COMMENTARY | One.
That's the amount of catches receivers Deonte Thompson, Tandon Doss and Jacoby Jones combined for in their first attempt at replacing Anquan Boldin's production.
That won't get it done, especially with tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson sidelined. Accordingly, the Ravens brought in Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark to add competition and a veteran presence to the mix.
Both will bring different things to the table, so here are in-depth looks at both moves. They may reek of desperation, but both moves have a chance to pay major dividends.
The details of Stokley's contract are not known, but we know it's for one year and probably for minimal money. To put it simply, there is no risk in this deal.
What this deal does provide is a sure-handed, reliable target that will excel at picking up the tough third downs that both Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin excelled at last year. Stokley was perhaps the most efficient receiver in the NFL last year, catching an eye-popping 78.9% of the balls thrown his way last year.
Of course, part of that is because he had the great Peyton Manning throwing to him, but Stokley is just that sort of receiver. He has a knack for getting open thanks to surprising shiftiness and excellent instincts, and his soft hands allow him to capitalize on the cushion he creates.
Stokley won't be a high-volume target for the Ravens, since he will be mostly restricted to shorter and intermediate routes. He does, however, have a very good chance of defining a niche for himself on comebacks, slants and a variety of other short patterns, especially on third downs.
The Ravens didn't have a receiver on the roster who works the short area of the field as well as Stokley. Now they do, and they have added a veteran to help lead this young receiving corps to boot.
Both Flacco and the young receivers should benefit greatly from Stokley's presence. Even if his production isn't massive, Stokley will still improve this team significantly.
As little as we know about Stokley's contract, we know even less about Clark's. As of this writing, there is no information on the length or size of the contract, though a one-year deal would be the safest assumption.
This signing raises one big question: Why did Clark come after Visanthe Shiancoe? Sure, Clark wasn't a prime-time performer last year, but he did carve himself a nice role in the Tampa Bay offense. Shiancoe, meanwhile, hadn't caught a pass since 2011 and has really fallen off since a solid run in 2008 and 2009.
On its own merits, though, this deal is at least a minor plus for the Ravens. Clark is a very similar to Pitta, albeit older and probably not as spry. Like Pitta, Clark should not be asked to block, but he is a reliable target with good hands and a knack for getting open in tight quarters.
The only knock on Clark at this point his career is his injury history. The tight end hasn't really been the same since a wrist injury ended his 2010 season prematurely, though his hands remains strong.
Where Stokley has a clear role in the offense, Clark's niche is less clear. Presumably, Clark, Shiancoe and Ed Dickson would be the three tight ends to make the final roster, though rookie Matt Furstenburg and veteran Billy Bajema won't go down without a fight.
Clark and Dickson could form a duo similar to the one that Dickson formed with Pitta, but that leaves Shiancoe as the third tight end. If that's the case, why add him before Clark?
Make no mistake, Clark can still play. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding this addition, but as long as it's a one-year deal, there is no risk. Best-case scenario, the Ravens have found another strong, reliable third-down target. Another security blanket for Flacco is never a bad idea.
Shawn Brubaker is a graduate of the Catholic University of America. He was a Baltimore Ravens featured columnist for Bleacher Report for two years and is currently a co-host of Ravens Central Radio.
- Sports & Recreation
- Brandon Stokley
- Dallas Clark
- Dennis Pitta
- the Ravens
- Anquan Boldin