Even though the NFL hasn’t produced a lot of major headlines as of late, some teams have made some great value signings over the past few weeks. Shockingly the wide receiver position hasn’t gained a lot of attention from teams. It appears that at this point of the offseason that teams would rather bet on the young players on their roster to fill their receiver depth chart than sign a veteran. However, there are a few veteran receivers available who could still make a major impact on a team next season. Here are the best landing spots for free agent wide receivers.
Odell Beckham Jr.
This list cannot start without mentioning former Los Angeles Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. There were not many receivers more dominant down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs as Beckham Jr. was once he joined the Los Angeles Rams. Beckham Jr. was slated to have a huge market in free agency before he tore his ACL during the Super Bowl.
Now Beckham Jr. will have to prove to teams that he is healthy enough to contribute to the roster. The former three-time Pro Bowler is now coming off his second torn ACL in two years. Many may fear that the combination of Beckham’s age and major knee surgeries in back-to-back seasons may cause him to lose the explosiveness that made him such an exciting player throughout his career. There are only a few teams that at this point would make sense for Beckham Jr. because he needs to land in a situation where he doesn’t have to be the guy because he will be hurt, but will be an x-factor player late in the season.
Following the Bryan Edwards trade, the Las Vegas Raiders don’t have a third receiver on the depth chart that they could trust to have a consistent role for their offense. Behind Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, the Raiders have Demarcus Robinson, Keelan Cole, and Mack Hollins. Las Vegas has three reliable pass catchers on the roster in Adams, Renfrow, and Darren Waller. However, if anything was to happen to any of them then the Raiders would have a hard time replicating their production.
Similar to when he joined Los Angeles, a healthy Beckham Jr. could push the Raiders over the top. A Derek Carr-led offense that features Davante Adams, Odell Beckham Jr., Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller feels like a lock to make the playoffs in a loaded AFC West. Beckham Jr. would be open to the idea of playing on the West Coast (especially Las Vegas), playing with a quarterback like Derek Carr, and pairing up with an All-Pro caliber receiver in Davante Adams.
Best Landing Spot: Las Vegas Raiders
Despite trading a second-round pick for his last offseason, the Tennessee Titans released wide receiver Julio Jones after only one season with the team. Jones was limited to ten games last season due to a nagging hamstring injury. Throughout the latter part of Jones’ career, he has dealt with hamstring injuries that have held him out of practice, kept him out of games, and limited his production on the field. Last season at age 32 Jones still was able to produce at a high level when healthy.
There is no doubt that when Jones inevitably hangs up his cleats that he will go down as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. He should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer as well. However, at this point of his career, Jones is no longer the caliber of receiver he was at the peak of his career. At this point it would be hard to trust him to be a team’s first or second option on offense.
One team whose receiver depth chart is looking thin right now is the Baltimore Ravens. After trading Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals, 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman now moves up the depth chart as the team’s number one wide receiver. Bateman will likely be Baltimore’s second option in the passing game after First-Team All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews.
Baltimore’s group of pass-catchers options after those two is one of the thinnest groups in the league. At the receiver position, the Ravens have second-year receiver Tylan Wallace, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche II. Then Baltimore loaded up their tight end room by drafting Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely in the fourth round of this past draft.
The Ravens would be a perfect landing spot for Jones because he wouldn’t be expected to be a major piece of this offense next season. Unlike his time in Atlanta and Tennessee, Jones doesn’t have to dominate every snap and isn’t expected to have a huge impact on every possession. Jones could be the WR2 and third option in Baltimore’s passing game.
As a third option, Jones likely won’t have a huge role because the Ravens are such a run-heavy team behind Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins. This should allow the Ravens to preserve Jones who likely cannot play a full 17-game schedule and have the impact he had earlier in his career. Jones could have a few massive games for the Ravens next season that push them into Super Bowl contenders.
Best Landing Spot: Baltimore Ravens
After missing almost the entire 2021-22 NFL season due to injury, Will Fuller V has become one of if not the most forgotten star receivers in the entire league. Fuller V has dealt with injuries throughout his entire career. However, when he is on the field there are very few receivers who are as good at stretching the field as Fuller. Back in 2020-21 was having an outstanding year and had already posted career highs in multiple receiving categories before being suspended for violating the league’s P.E.D. policy. He then left Houston and signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins last offseason. But Fuller only played in two games last season due to a broken finger.
At this point of his career, it appears it is clear what type of player Fuller is. He is a burner receiver who has the potential to explode for a team’s offense in any given game at the risk of getting hurt and missing extended time. For a reasonable price, Fuller could be worth the investment and a value signing for some teams.
The one team that is flying under the radar when it comes to teams in need of a wide receiver is the Cleveland Browns. If they didn’t steal Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland would need a number one receiver in a major way. The Browns cut both Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper within the past year. After Cooper, there is a drop-off in proven production on this roster. Cleveland’s group of pass-catchers includes David Njoku, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Harrison Bryant, Anthony Schwartz, and 2022 third-round pick David Bell.
The Browns could be easily interested in bringing in a veteran wide receiver like Will Fuller to their roster. It is believed that part of the reason why Fuller signed with Miami last offseason is that he thought that there was a good chance his former Texans teammate Deshaun Watson would land there. He could be still interested in reuniting with the best quarterback he has ever played with. Fuller could immediately be slotted into Cleveland’s second receiver role and potentially pick up where he left off in 2020-21.
The pairing of Cooper and Fuller catching passes from Deshaun Watson combined with the dynamic rushing duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt could lead this team back to the playoffs. The Browns are also a nice landing spot for Fuller because if he misses time due to injury they have enough young depth to fill the void on this roster.
Best Landing Spot: Cleveland Browns
There have been a few reports in recent months that teams are interested in signing former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. The star receiver has not been the same since his quarterback Andrew Luck retired in the 2018 preseason. Hilton has failed to record 800 receiving yards or play more than 15 games in a season over the last three seasons. After a decade in Indianapolis, it appears that Hilton could play with a new team this upcoming year.
Hilton will go down as one of the greatest receivers in Colts franchise history. But it wouldn’t make much sense for him to return to Indianapolis because he will take away from 2022 second-round pick Alec Pierce who is expected to compliment Michael Pittman Jr. this upcoming season. Some of Hilton’s career accomplishments include being a four-time Pro Bowler and leading the league in receiving yards in 2016. But at age 32 Hilton will have to settle for a complementary receiver role for an offense if he lands with a team before the start of the regular season.
It is difficult to take the Chicago Bears very seriously next season as a potential playoff contender or competitive team overall when looking at this roster. One of the weakest parts of this roster is the group of pass catchers this new regime has put together for Justin Fields. Chicago’s pass-catching group is led by Darnell Mooney and former second-round pick tight end Cole Kmet. After these two Chicago’s third pass-catching option is a toss-up between Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, and 2022 third-round pick Velus Jones Jr. That shouldn’t inspire a lot of hope for those hoping Justin Fields takes a leap forward next season.
Bears head coach Matt Eberflus should consider reuniting with T.Y. Hilton in Chicago. Eberflus was the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts for four seasons prior to landing the Bears head coaching job. During that time he saw what type of leader Hilton was for Indianapolis and should recognize that his current team is lacking that player. His current team is also lacking a trustworthy complementary receiver to Darnell Mooney. Hilton may not be the star player he was earlier in his career. However, he could be trusted to be one of Chicago’s two best receiving options, when healthy, if he was to sign there.
Best Landing Spot: Chicago Bears
There could be multiple factors to why the Buffalo Bills let go of veteran slot receiver Cole Beasley. It was likely a combination of his cap hit, decline due to age, and his public opinion of the COVID-19 vaccine. Late in the NFL offseason, it is a shock that one of the best slot receivers in the league is still available on the free-agent market.
It was just last season that Beasley was named Second Team All-Pro for his role in Buffalo’s offense. Beasley was by far the best pure slot receiver in the NFL at age 31. Even though Beasley has never recorded 1,000+ receiving yards in a single in his career, he has been a reliable pass catcher during his time in both Dallas and Buffalo.
Even after drafting Alec Pierce in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, there are a few questions about the Indianapolis Colts’ receiving core. This team wants to be competitive next season based on the signings and trades they have made recently. However, the one area that brings up the most questions for this team is the group of pass-catchers.
Indianapolis lacks a star pass-catcher despite having solid depth including Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell, Mo Alie-Cox, 2022 third-round pick Jelani Woods, Keke Coutee, and Kyle Granson.
Beasley isn’t going to emerge as the number one receiver on the team if he lands in Indianapolis. However, he could compete with 2019 second-round pick Parris Campbell for the team’s starting slot role.
Campbell is an explosive gadgety-player that brings something different to this offense. However, he has only played in 15 games in the first three years of his career. Beasley is more of a traditional slot receiver that could be relied upon to have a consistent role every week and possibly expand on it every once in a while. He would be filling the role left by Zach Pascal who signed with Philadelphia. Also if Pierce struggles early on in his career Beasley could compliment Pittman Jr. as the second-best pass catcher for the Colts offense.
Best Landing Spot: Indianapolis Colts
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