Late For Work 8/8: What Free Agent WR Is Up Next?

Plus Housh’s chances of returning, the reason Mason left and Ravens Madden ratings.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, August 8th, 2011 at 9:19 am | Categories: Late For Work, Ryan Mink

What Free Agent WR Is Up Next?

Cross Derrick Mason off the list.

Who’s up next?

That seems to be the game the media is playing with the Ravens at wide receiver.

Although Head Coach John Harbaugh has indicated not to leave rookies Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss out of the mix for the No. 2 wideout spot, he also said the team would be open to adding a good free agent.

The name getting tossed around perhaps the most now is former New York Jet Jerricho Cotchery.

Cotchery’s agent has talked to the Ravens, reports The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley, “but it doesn’t appear like the Ravens are aggressively pursuing him.

“A team source said Cotchery is interested in playing for the Ravens, describing the 29-year-old receiver as a good player and a great person,” Hensley wrote. “Asked if the Ravens were focusing on Cotchery, the source said, ‘We’ll see.’”

Cotchery, who underwent back surgery this offseason, was released by the New York Jets before they signed Mason. The eight-year veteran caught 41 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns last year, and had his best season in 2007 when he made 82 receptions for 1,130 yards and two scores.

Cotchery visited the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, but reportedly told them he had other visits planned. Four teams are interested in Cotchery, including Pittsburgh and Baltimore, says Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times.

Another name that’s bubbling out there is Lee Evans of the Buffalo Bills. Evans isn’t a free agent, but he’s part of a deep wideout corps that includes newly-acquired Brad Smith, Steve Johnson and Roscoe Parrish and could be traded.

“So don’t be surprised if the Bills part ways with Evans,” writes the National Football Post’s Dan Pompei. “The veteran had a down year in 2010 with only 37 catches, and he could have some trade value. Interesting parties have been sniffing around.”

Wilson said, “Yes, I think Lee Evans makes sense for Ravens. We’ll see if it develops.”

Wilson shot down some other possibilities:

Terrell Owens (torn ACL, past dealings with Baltimore) isn’t going to happen.”

Not going to be Randy Moss.”

I don’t think Chris Chambers is the answer.”

It also appears that New York Giants free agent Steve Smith may be staying put. He’s set to visit the team early this week to get his knee checked out after having microfracture surgery, reports the Newark Star-Ledger.

“Giants WR Steve Smith is talking as though he might go back to the Giants in the next week or two,” tweeted ESPN’s John Clayton.

So What About Housh?

I’ve been noticing so many fan questions about whether the Ravens would bring back wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh that I decided to make this its own section.

Wilson spoke with the veteran unrestricted free agent on Saturday, shortly after news broke that Mason was headed to New York, to gauge his interest in returning to Baltimore.

Houshmandzadeh, who caught 30 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns last season, doesn’t expect to be back.

I would love to come back to Baltimore, but it has to be mutual,” he said. “I didn’t have a good year and I dropped a ball that really mattered.”

Houshmandzadeh had a fourth-down, fourth-quarter pass in the Ravens’ divisional playoff game in Pittsburgh bounce off his chest, a play that he admitted still haunts him.

“Last year was a really bad year for me on the field,” Houshmandzadeh, 33, said. “I know people will say I can’t play no more. If I get to the right team, I’ll shock a lot of people.”

The veteran did say he and his agent have been talking to several teams, and Houshmandzadeh was confident he would be playing football again this year.

Why Did Mason Leave?

It seems nobody really knows the true reason why Derrick Mason chose New York.

During a press conference on Sunday, Mason said he went to New York because it presented the best chance at a Super Bowl.

“This is an opportunity I’m coming to [at] the end of my career,” Mason said. “I can still play a lot of good football but I wanted to try to take every opportunity to try to win the Super Bowl. And for me this was the best place to try to do that.”

However, a source close to Mason told MASN’s Dan Kolko that the decision came down to family.

Mason reportedly feels Ryan will give him more of an opportunity to visit his family, which resides in Nashville, during the season.

Hold on, could this have been about getting a larger role?

According to Kolko’s source, Mason also thinks he could play a bigger part in the Jets’ offense than in the Ravens’, although he’s slated to be the No. 3 wideout in New York and would have likely been the man to beat at No. 2 in Baltimore.

What about money? The Sun’s Hensley seems to think that was a factor.

According to a source close to Mason (the same one?) the Ravens offered the 37-year-old wideout a non-guaranteed contract while New York offered a one-year guaranteed deal worth $910,000. However, a team source told Hensley that the Ravens never offered Mason a contract.

Ravens Madden 12 Ratings

I know you video game players out there are itching to see how Madden 12 ranked the Ravens.

The team has an overall score of an 86, the second-highest in the AFC North behind the Steelers (90). Obviously, this write-up is a little old because it contains tight end Todd Heap, who is now with Arizona.

“Led by Ed Reed (98 overall), Ray Lewis (95 overall), and Haloti Ngata (97 overall), the Ravens have one of the hardest-hitting defenses in ‘Madden 12.’ Ray Rice and his 90 speed should be able to carry the offense, when you’re not throwing across the middle to Todd Heap, that is.”

Here’s the full breakdown of the Ravens players, via ESPN.com.

And here’s a few interesting tidbits I noticed:

  • Safety Ed Reed is the highest-rated Raven at a 98 overall
  • Linebacker Ray Lewis is still hanging strong at a 95 overall, including 99s in toughness and play recognition. Sounds about right.
  • Joe Flacco is an 88. C’mon. A 96 for throwing power is good, but a 71 for accuracy? Flacco had the 10th-best completion percentage (62.6) in the NFL last year.
  • Rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith is a 76. His 46 in awareness dragged his rating down. Rookie wideout Torrey Smith is a 69, boosted by a 92 in speed but hurt by a 50 in route running.
  • The Ravens’ highest-ranked offensive player is guard Ben Grubbs, who received a 95.
  • Punter Sam Koch (96 overall) received a strength of 50. That’s higher than cornerback Chris Carr. Cold.
  • Where’s the love for Billy Cundiff? After a Pro Bowl season he only gets an 88?

I wonder if the game got Tom Zbikowski’s skin color right this time. It’s set to ship out on Aug. 30.

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