Mason's retirement vaults Clayton's value
And what of Flacco's fantasy value? Mason was still one of the league's most reliable possession receivers, a security blanket Flacco used to the tune of 121 targets, 80 receptions and 1,037 yards (for a relatively modest 12.9 yards per catch) in 2008. The Ravens have spoken this offseason about opening up their offense a bit to take advantage of Flacco's big arm and presumably more advanced knowledge of the pro game, but that's a bit harder to envision now. In truth, both Clayton and Williams are better cast as outside threats who might not always be in the perfect place but who can occasionally make a huge play. It's possible that a smaller guy such as Yamon Figurs could see more time out of the slot as a possession guy, that new tight end L.J. Smith now becomes a more important target, or that Marcus Smith, an '08 fourth-rounder Baltimore likes a lot, could pick up some slack. But certainly this news doesn't help Flacco's fantasy value in a system where the rushing triumvirate of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain was already expected to get a big amount of the workload.
The final question worth asking here is whether the Ravens' hands are completely tied, or whether they still might be able to acquire a new No. 1 receiving target. Brandon Marshall is disgruntled in Denver, Anquan Boldin hates his contract in Arizona and, of course, there's Plaxico Burress, who is still in legal limbo. Maybe GM Ozzie Newsome decides it's time to take care of what has been a pretty shaky receiver situation for several years, and makes one of those teams and/or players an offer they can't refuse. If that winds up happening, and the Ravens essentially "trade" Mason for someone such as Marshall or Boldin, it would probably mean a pretty severe Flacco upgrade. Stay tuned.