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Ravens' Mason has been consistently productive

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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening

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Posted March 03, 2010 @ 12:31 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

This is the 14th in a series of scouting reports on 15 key players who are slated to become free agents — restricted or unrestricted — March 5, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.

News: Ravens WR Derrick Mason is considering playing in 2010, but he told the club's Web site in February that he would like a multiyear contract if he takes the field next season. The Ravens are amenable to such an agreement with the 13-year receiver, head coach John Harbaugh said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We're interested in Derrick for more than one year," Harbaugh said. "No doubt, he can still play. He's 36 years old, but he's not physically. As long as he can play, we want him to be a Raven. We're pretty confident that we'll be able to get something done. I know (general manager) Ozzie [Newsome] is working on that right now."

Notes: Mason has been one of the NFL's most consistently productive receivers since becoming a starting wideout in 2000. Mason, who began his career in Tennessee, has racked up more than 1,000 yards receiving in eight of the last nine seasons, including four of his five campaigns with the Ravens. Mason has made two Pro Bowls (2000, 2003), with his first appearance as a kick returner — a role in which he excelled early in his career — and his second appearance as a wide receiver. Mason retired briefly last summer but quickly changed his mind. He caught 73 passes for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009.

Strengths: Mason is in marvelous physical condition; he's still quick enough to beat defenders after all of these years, and he can still get deep on occasion. He's durable dependable and tough — he hasn't missed a game in the last seven seasons, and he played through a painful shoulder injury for the majority of the '08 campaign. Also, he is an outstanding technician adept at making every route look the same, something that can vex his opposition. With 13 seasons to his credit, Mason knows all of the tricks of his trade. 

Weaknesses: Even if Mason is a young 36 — and certainly, his play would suggest he's no normal receiver — he is still fighting a losing battle against time. He does not have great vertical speed and can be slowed by top competition. For instance, he caught just three passes in two games against Cincinnati's highly regarded secondary last season.

Risk factor: Low-to-moderate. Giving Mason a two-year deal seems reasonable, even if there is a risk that his play could begin to tail off soon simply because of his age. He still ranks among the league's better starting receivers, and he could help more than a few passing games around the league. He fits best in Baltimore, where he could again be the club's top target short of the Ravens making a major splash in free agency or in the trade market.

Thursday: Titans DE Kyle Vanden Bosch

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