Let the wide receiver search begin - again

Another offseason, another offseason looking for receivers.

Anyone else feel like we've been down this road before?

With T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte' Stallworth set to become free agents, the Ravens will again need to scour the free agent market and this year's draft class to try and find some wide receiving talent that they can add around Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

It was clear this season that the Ravens lacked a tall, speedy receiver that could stretch the field and go win a jump-ball.

We thought Stallworth could provide the speed, but he was used sparingly. Two catches on the year? Really?

We thought Boldin could provide the red zone presence, but he disappeared for much of the second half of the season, catching only three touchdown passes in the Ravens' final 11 games (including the postseason).

I don't mean to completely bash the receiving corps. Overall, Boldin had a solid season, Mason was his usual consistent self - and still runs the prettiest deep comeback route in the NFL - and Houshmandzadeh chipped in with a few big plays and some impressive trash talk. And that's always a plus.

But the Ravens need to find a playmaking receiver who can add a new dynamic to this group, and it would be an added plus if that guy was young and could grow alongside Joe Flacco

The average age of the Ravens' top four wide receivers last year was 32. That's not to say that you can't win with a veteran group of wideouts, but getting that number down in 2011 should be a goal.

When you watch the Steelers - just to pick a team - getting huge plays this season from second-year wideout Mike Wallace (1,257 yards, 10 TDs), and rookies Emmanuel Sanders (376 yards, 2 TDs) and Antonio Brown (167 yards and four big postseason receptions for 89 yards), that point is only magnified.

There are a handful of receivers in this year's draft class that fit the mold of a big, speedy target that should be available in the late-first to second round. Maryland's Torrey Smith, Miami's Leonard Hankerson and Boise State's Austin Pettis are just a few.

I'm not saying the Ravens should reach for a wide receiver in the draft if they don't feel he provides the best value at that time. They might find someone available in free agency who fits the mold, or could opt to re-sign Houshmandzadeh and hope they have more success in Year Two with this group. (I don't see that happening, however. T.J. will search for a bigger role somewhere.)

The Ravens will return a couple of building blocks out wide in 2011 in Boldin and Mason and will have David Reed and Marcus Smith on the roster next season as well. But they're still lacking a piece or two in that rotation.

Which puts GM Ozzie Newsome right back where he seems to be every offseason - on the hunt for wide receivers.

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