against one of these two wideouts. If a move is made, they’ll have two teams with decently stocked receiving cores to deal with in 2017. Although their secondary is adding some needed talent, it’s still a concern to play teams with extra talent on the outside.
This isn’t a move that will lose Pittsburgh the AFC North, but Baltimore signing one of these two receivers should be on the team’s mind moving forward.