Although the Baltimore Ravens have focused heavily on defensive improvements this offseason, their wide receiver depth seems better than ever. There are several veterans who should have no worries of getting cut, but wide receiver Deonte Thompson is not one of them.
The veteran receiver played in seven games last season, catching just 10 passes for 96 yards. He’s only played 13 games in his career and unfortunately hasn’t met expectations. The Ravens also need a bit more strength in deep passes, which isn’t Thompson’s specialty.
Competition is high for the wide receivers, especially with the addition of Steve Smith from Carolina. Smith had planned to retire this year, but agreed to a 3-year $11 million deal with the Ravens to cap off his NFL career. According to spotrac.com, Thompson is on his last year of a 3-year contract worth $1.4 million. Officials will have to decide if he is worth keeping another year and if he is valuable enough to hold onto.
Another threat to Thompson’s position on the squad is sophomore Marlon Brown, who is essentially a lock to the team after his highly successful rookie season. Brown tied Torrey Smith’s record for rookie touchdown receptions with seven, and totaled 49 passes for 524 yards. With some footwork improvement and enhanced speed, Brown is almost guaranteed a roster spot.
Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith are two more veterans who should be locked on the roster. Smith is always a go-to receiver for Joe Flacco and Jones makes some powerful plays, especially on the return. This is also the last year for Smith’s 4-year contract worth $3.39 million, but I don’t see the Ravens letting him go any time soon. Jones’ 4-year $12 million deal isn’t up until 2018, so he is still valuable to the team.
Now there are three more possibilities that might be competing for one spot on the roster: undrafted rookie Jeremy Butler and two seventh-round picks from the last two drafts, Aaron Mellette and Michael Campanaro. Butler has unexpectedly stood out at minicamp and the first two OTAs. He caught 90 passes for 1,203 yards and 10 touchdowns during his senior year at Tennessee-Martin, so he is certainly used to standing out. If he continues to impress this summer, he could possibly develop into the fifth receiver.
If Butler doesn’t pull through, the Ravens have their two draft picks. Mellette excelled in the four preseason games, catching nine passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He was later placed on injured reserve for his knee, but now he’s out to battle for the valued spot.
“My competitive nature, I don’t think it comes second to anybody,” Mellette said in a recent interview. “That’s going to drive me to be the best.” He is showing no limitations on the field and is aggressively fighting for that spot on the roster.
Campanaro is another rookie Thompson could lose the spot to this season. This Wake Forest star caught a school-record 229 passes and finished his college career with a total of 2,506 yards and 14 touchdowns. Despite being sidelined early for a pulled hamstring, Campanaro is back on the field this week and ready to prove his ability. He will definitely be one to watch the rest of this summer.
Needless to say, Thompson has a long road ahead. If he wants to keep his spot on the roster, he will have to prove his strength and show that he has what it takes. Even though he is one of the fastest players on the team, the Ravens typically have five to seven receivers on the roster and competition is off the charts this year.