Ravens mailbag: Projections for Breshad Perriman

It's that time again to click open our Baltimore Ravens' weekend mailbag ...

@jamisonhensley: Steve Smith. This is more speculation than a legitimate projection on my part. It's hard to say when Joe Flacco has never thrown a pass to Breshad Perriman. The safe bet is Smith, because he has an established rapport with Flacco. That connection was apparent in the first offseason workouts. Plus, Flacco's history is he favors the veteran reliable targets more than the flashy deep threats. Outside of 2013, Flacco's leading receivers (catches and yards) have been Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Smith. Perriman certainly has the tools to develop into a No. 1 receiver, and there is certainly a chance he will put up some solid receiving yards totals. My guess is the Ravens would be happy if Perriman ended up with 800 yards receiving. Only five rookie receivers exceeded that total last season.

@jamisonhensley: As long as he avoids major struggles, the Ravens will likely start Perriman in the opener. It's not like he's competing against an established group of veterans. He has to beat out Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken. I wouldn't guarantee him winning the job though. Four years ago, Torrey Smith had so much trouble adjusting that the Ravens traded for Lee Evans. It wasn't until Evans got hurt that Smith got his first start in Week 3. Perriman isn't a polished route-runner, but he has something that none of the other receivers on this team have -- speed. Just that threat alone should get him on the field in Denver.

@jamisonhensley: I'm not writing off Dennis Pitta right now, and I don't believe the Ravens have either. But you can't be optimistic about Pitta returning and holding up for an entire season. The last time he played more than four games in a season was 2012. Pitta was running last week as part of the Ravens' offseason workout program, which is an encouraging sign. The Ravens had to cover themselves in case Pitta can't play. Baltimore is now set with Crockett Gillmore and two rookie draft picks (Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle). What I like is all three are different types of tight ends. The biggest cause for concern is their youth. There will be times when these tight ends make mistakes. But the Ravens did the best they could considering their cap situation and what was available in free agency.

@jamisonhensley: Pitta isn't retiring this year. His $4 million salary in 2015 is guaranteed. That's like you or me handing back a winning lottery ticket. The decision with Pitta comes next offseason. The Ravens can free up $5 million in 2016 if they designate him as a June 1 cut, or they can save $600,000 in cap space by just releasing him outright.

@jamisonhensley: Not sure you're going to like the other options either. If Asa Jackson doesn't win the nickelback job, the Ravens will have to turn to Rashaan Melvin, rookie Tray Walker, Tremain Jacobs or Anthony Levine. This is the consequence of not having a targeted cornerback fall to the Ravens in the first three rounds. The outlook at cornerback would be much different if Kevin Johnson or Marcus Peters had slipped to Baltimore. The top cornerbacks left in a picked-over free-agent market are Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers. So, there's no quick fix.