Monday, July 27, 2009

It just got worse...

I am guessing you are as shocked as I am by Drew Bennett's sudden decision to retire, just days after signing a 1-year deal with the Ravens.

After his workout with the Ravens, Bennett's knee started to swell from a previous injury and Bennett decided to call it quits. Who can blame him, he's been battling injuries for the better part of the last 3 seasons. But that still leaves the Ravens essentially empty-handed at the WR position as they head into training camp tomorrow.

The Ravens will probably call DJ Hackett, who they've worked out twice already. And I have to wonder if Hackett would even consider signing with the Ravens after they insulted his ego by going with Kelley Washington and Bennett instead of him the first two times. But, if Hackett wants a job, he'll have to swallow his pride.

I am starting to wonder why the Ravens haven't contacted former-Jaguars WR Matt Jones. Jones was caught with cocaine a few seasons back, and served a suspension, but of all the troubled WR's available, Jones' crime was at least against himself. And it appears those drug problems are behind him.

Jones is still young (26) and has already turned in some solid seasons for the Jaguars, who let's face it, have never been a great passing offense since Mark Brunell left town. Jones is tall (6 foot 6) and was a QB in college. He would bring another dynamic aspect to the Ravens offense along with Troy Smith. If the Ravens are forced to sign a troubled WR, Jones is the lesser of all the evils.

Meanwhile, the Ravens should float the idea of considering signing Plaxico Burress to the media to see what the public's reaction would be. It might also nudge NFL commissioner Roger Godell to make a decision as to whether Burress will be suspended for his actions last November, when he shot himself in the leg with a concealed handgun at a New York night club. If there is a huge outcry over signing Burress, move on. The Ravens have nothing to lose.

Losing Bennett is tough, mostly because it seems like nothing has been going the Ravens' way this offseason, especially at the WR position. Bennett was unlikely to be a major weapon in this offseason, but his experience would have helped second-year QB Joe Flacco, who grew comfortable with Derrick Mason catching his passes.

Who knows, maybe Mason will come back to cap off a crazy offseason. Maybe not. Maybe Flacco got comfortable to throwing to Mark Clayton last season and they will continue their success in 2009. But I really can't see the Ravens going into game #1 with the current WR corps they have now.

I don't believe the small, but fast Clayton fits the bill of a #1 WR. And since he's had success as a #2, I would have to believe the Ravens want to keep him there. Demtrius Williams, at 6 foot 1, is more of the #1 WR mold. But Williams can't stay healthy and hasn't been more than a #3 WR in the past. Can he stay healthy, and make the jump to a go-to WR?

I don't know who else is out there that will make the Ravens a better team. Bennett's retiring may force the Ravens' hand to trade for Brandon Marshall. But he's got legal and character issues of his own. Plus, on top of the picks you'd have to give up to get him, you'd have to sign him to a huge new contract. And after the Ravens locked up Terrell Suggs for 6 years last week, the Ravens aren't in the position to be doling out another big contract.

So look for the Ravens to sign a WR to a Drew Bennett-like contract of a 1-year deal. I expect it will be Hackett after all. Just don't be surprised when the Ravens get what they paid for. Hopefully it won't come at the expense of the fans, who after the Ravens made the AFC Championship game last season, expect a trip to the Super Bowl this year.

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