Ravens release Michael Crabtree one year after signing veteran to three-year deal

Michael Crabtree won't make it to Year 2 of his three-year contract with the Ravens. As first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Ravens informed the veteran wide receiver on Monday that they will release him in a move that will save them more than $4.5 million in cap space. The Ravens have since made Crabtree's release official.

Crabtree, 31, will be a free agent for a second straight offseason. A year ago, Crabtree was cut by the Raiders after a mostly disappointing 58-catch, 618-yard, eight-touchdown season. He quickly landed in Baltimore on a three-year deal that included $8 million in fully guaranteed money, per Over The Cap. 

At the time, it seemed like a solid signing for the receiver-needy Ravens. Even after his lackluster 2017 season, Crabtree was averaging 763.3 receiving yards and nearly six touchdowns per season. 

But he failed to catch on with the Ravens, posting a statistically similar season to 2017 -- minus the touchdowns. In his defense, once Lamar Jackson took over as quarterback in Week 11, the Ravens' passing game, as a whole, plummeted as they adopted a run-heavy approach. With Jackson as the starter, Crabtree averaged 19.3 receiving yards per game. With Flacco as the starter, Crabtree averaged 52.4 receiving yards per game. He finished with 54 receptions, 607 yards, and three touchdowns.

Given his age and recent output, Crabtree shouldn't be expected to command a lucrative deal in free agency. However, given the typically solid, but not great nature of the wide receiver free agency market, he will get signed by someone -- like, say, the Cowboys, who didn't pick up Terrance Williams' optioncould lose Cole Beasley in free agency, and already employ Crabtree's former teammate, Amari Cooper. It's just an idea.

For the Ravens, not much changes. Even if they'd kept Crabtree around for another season, they still would've needed to upgrade at receiver to provide Jackson with the help he needs as he looks to make the leap from an electrifying runner, but inconsistent passer to an electrifying runner and consistent passer. It seems unlikely the Steelers would be willing to trade Antonio Brown to their rivals in the AFC North. With that in mind, the Ravens might need to target a receiver or two in the draft.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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