Previewing the free agent receivers
Posted Feb. 09 at 10:54 AM
The 2011 season is in the books, and the next actual NFL action will be the Hall of Fame game in Canton in early August. With that in mind, I will turn my attention to next year, looking at some of the wide receivers who could become free agents.
Below is a rough draft rundown of the top 20 free agent wide receivers. I’ve put the players in the approximate order I think they’ll be drafted in fantasy leagues this August.
Restricted free agent. Will be back in Pittsburgh.
He’s a talented guy, but I don’t think he’ll be back in San Diego. He’s had some off-field issues, which will scare them away from committing big money to him. And they’ve got other, more pressing areas to spend their money. They’re actually fine at wide receiver. They’ve got Malcom Floyd, who’s got some Jackson-type ability in him, and Vincent Brown was very good in a couple of games as a rookie. Jackson will sign with one of the many receiver-hungry franchises. Jacksonville, Washington, Chicago, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and San Francisco could be interested.
Similar to Jackson. A big, talented receiver who’s had some off-field and work ethic issues. Todd Haley benched/demoted him a few times in Kansas City, and there was a four-game league suspension. Do the Chiefs want to commit big money to him? We’ll see. I’m guessing he’ll stay put.
He’s a No. 1 receiver. He’s proven that the last two years with the Broncos and Rams. I expect St. Louis will re-sign him. If not, he could wind up in New England. Lloyd has a history working with Josh McDaniels. Lloyd would represent a big upgrade over Deion Branch for that offense. Lloyd, however, wouldn’t be used nearly as extensively in New England as he has been in the last two years.
I think he’ll stay in New Orleans. There are physical issues. He’s a big, velocity-challenged receiver who’s had a lot of knee probems. I think that will help scare away other teams from moving for him. Colston’s highest value is to the Saints. He’s been there a long time and knows that offense. I remember hearing Drew Brees going to bat for Devery Henderson in either 2010 or 2011 (when he was on the chopping block). There’s a value in not turning over too much of a roster.
The Patriots supposedly will franchise him. I’ll believe it when I see it. Doesn’t seem like the Belichick way to pay $9.4 million to a receiver who’s probably not worth over $5 million to any other team. How much would New England’s offense lose if they simply put Julian Edelman in that possession-receiver role? But I expect Welker will be back with New England somehow.
He’s got some TO/Ochocinco in him. He’ll cause some headaches with antics after touchdowns and whatnot. But he’s a talented guy. The Bills should figure out a way to re-sign him, and he’ll be their leading receiver. He’s caught 158 passes and 17 TDs the last two years.
He’s butted heads with Andy Reid. Eagles likely will franchise him. They could trade him to one of the many receiver-hungry teams, or Jackson could play 2012 under the one-year franchise tag.
He’s younger and has more downfield ability than Reggie Wayne, so he’s probably higher on the list of priorities for the Colts.
After Victor Cruz, Robinson was the big surprise at wide receiver last year, scoring week after week. Not bad, considering the Falcons, Rams and Chargers all gave up on him. I expect Jerry Jones will figure out a way to re-sign him.
He’s a former first-round pick, so he’s been a disappointment in his five years with the Saints. They don’t use him much; he’s an outside-type receiver who contributes a few big plays. As with Colston, however, he’s more valuable to them than anybody else. I don’t envision any other team breaking the bank for him.
He’s one of the league’s best No. 3 receivers. He’s not so good, however, that some team is likely to pay him to be a starter. He’s on the small side (5-11, 183). I’m guessing he’ll stay with the Giants.
He’s on the decline – a 33-year-old. But he’s still a starter-caliber player. If the Cardinals, Dolphins, Jets or Washington wind up signing Peyton Manning, they might bring in Wayne as well to make for a smoother transition.
He got hurt in the first game last year, which was a huge blow to the Rams. He’s the Wes Welker of their offense – he would have caught 80-90 passes for about 800 yards. He’s a restricted free agent, so he’ll stay in St. Louis. Offense will be different, though, so his role might not be as large.
He has considerable off-field issues. Authorities think he’s a drug dealer; he was charged after they found a bunch of marijuana at his residence. But it remains to be seen how that all plays out. If he’s not convicted, he won’t be the first Simpson with an NFL background to wiggle out of a tight legal spot. He definitely has talent. In the one game A.J. Green missed last year, Simpson became the go-to receiver and caught 8 passes for 152 yards against the Ravens.
He got called out by Larry Fitzgerald’s dad late last year. Larry Sr. doesn’t think he works hard enough. But Doucet seems to be an above-average slot receiver on the rise. If the Cardinals don’t want him, some other team will.
Big receiver with some red zone potential. He won’t be back with the Jets. He indicates he’d like to play in Philadelphia. That would put the two most notable NFL players to have served time in prison on the same team. Vick to Plax.
At best will be an average slot receiver for the Broncos or another team.
He says he’d like to re-sign with the Patriots, but do they want him? They need a receiver with more speed who can take the top off a defense. No other teams will be interested in Branch as a starter.
His value is with the Falcons, where he’ll be the No. 3 behind Roddy and Julio.
The 49ers released him in December and … crickets. Lots of off-field problems and has struggled with drops/hands for years. Some team will sign him to an incentive-loaded contract, hoping he can win a starting job. Or maybe he just drops right out of the league. No fantasy value, in my opinion.
Posted by Scott Kopischke | Feb. 09 at 11:19 AM
Regarding Plaxico, are we no longer counting Ray Lewis in the "Notable NFL players to have served time in prison"?
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Feb. 09 at 11:52 AM
I don't know what happened on that night when there was a fight between Ray Lewis' entourage and another group. Two guys were stabbed and killed. Lewis was wearing a white suit that was never recovered. But charges against Lewis were reduced as part of a plea deal. He never served any time, and nobody was ever convicted of the murders. Still, the Eagles play the Ravens this year. If Vick completes a pass to Burress and Lewis makes the tackle on the play, I'm sure it will be noticed.
Posted by Matt Mumford | Feb. 10 at 11:38 AM
The Chargers have let a lot of talented guys go due to off field antics. If Vincent Jackson wasn't so up & down this past season they would've definitely signed him. I'd like to see him stay, however, he's got to be more consistent. His seemingly lackadaisical effort in the home Oakland game was certainly disappointing as well as the Detroit game.
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