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What’s Next for the Ravens WR Core?

From: Football.com

Hit hard by the death of longtime friend Steve McNair, Baltimore wideout Derrick Mason is bowing out of the game. While there is much paperwork and red tape still standing in his way, it looks as though the two-time Pro Bowl receiver will be at home come September.

Assuming that Mason does retire, the Ravens’ offense will be left with a nigh-unproven receiving corp for ’09. Second-year quarterback Joe Flacco, now devoid of a veteran target, will have to mature even further in the coming campaign.

Mason’s presence last season accounted for 1,037 yards and five touchdowns over 80 catches, nearly double the totals of second-leading man Mark Clayton (41 receptions, 695 yards, three touchdown catches). With tight end Todd Heap coming off a down year and perennial dual threat Willis McGahee recovering from arthroscopic ankle surgery, questions linger around the Raven’s passing attack.

There has been talk of bringing in an experienced wideout to take Mason’s place, but the free agent market is rather thin. General Manager Ozzie Newsome will have to consider taking a flier on players like Matt Jones, Amani Toomer, and Marvin Harrison.

The Ravens will have about $10 million left in cap space if Mason steps away, which may give them enough breathing room to offer a one-year deal. Or, they could try to swing a trade for one of the league’s disgruntled receivers, such as Denver’s Brandon Marshall or Arizona’s Anquan Boldin.

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