OWINGS MILLS, Md. — At the end of last season, Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome stressed the need to find “a complementary receiver.”
Maclin is 29, familiar with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s system and brings a consistent level of production that is unmatched by any other target on the roster.
This isn’t to say Maclin will put up numbers like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones or A.J. Green. His track record suggests he’ll take the lead role in a group topped by Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman and become the go-to target that Steve Smith Sr. had become.
In Maclin’s seven NFL seasons, he has averaged 67 catches, 913 yards receiving and six touchdown catches. Since 2010, there’s been only one Ravens player (Smith in 2014) to reach all those marks in a single season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The Ravens’ other top two receivers didn’t offer the same dependability as Maclin, who has eclipsed 80 catches and 1,000 yards receiving in his past two full seasons (2014-15).
In 2016 Wallace produced his first 1,000-yard season in five seasons, but he tailed off in the second half of his first season in Baltimore. Over the final eight games, Wallace’s receptions (33), receiving yards (403), yards per catch (12.2) and touchdowns (none) all declined.
Perriman has been the biggest standout in offseason practices, whether it’s catching a deep pass or taking a short pass over the middle and running away from defenders. Still, Perriman has never totaled more than four catches or 65 yards receiving in any game.
Maclin is exactly the type of proven receiver the Ravens needed. Baltimore lost a total of 156 receptions, 1,528 yards receiving and seven touchdowns with Smith retiring at the end of last season and tight end Dennis Pitta getting released after reinjuring his hip earlier this month.
There is some risk with Maclin, which is why the Chiefs didn’t want to pay him $10 million this season. He tore his right ACL in 2013, which sidelined him the entire year, and he missed four games last season with a groin injury.
When Maclin is on the field, he brings reliability with his hands and route running. In 2015, his last fully healthy season, he dropped just one of 87 catchable passes that season, according to Pro Football Focus. That was the lowest drop rate (1.14 percent) among all receivers that year.
The Ravens have a strong history in finding their top wide receiver in free agency, from Derrick Mason to Anquan Boldin to Smith. But all of those veterans were well into their 30s when they arrived in Baltimore.
Maclin won’t be 30 until next May. He’s also ahead of his predecessors’ curve: Mornhinweg was Maclin’s offensive coordinator for his first four seasons in the NFL with the Eagles, when he averaged 64.5 catches and scored a total of 26 touchdowns.
The Ravens still have other needs to address on offense, especially along the offensive line, but they added a piece Monday they’ve been searching for since last season ended.