A.J. Green is hitting free agency, and I’ll be interested to see what kind of interest he generates. If any. A few years back he was one of the league’s true franchise-type receivers, but he’s now 32 and hasn’t been much of a factor for the last two and half seasons.

Green missed all of the 2019 season after suffering an ankle injury in training camp. Last year he wasn’t even one of the top 2 wide receivers on his own team. Both Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins were more effective. Green averaged over 5 catches per week in the 2018 season, with 6 TDs, but injuries limited him to only 1 catch for 7 yards in the second half of that season.

Last year was Green’s worst. He played in all 16 games but simply wasn’t effective. He caught only 47 of the 104 passes thrown his way, and for just 523 yards. There were 35 wide receivers around the league with at least 100 targets, and Green was the only one who caught fewer than half of the balls thrown his way.

And with Green not making any plays downfield, he averaged only 5.0 yards per pass play. That was the worst in the league among wide receivers with at least 100 targets. Only six times in the last 20 years, in fact, has a wide receiver had 100-plus targets and averaged even fewer yards per play.

Since 2000, 38 wide receivers with at least 100 targets have averaged under 6.0 yards per play. Only eight of those players came back the next year and posted top-30 numbers (using PPR scoring). About two thirds of those guys didn’t finish with top-50 numbers.

In the chart below, the three wide receivers who came back from wildly ineffective seasons to finish with top 20 numbers have double black dots in front of their names. They’re all well-known: 2004 Anquan Boldin (4th), 2010 Steve Smith (8th) and 2012 Larry Fitzgerald (17th).

The five other wide receivers who rebounded to at least post top-30 numbers all are marked with a single black dot.

If we’re picking today, Green wouldn’t be one of the first 50 wide receivers on my board (and I’m not sure if he’d be in my top 60). There are lots of capable pass catchers out there, and there’s another deep group of rookies coming in.

On this chart below, the receivers are ordered by their ineffectiveness (Az-Zahir Hakim averaged only 4.16 yards per pass play in 2003, the worst season by any wide receiver with at least 100 targets since 2000).

YearPlayerTgtRecYdsTDYd/TgtNext YrRk
2003Az-Zahir Hakim, Det.1084944944.1631-533-362
2006•Chris Chambers, Mia.1545967744.4066-970-429
2000Peter Warrick, Cin.1265159274.7070-667-144
2007Darrell Jackson, S.F.1044649734.7812-190-1116
2016Tavon Austin, LAR1065850944.8013-47-1106
2001Peter Warrick, Cin.1377066714.8753-606-646
2020A.J. Green, Cin.1044752325.03??
2014Cecil Shorts, Jac.1105355715.0642-484-262
2012••Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.1567179845.1282-954-1017
2003Rod Gardner, Was.1155960055.2251-650-544
2004Bryant Johnson, Ariz.1024953715.2640-432-173
2007Marty Booker, Mia.1055055615.3014-211-2101
2005Greg Lewis, Phil.1054856115.3424-348-288
2001Terance Mathis, Atl.1055156425.3723-218-298
2004Peerless Price, Atl.1064557535.426-96-0140
2003Dez White, Chi.1074958335.4530-370-277
2000Terance Mathis, Atl.1245767955.4851-564-253
2005•Muhsin Muhammad, Chi.1366475045.5160-863-530
2010••Steve Smith, Car.1004655425.5479-1394-78
2010Danny Amendola, St.L.1238568935.605-45-0153
2003Josh Reed, Buff.1045858825.6516-153-0119
2004•Laveranues Coles, Was.1689095015.6573-845-527
2001Donald Hayes, Car.1055259725.6912-133-2115
2007Arnaz Battle, S.F.1045060065.7724-318-091
2016Jeremy Kerley, S.F.1156466735.8022-217-1109
2016Allen Robinson, Jac.1517388365.851-17-0188
2002Kevin Johnson, Cle.1206770345.8658-634-343
2000Terry Glenn, N.E.1637996365.9114-204-1104
2013Stevie Johnson, Buff.1015259735.9135-435-378
2002James Thrash, Phil.1075263585.9349-558-157
2003Peerless Price, Atl.1416483835.9445-575-351
2008Marvin Harrison, Ind.1076063655.940-0-0--
2014•James Jones, Oak.1127366665.9550-890-830
2011Greg Little, Cle.1196170925.9653-647-452
2003Ike Hilliard, NYG1026060865.9649-437-068
2019•Curtis Samuel, Car.1055462775.9777-851-524
2010Eddie Royal, Den.1055962735.9719-155-2114
2004••Anquan Boldin, Ariz.1045662315.99102-1402-74

—Ian Allan