NFL free agency preview: Wide receivers
- Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor highlight the pool of available wide receivers heading into NFL free agency.
If your team isn’t getting a new quarterback in the next few months, receiver is the flashiest position out there. Rarely does an elite receiver become available in free agency, and there’s not one on the market this year (though there is a very, very good one).
That said, beware of the Mike Wallaces of the market. Wallace signed a $60 million deal with the Dolphins in 2013 and was traded for a fifth-round pick two years later. In between those two extremes, there’s still some talent on the market.
Cream of the Crop: Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor
There’s no doubt that these are the best available receivers, with Pierre Garçon coming in at third. Jeffery, who was franchise tagged last year, hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season since 2014 and has dealt with injury and suspension the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, it’s a good thing Pryor swallowed his pride and moved from quarterback to receiver, because he’s about to get paid. Pryor topped 1,000 receiving yards on throws from Cody Kessler, Josh McCown, Robert Griffin III, Kevin Hogan and Charlie Whitehurst. Just imagine what he’ll be able to do with more experience under his belt and a better quarterback.
Jeffery’s ideal team fit: 49ers. Obviously San Francisco needs to figure out its quarterback situation first, but Kyle Shanahan is coming from a Falcons team with its own big-bodied receiver in Julio Jones and could use one in his new home. Jeffery isn’t nearly as versatile or as good as Jones, but the 49ers have the money to pay for him.
Pryor's ideal team fit: Browns. Cleveland drafted a slew of receivers last year, but none of them are as good as Pryor. The franchise tag would mean Pryor would be making $15.8 million in 2017, and he may not be worth that much. But the Browns can’t let another talent they nurtured walk away.
Bargain Bin: Jordan Norwood
Norwood spent the past two years with the Broncos after bouncing around a few rosters and practice squads. He is best known for his Super Bowl record 62-yard punt return two seasons ago, but he has mostly been a spot player at receiver: He had a career-high 35 catches last season for 232 receiving yards while returning 25 punts for an 8.2 yard average. Norwood won’t change the fortunes of a team, but for a deal that averages about $1 million per year, he would be a great, cheap addition.
Ideal team fit: The Cowboys could be interested in Norwood, especially if they don’t bring back Brice Butler in free agency.
Overpay Alert: Kendall Wright
The former first-round pick had an unceremonious departure from Nashville, watching his snaps decrease and having issues making it to meetings on time, if he made it at all. Finally, he was a healthy scratch in the season finale and admitted the next week that he knew he wouldn’t be part of the 2017 Titans. Maybe a change in scenery will help Wright, who only has one 1,000-yard receiving season in five years (and that was in 2013). But it’s that exact sort of optimism that can lead to a team paying big bucks for a receiver who caught just 29 passes last season for 416 yards.
Ideal team fit: With Norwood hypothetically heading elsewhere, perhaps a trip to Denver would suit Wright best. Detroit could use some help at receiver, as well.
Teams interested in the position: Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans.