Baltimore Ravens make moves to address offensive concerns

Marc Serota

The Super Bowl champs lost plenty of pieces in the offseason but now are making moves to improve.

The Baltimore Ravens are just months removed from their recent Super Bowl win, yet many sportswriters and fans are picking them to miss the playoffs this season given all the departures they've endured.

On Sunday, the Ravens took measures to bolster the roster with the signing of two veterans in tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Brandon Stokley, according to the team's official site. Stokley signed a one-year deal and while the terms of Clark's deal have not been released, it's almost certain he received the same.

Head coach John Harbaugh is happy, although not promising anything to the two accomplished vets.

"They’re both really accomplished players. We’re excited to have them," Harbaugh said. "By no means though is anything guaranteed, and they understand that. They want an opportunity to compete for a job. They’ll be in competition for a job with our guys that are here, and we’ll see how that plays out. That’s how we like it."

Stokley, who began his career in Baltimore back in 1999 and won a Super Bowl there in 2000, will try to give Joe Flacco a security blanket. The 37-year-old was productive last season for the Denver Broncos, hauling in 45 passes for 544 yards and five touchdowns.

Clark played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 after putting in nine campaigns on the Indianapolis Colts. One of the most prolific tight ends in NFL history, Clark was still decent with Tampa, catching 47 balls for 435 yards and four scores.

These moves help cope with the losses of Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin. Pitta went down with a season-ending hip injury and Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for minor draft assets after Baltimore wasn't going to keep his $6 million contract hit. Neither Stokley or Clark are anywhere near their primes, but if they can replicate their 2012 numbers, it would be a huge help.

Currently, the Ravens are starting Ed Dickson at tight end but don't have anybody solid backing him up. With Clark, 34, the team could run two-tight end sets, something Harbaugh enjoys doing. Few players understand how to get themselves open between the hashmarks like Clark, who has 5,322 career receiving yards.

As for Stokley, he's not going to come close to being the threat Boldin was. However, if he can force defenses to respect his presence, it makes life much easier on Flacco along with Torrey Smith. With Smith being one of the best deep threats in the league, he'll take the safeties down the field and open up the slot for Stokley to work. Conversely, if Stokley starts catching some passes underneath, the defense will need to cheat down, opening up the deep routes for Smith.

If nothing else, the moves give the Ravens some veteran performers to consider as they decide on the final make-up of their roster. It's a good move from a respected GM to strike quickly before other NFL teams can assess their rosters in week two.

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