I have spent a month and a half going over possible NFL free agents team by team. Now, we move on the positional breakdowns. I started with quarterbacks, and today I’m moving on to wide receiver. We’ll follow with looks at defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and inside linebacker. If there is enough interest at that point we will include safety and offensive line.
I think the 2017 free agent wide receivers are a pretty impressive group. I added draft grades, 40 combine times and hand sizes to try to make things a little more interesting. In no way am I advocating their importance. They simply add more context to each player.
I like a lot of the higher priced wide receivers but my favorite under the radar wide receiver is Kamar Aiken of Baltimore.
Dollar figures listed are player’s 2016 cap hits.
WR Alshon Jeffery – 11,163,041 – Bears
Hands 10 1/4
Draft grade: 82
Alshon Jeffery was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 2012 draft. Jeffery has 304 receptions for 4,549 yards and 26 yards over his first five seasons in the league. His best season was 2013 when he had 89 receptions for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 52 receptions for 821 yards and two touchdowns in 2016 in spite of being suspended for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy.
Jeffery had this explanation in the USA Today link posted above:
"As a professional athlete, I have been careful about what I put in my body," Jeffery said in a statement posted to Twitter. "I took a recommended supplement to combat inflammation. Unfortunately this supplement contained an ingredient that was on the NFL’s banned substance list. I take full responsibility and I'm deeply upset with myself for not doing the proper research on this supplement."
The Bears franchised Jeffery in 2016 but it is questionable whether they will franchise him again this season after his declining numbers due to injuries and the PED suspension.
WR Michael Floyd - $1,291,765 – Patriots
Hands 9 3/8
40 time 4.47
Draft grade: 89.5
Michael Floyd was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the 2012 draft. Floyd’s most productive year was in 2013 when he had 65 receptions for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns. He had 47 receptions for 841 yards and six touchdowns in 2014 and 52 receptions for 849 yards and six touchdowns in 2015.
Floyd seemed to be having a down year in 2016 even before he was arrested for drunk driving. The number of times he was targeted was slightly down but his number of receptions was really off. He had only 33 receptions on 71 targets for 446 yards and four touchdowns before he was released by the Cardinals.
I don’t think his numbers are all that bad for being the No. 2 receiver behind Fitzgerald. My main concern is his drunk driving. Is he going to be suspended by the league and how big of a problem is this with him? We know he already had a drunk driving while he was in college. Obviously driving under the influence is made that much dumber when you have plenty of money to call someone to drive you home. Perhaps, since you are already paying this guy millions, you include a chauffeur? He probably has lost his license so he might need one anyway and it could be worked out to be a nice tax free perk.
WR Terrelle Pryor - $1,671,000 - Cleveland
The Oakland Raider picked Terrelle Pryor in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft. Pryor played quarterback for the Raiders, Seahawks, Chiefs, Bengals, and Browns before moving to wide receiver during the last game of the 2015 season.
Pryor started his first season as a wider receiver with the Browns in 2016. He still subbed in as a quarterback in the third game of the season where he had 144 yards receiving, three completions for 35 yards and 20 yards rushing. He even played safety for one play.
Pryor had 77 receptions for 1,071 yards and four touchdowns during his first year as a wide receiver. Not bad for playing on a team that seemed to change quarterbacks more often than I put gas in my truck.
Check out this article written yesterday by Jeanna Thomas for SBN titled Terrelle Pryor loves the Browns and want to stay in Cleveland. I don’t think Pryor is planning to go anywhere.
WR DeSean Jackson - $8,000,000 - Washington
40 time 4.35
DeSean Jackson was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft. Jackson had 356 receptions for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns over his first six season with the Eagles before being released in one of the strangest moves in NFL history.
Washington signed Jackson in 2014 and he has had 142 receptions for 2,702 yards and 14 touchdowns over his last three years with them. He had 56 receptions for 1,005 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2016.
WR Pierre Garcon - $10,200,000 - Washington
40 time 4.48
Pierre Garcon was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of the 2008 draft. Garcon had 188 receptions for 2,519 yards and 16 touchdowns over his first four seasons with the Colts.
In 2012, Garcon went with the money and signed a five year contract with Washington. He has had 376 receptions for 4,549 yards and 21 touchdowns over the last five years in Washington. Last season he had 79 receptions for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns.
WR Kenny Britt - $4,850,000 - Rams
40 time 4.56
Kenny Britt was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the first round of the 2009 draft. Britt has 309 receptions for 4,881 yards and 30 touchdowns over his eight year career.
Most importantly, after being signed by the Rams in 2014 he had 48 receptions for 748 yards, followed by 36 receptions for 681 yards in 2015, leading up to last season which was his most productive year so far with 68 receptions for 1,002 yards and 5 touchdowns.
WR Brandon LaFell - $2,437,500 - Bengals
Hands 8 ¾
Brandon LaFell was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the third round of the 2010 draft. Brandon had 118 receptions for 1,758 yards and eight touchdowns over his first three NFL seasons with the Panthers.
LaFell then chose to sign with the Patriots in 2014 and had 74 receptions for 953 yards and 7 touchdowns that year. Unfortunately, he missed the first five games in 2015 with a foot injury and had a down year with a few drops resulting in his subsequent release by the Patriots at the end of the season. He ended up with 37 receptions for 515 yards and no touchdowns that year.
