By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Last offseason, there were several players who received deals in the range of a true number one wide receiver. I will be absolutely shocked to see any free agent receiver this offseason pull in that type of contract.
One could argue that the biggest name on the market this offseason is Los Angeles Chargers WR Tyrell Williams. Williams’ production has dropped off since 2016, but that has more to do with the ascension of RB Melvin Gordon and the addition of WR Mike Williams. Williams is a 6’4″ burner who can be one of the better number two receivers in the league if given the opportunity. And as the most productive free agent receiver on the market, do not be surprised if Williams gets a contract around $10 million a season. The Jets and Colts have clear needs at receiver and a ton of cap space to work with. If a bidding war starts, Williams could be staring at close to $12 million a year.
Devin Funchess may only be 25 years old, but he’s also slow and not all that productive. The Panthers miscast him as their number one receiver, largely due to his size, and their offense suffered as a result. He is better cast as a number two receiver and someone to target in the red zone. My biggest problem with Funchess is the fact he can’t catch the damn ball. Over his four year career, Funchess has a 14.3 drop percentage. A great receiver usually catches between 60% and 70% of their targets, but when you drop close to 15% of those catchable targets, you’re not doing your offense many favors. But if the likes of Paul Richardson and Albert Wilson suckered teams into giving them $8 million a year last offseason, Funchess should easily earn around that number, if not more.
Golden Tate hits the market this year for the second time in his career, likely looking at his last big payday. He is as close to a lock for 90 catches a season as you can get. He split last season between Detroit and Philadelphia, and still managed 74 catches in 15 games. He is one of the best in the NFL at generating yards after the catch, has great hands, and runs clean routes. New England has a clear need at receiver and could use a savvy veteran for Tom Brady to throw to.
Speaking of New England, former first round pick Phillip Dorsett is an interesting free agent this offseason. Through the first four years of his career, he has been woefully underwhelming, but he possesses world class speed and can hit home runs on deep balls. His route running is so-so and his hands are consistently inconsistent, but when called upon in New England, he was productive. The Patriots could look to bring him back and be their primary outside receiver with Edelman in the slot, or another team could step up to lure him away. The Jets and Raiders come to mind as teams with needs for an outside speed threat. (And we know how much Oakland loves their burners.)
Bucs’ WR Adam Humphries has consistently improved over his four years in the league and has a strong rapport with QB Jameis Winston. The Bucs don’t have a ton of cap space and need to overhaul their defense. Humphries could command around $6 million a year as one of the top slot receivers on the open market.
Jamison Crowder’s 2018 season was grossly interrupted due to injury, but he has been very productive when given the opportunity. The Redskins would probably love to keep him, but with a huge question mark at QB and money tied up in Alex Smith, they don’t have a ton of cap space to work with. Crowder’s ability as a punt returner is sure to help his cause. Teams that miss on Humphries should be looking his way.
Cole Beasley, another slot receiver on the open market, could be a fall back option for a team that misses out on Humphries. Beasley has had a couple of decent seasons and has reliable hands. It looks like Dallas is ready to move on from him and a team like the Saints, who have a need at the slot position, could come calling.
Dontrelle Inman, a favorite of our own Joe Zollo, came through in some big moments for the Colts last season as they continued to search for a reliable weapon opposite T.Y. Hilton. Inman is 30 years old so likely won’t command a huge salary, but he has good hands and runs solid routes. Could the Colts look to bring him back and save all their cap space to beef up their defense?
John Brown and Donte Moncrief each signed one-year deals last offseason to show they can be reliable when healthy. Both stayed healthy last year, and both had so-so seasons. Brown was off to a great start with Joe Flacco at QB, but when the team transitioned to Lamar Jackson, Brown’s production plummeted. Moncrief was stuck in a run-first offense and finished with 668 receiving yards. At this point, we know what both of these receivers are, and it’s nothing more than average production as the number two receiver for teams.
And then there are a couple of first round busts. The Bears’ Kevin White managed to stay healthy all season, but with the influx of offensive weapons the Bears brought in, White was a total non-factor. Perriman was released by the Ravens. He landed with the Browns and showed why he was a first round pick of the Ravens once upon a time. Perriman has great speed for his size and had a couple of huge gains at key moments for the Baker Mayfield-led Browns. But Perriman also has questionable hands and is abysmal as a route runner. It wouldn’t shock me to see one or both of these guys land on new teams with a one-year deal to see if they can put the pieces of their careers back together. The 2020 AAF season is also a strong possibility.
Other names you know that have a chance to make an impact include J.J. Nelson (ARI), Mike Wallace (PHI), Randall Cobb (GB), Chris Hogan (NE), Cordarrelle Patterson (NE), Jordan Matthews (PHI), Michael Floyd (WAS), Tavon Austin (DAL), and Terrance Williams (DAL).