The Ravens are expected to sign former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown to a one-year deal when free agency begins March 14, their first move in what was expected to be an overhaul of their wide receiver corps.
Pending free agents are free to negotiate with teams as of March 12, but no contracts can be signed until 4 p.m. March 14.
Brown, who turns 28 in April, was a third-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2014 out of Pittsburg (KS) State. He was slowed by injuries last year and finished with 21 catches for 299 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games. In 2015, he had 65 catches for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns, all career highs.
At the 2014 Scouting Combine, Brown (5-foot-11, 179 pounds) had the third-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.34).
The deal for Brown sets in motion some offseason activity at a position that general manager Ozzie Newsome vowed to overhaul this offseason.
Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro are set to become free agents, and Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman are coming off underwhelming seasons. Maclin has been rumored to be a salary cap casualty but was not among three players let go by the Ravens earlier this week (
Danny Woodhead and Austin Howard
Speaking at the Combine earlier this month about the Ravens' wide receiver situation, Newsome said, "We're looking for the opportunity to change that room in terms of personnel."
The Ravens are coming off a season in which they ranked 29th in passing and last in passing yards per play.
Given Newsome's stated desire to overhaul the position, the Ravens were linked as a possible trade partner with the Miami Dolphins for receiver Jarvis Landry, but he was ultimately dealt to the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens were also thought to be negotiating with pending free-agent Allen Robinson, but he is expected to sign with the Chicago Bears.
Sammy Watkins, another top-end free agent receiver, is expected to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.
All three of those players are reported to be getting deals at better than $14 million per year, which might have been beyond the budget of the cash-strapped Ravens.
The Ravens are expected to address the wide receiver position in the draft as well. It's considered a deep draft at wide receiver, with no elite receivers but value through the first few rounds.