Putting Breshad Perriman on IR further clouds Ravens' 2016 WR situation

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Placing first-round pick Breshad Perriman on injured reserve Tuesday just adds another question mark to the Baltimore Ravens' uncertain wide receiver situation for 2016.

The Ravens were hoping Perriman would play the final four games this season, which would give him some much-needed playing time and give the team some insight on what kind of impact it could expect from him going forward. Now, Baltimore doesn't know much more about Perriman than it did April 30, when the team used the No. 26 overall pick on him.

Is Perriman going to be an immediate starter and playmaker like Amari Cooper? Or will he need time to develop as a backup like DeVante Parker?

The Ravens hope Perriman's speed will be the perfect compliment to Joe Flacco's strong arm. Still, his inconsistent hands and unpolished route-running could make him a project in his first season of playing.

Ravens officials don't have the luxury to guess or cross their fingers, because it's unknown whether Steve Smith is coming back. Smith, Baltimore's leading receiver the past two seasons, has yet to address whether he's delaying retirement for a year after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury at midseason.

The Ravens horribly assessed their wide receiver position this offseason, and they can't afford to do it again next season. It would not make any sense to give Flacco a lucrative reworked deal and surround him with a thin group of receivers again.

Baltimore has to take the blame for its current situation of starting Kamar Aiken and Chris Givens, both of whom would probably not be starting for another team in the league. The lack of playmakers is the result of a misjudgment by general manager Ozzie Newsome and the other Ravens' decision-makers.

The Ravens placed too much faith in a rookie receiver and a 36-year-old one. Instead of signing a free agent like Michael Crabtree, Baltimore banked on a career journeyman in Aiken, who is too inconsistent in catching the ball, and third-year undrafted player Marlon Brown, who is now at the bottom of the depth chart because he can't get separation.

If the Ravens want to get back to being a playoff contender next season, they need to look at the AFC teams that are in competition with them. The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals have multiple weapons who can get open, stretch the field and break tackles.

The Ravens know they will get Perriman back for next season, but they can only project what kind of impact he will make. Baltimore has plenty of work to do this offseason to play catch-up with the rest of the contenders at the wide receiver position.