The Baltimore Ravens agreed to terms with wide receiver Seth Roberts on a one-year deal, shoring up a position group that is dangerously thin leading into this month's NFL Draft.
The signing is pending a physical.
Originally undrafted out of West Alabama, Roberts (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) spent one year on the Raiders' practice squad before making the 53-man roster in 2015. He played in 15 games this past season and set career highs with 45 catches for 494 yards. During four seasons with the Raiders, Roberts has averaged about 40 catches and 457 receiving yards per year, with a total of 13 touchdowns.
In four games against the Ravens, Roberts totaled eight catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Roberts, 28, was released by the Oakland Raiders April 4 after they overhauled their receiver corps this offseason with the additions of Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and Ryan Grant.
At the Ravens predraft news conference last week, general manager Eric DeCosta said he didn't anticipate many roster moves before the draft but added, "We’re not done yet building the football team, and it’s a long process, and we have until September before we have to play. ... We’ll be aggressive, we’ll be flexible, and we’ll build the best team we can.”
The fact that Roberts was released by the Raiders means he will not factor into the equation for compensatory picks, which surely factored in the Ravens decision to sign him.
Another factor was the Ravens' glaring lack of depth at the receiver position. With Michael Crabtree released and John Brown signed by the Buffalo Bills as a free agent, the Ravens have just two wide receivers on the team who have made any catches in an NFL regular-season game: Willie Snead and Chris Moore.
The Ravens drafted two rookie receivers last year in fourth-rounder Jaleel Scott and fifth-rounder Jordan Lasley, but neither played a snap. Scott spent the year on injured reserve and Lasley was a game day inactive in all 16 games.
The Ravens are rebuilding their offense this offseason around second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, with the running game expected to be its central component. The production of all the receivers dropped sharply last season when Jackson replaced Joe Flacco as the starting quarterback, and head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged recently that luring free-agent receivers to Baltimore could be a tough sell.
But, as he spoke at the owners meetings in Arizona, Harbaugh said "Because of the offense we're going to run and the skills of the quarterback that we have, [receivers] are going to get open. You're going to be more wide open. And if you're the kind of guy that wants to catch a ball and go run for a touchdown ... then maybe Baltimore is a place that you want to think about. Because you're going to have an opportunity to do that."
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