The Baltimore Ravens are making life difficult for the Pittsburgh Steelers with some late offseason moves.
One of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ AFC North rivals have made some moves on the offensive side of the ball this offseason as the Baltimore Ravens signed receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back Danny Woodhead to deals, and are currently working luring veteran receiver Eric Decker to Maryland as well. After losing Steve Smith Sr. to retirement following the 2016 campaign as well as the release of tight end Dennis Pitta following his latest hip injury, the Ravens needed to bolster their offense after a disappointing season and it looks like that they have accomplished that.
Maclin brings production and stability to a receiving corps that needs it, as the 29-year old put up huge numbers in Kansas City when healthy with 80+ receptions and 1,000+ yards in 2014 and 2015, his most recent full seasons. Per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, he has the potential to emerge as the team’s No. 1 receiver due to the inconsistent play of both Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace. Maclin’s injury history puts Baltimore in a tough spot (torn ACL in 2013, groin injury in 2016), but his presence makes the Ravens a better team.
The Woodhead acquisition hit a lot of the same notes as the Maclin deal, with the running back being lost for the 2016 season with a right ACL tear as a member of the San Diego Chargers and is an immediate upgrade for the passing game. The 32-year old may not get a lot of touches between the tackles, but his abilities as a receiver out of the backfield are well documented and complements the talents of Lorenzo Taliaferro and Terrance West rather well.
If Baltimore also manages to snag Decker, we could be looking at one of the more potent offenses in the entire NFL in 2017. He had 1,027 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns in his last full season for the New York Jets in 2015, and he may be the big-bodied answer for the loss of Pitta as he stands at 6’3″ and 214 lbs.
As far as the Steelers are concerned, these developments in Maryland could make the battle for the AFC North crown one of the hottest in football in 2017 between the Ravens, the steady Cincinnati Bengals, and the rising Cleveland Browns.
The balance in the running back room as well as the playmakers outside for Baltimore, not to mention the combination of elder statesman Ben Watson and Maxx Williams at tight end, as well as the seemingly always strong defense (and let’s not forget Joe Flacco’s eliteness), will make the birds of Maryland a tough out in both meetings.