LaFell bounced back after signing with the Bengals in 2016 with 64 receptions for 862 yards and 6 touchdowns.
WR Kenny Stills - $1,671,000 - Dolphins
Wt. 194 pounds
40 time 4.38
Draft grade: 66
Kenny Stills was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He had 32 receptions for 641 yards his rookie season and 63 receptions for 931 yards in his second season with Brees throwing to him.
Stills was traded to the Dolphins in March of 2015 and his statistics took a hit that season with just 27 receptions for 440 yards. However, his stats were up again last season under new head coach Adam Gase with 42 receptions for 726 yards and most importantly, nine touchdowns. It is always nice to get the ball into the end zone.
WR Markus Wheaton - $1,818,844 - Steelers
Hands 9 1/8
40 time 4.45
Draft grade: 81.8
Markus Wheaton was picked by the Steelers in the third round of the 2013 draft. Markus Wheaton had 53 receptions for 644 yards and two touchdowns in 2014 and 44 receptions for 749 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. He injured his shoulder in the third game of the 2016 season and missed the rest of the season.
WR Robert Woods - $1,548,517 – Bills
Wt. 201 pounds
Hands 9 ¼
40 time 4.51
Draft grade: 83.1
Robert Woods was picked in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Buffalo Bills. He has career totals of 203 receptions for 2,451 yards and 12 touchdowns over his first four years. He has been hindered by nagging injuries the last couple of seasons. First, he had a groin injury that required surgery in 2015 and then he suffered from foot problems and a sprained knee in 2016. He is currently the Bill’s No. 2 wide receiver behind Sammy Wadkins.
He had 51 receptions for 613 yards and one touchdown in 2016. I wonder how he would do under Shanahan?
WR Kamar Aiken - $2,553,000 - Baltimore
40 time 4.45
Kamar Aiken was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Bills in 2011. He was subsequently cut and picked up by the Bears who cut him in November and the Patriots signed him to their practice squad. He floated on and off the Patriots practice squad until they released him in August of 2013 which is when he finally landed in Baltimore and he finally made it onto the field in 2014 which resulted in 24 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns.
In 2015, Aiken suddenly found himself in the starting lineup as the result of injuries to Steve Smith, Breshad Perriman, Dennis Pitta, and Crockett Gilmore and he quickly made a name for himself with 75 receptions for 944 yards and 5 touchdown.
Aiken lost his starting job when Steve Smith returned in 2016 but still managed to catch 29 passes for 328 yards in 2016. You can read about his frustration in an article written by Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun where he states:
“I’m a starter in this league, and I feel like I can make a lot of plays, and I make plays when they come my way.”
WR Ted Ginn - $2,775,000 - Panthers
Ht. 5’11 1/4
40 time 4.35
Ted Ginn was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2007 draft. He has had 309 receptions for 4,285 yards and 25 touchdowns over his 10 year career. He probably would have had even better stats if he had not played for the 49ers where he had by far the lowest 3 year totals of his career.
Ginn had 44 receptions for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015 and 54 receptions for 752 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2016. I think everyone already know what a dangerous kick and punt returner he is.
WR Brian Quick - $1,703,125 - Rams
Hands 9 3/4
40 time 4.55
Draft grade: 84.7
Brian Quick was drafted by the Rams in the second round of the 2012 draft. Quick had 41 receptions for 564 yards and three touchdowns in 2016 after only having 54 receptions for 935 yards over his first four years.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson - $2,297,605
Wt. 216 pounds
40 time 4.42
Draft grade: 90.6
Cordarrelle Patterson was selected in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Patterson has 132 receptions for 1,316 yards over his first four seasons. He dropped to being their No. 5 wide receiver in 2015 and mainly just returned kicks and punts with only two receptions for 10 yards. However, he was able to get back into the lineup in 2016 and had 52 receptions for 453 yards. He also played in his second pro bowl as a returner.
WR Justin Hunter - $905,882 - Bills
Hands 9 3/8
40 time 4.44
Draft grade: 81.8
The Tennessee Titan picked Justin Hunter with the No. 34 pick of the 2013 draft. Hunter started off well with 18 receptions for 354 yards in 2013 and continued to get better with 28 receptions for 498 yards in 2014. In 2015 he had 22 receptions for 264 yards before going down with a fractured ankle in mid-November. The Titans released Hunter in September of 2016 and he was picked up on waivers by the Bills. He had 10 receptions for 189 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Justin Hunter does not seem like a starting wide receiver but I wonder if he would make a good red zone target? It looks like we could sign him fairly cheaply to at least compete in training camp.
WR Kendall Wright - $2,054,613
Hands 8 5/8
40 time 4.61
Draft grade: 88.5
Kendall Wright was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the first round of the 2012 draft. Wright has 280 receptions for 3,244 yards and 18 touchdowns over his first five seasons with the Titans. He had 29 receptions for 416 yards and three touchdowns in 2016.
WR Andre Holmes - $2,000,000 - Raiders
Hands 8 5/8
40 time 4.53
Andre Holmes was signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2011. The Vikings released him that year and he was signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. He was released by the Cowboys at the end of the season and signed and waived by the Patriots in 2013 before finally being claimed off of waivers by the Raiders in May of 2013.
Holmes has 100 receptions for 1,451 yards over his four year stay with the Raiders. He had 14 receptions for 126 yards and three touchdowns in 2016.