For those who continue to criticize Joe Flacco, you have to consider how much the Baltimore Ravens are investing in his targets. And lately, the Ravens haven't addressed the wide receiver position as much as other areas on the team.
The Ravens have signed three moderately priced free-agent wide receivers (Steve Smith Sr., Jacoby Jones and Brandon Stokley) over the last three offseasons, and they haven't drafted a wide receiver higher than the sixth round in the last three drafts.
As a result, wide receivers account for $7.036 million of the Ravens' 2015 salary cap, which ranks 26th out of 32 teams. Smith's cap number is $4.166 million, and no other receiver on the team has one higher than $660,000.
There are 14 wide receivers who individually have a higher cap number than the entire Ravens' wide receiver group, including Calvin Johnson ($20.558 million), Demaryius Thomas ($12.823 million) and Dez Bryant ($12.823 million).
This has been a trend for the Ravens. In 2012, the Ravens ranked 12th in the NFL in allocating $11.469 million to wide receivers. In the three years since, the Ravens have ranked 22nd (2013), 24th (2014) and 26th (2015).
Spending on receivers doesn't guarantee an electric passing attack. The three teams who've devoted the most cap room to receivers last year -- Miami, Houston and Washington -- didn't crack the top 10 in passing. But four of the NFL's top five passing teams last year -- Indianapolis, New Orleans, Denver and Atlanta -- all ranked in the top half of the league in most cap space allocated to wide receivers. So, you don't have to spend the most cap room on receivers but you can't ignore the position either.
This isn't insinuating that the Ravens are being cheap. In fact, the Ravens spend more than most teams, which is why they don't have much cap space to sign high-priced free agents this year. But, based on how the cap is spread out on the team, the Ravens have placed a lower priority on wide receivers.
The Ravens rank in the top 10 in most cap space for cornerbacks (fifth), offensive line (seventh) and linebackers (eighth). In comparison, Flacco's $14.55 million cap hit is only 15th among quarterbacks, so he's not limiting what the Ravens can do in free agency.
At this point, Flacco is throwing to Smith and a bunch of low-priced targets: Aldrick Robinson ($660,000 cap hit), Marlon Brown ($586,000), Kamar Aiken ($585,000), Michael Campanaro ($526,000) and Jeremy Butler ($511,000). Smith is the only receiver who caught more than 25 passes last season, and he's the only receiver to rank among the top 30 players on the team in terms of cap hits.
A week into free agency, the Ravens can still spend money on a wide receiver. Dwayne Bowe, Michael Crabtree and Greg Jennings remain available. The Ravens are also expected to draft a wide receiver in the first three rounds of this year's draft. Arizona State's Jaelen Strong, Ohio State's Devin Smith, Miami's Phillip Dorsett and Central Florida's Breshad Perriman could all warrant consideration for the Ravens at the No. 26 overall pick.
Two years ago, the Ravens traded Anquan Boldin and regretfully didn't replace him in free agency or the draft. After watching Torrey Smith sign a rich deal in San Francisco, the Ravens can't afford to repeat the same mistake.