Mason leaves huge void for Ravens

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

During the Baltimore Ravens' run to the AFC Championship Game last season, veteran receiver Derrick Mason developed into one of the team's most indispensible players.

Now, the Ravens have a huge void that needs to be filled just weeks before training camp after Mason announced his retirement before the 2009 season. Here is the full report from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton.

So what's next for the Ravens? They have major work to do in very little time.

Giving a call to veteran Marvin Harrison, who is the best free-agent receiver available, could be a good first step. In the past, signing Harrison didn't make sense for Baltimore because his skills as a possession receiver are very similar to Mason's. But with Mason gone, Harrison, if healthy, has the ability to fill that void.

The Ravens will save $3 million off their cap with Mason's retirement, making a strong play for Harrison a possibility. Baltimore also has been mentioned in several trade scenarios involving disgruntled receivers such as Brandon Marshall and Anquan Boldin in the past, but nothing ever came to fruition.

Keep in mind that Baltimore is in the process of working out a long-term deal with Pro Bowl defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs, which is a huge priority. Suggs currently is playing on the franchise tag and the deadline to remove it is Wednesday.

But after a decision on Suggs is final, Baltimore needs to put all of its efforts into patching up the major void Mason leaves behind. The Ravens were one game away from the Super Bowl last season and have very high expectations, and fielding a starting receiving duo of Mark Clayton and possibly Demetrius Williams simply won't cut it.