While scouring the internet this AM in an attempt to quench my insatiable football thirst I came upon a pretty well written and detailed article (written by Evan Silva over at rotoworld.com) projecting where many of the current free agent WRs will go this upcoming season. While I may not agree with Mr. Silva as far as the player's final landing spots it's most definitely worth reading. He makes some valid points that will help answer the question of who are the FA WRs available when you get out of the top five/six?
Seeing that the Jaguars have had a pretty well documented past of poor performing free agent acquisitions I think it's an understatement to say we have to hit on our WRs this off season. (you can add Aaron Kampman, Matt Turk, Jason Spitz to that list also)
I'm sure we all know about Vincent Jackson, Brandon Lloyd, Marques Colston, Steve Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Mario Manningham, and Robert Meachem (on a smaller scale) by now. But who's next? These 'gems' will likely be signed by someone; I'd assume at least one in Jax next year....
Laurent Robinson, Cowboys
Scouting Report: A lean, long-armed wideout with 4.38 wheels coming out of Illinois State, Robinson appeared poised for an impressive career after catching 37 passes for 437 yards in only six starts as a rookie. Injuries and inconsistency plagued Robinson for the next three years, but he rehabbed his stock with career highs in receptions (54), yards (858), and touchdowns (11) in Dallas last season. Robinson abused single coverage while Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten drew the vast majority of defense's attention. While Robinson has some good-looking tools, the sudden breakout as a fifth-year player is concerning. He's been incredibly brittle, and Robinson's track record inspires no confidence that he wouldn’t be a free agent bust.
Braylon Edwards, 49ers
Scouting Report: When healthy, Edwards is a smooth deep threat with a knack for creating separation downfield. He is 6-foot-3, 214 and ran 4.45 coming out of Michigan. Edwards is also an underrated run blocker. Off-field issues crushed his 2011 market value, however, and medical woes may do the same this spring. Edwards pleaded guilty to DUI in 2010 and was fined for violating the league's substance abuse policy in September. Another infraction could result in suspension. Edwards tore his right meniscus in Week 2 with the 49ers and missed the next five weeks. He separated his right shoulder almost immediately after returning and was completely ineffective down the stretch. Edwards was cut on December 27. No team put in a waiver claim. He will likely be available for the veteran minimum this season.
Other Wide Receiver Free Agents:
To the angst of many BCC members, I'm actually a fan of Robinson and I'm absolutely in favor of signing a Parrish or Ginn-like kick return/punt return specialist. Neither Parish or Ginn will get the job done as a playmaker at WR, but they would likely sign under the Kassim Ossgood premise of being given the opportunity to do more at WR.
The below section, I believe is the most curious part of the article though...
Wide Receiver Release Candidates
Chad Ochocinco, Patriots
Overview: Acquired last July for a 2012 fifth-round pick and sixth-rounder in 2013, Ochocinco was painfully slow to pick up the Patriots' offense and failed to capitalize on increased playing time when Aaron Hernandez missed two early-season games with a knee injury. As of mid-October, teammates were still telling Ochocinco where to line up for certain offensive plays. Ocho fell behind Tiquan Underwood and Julian Edelman on the depth chart in December, and finished the regular season with 276 yards on 15 receptions in 15 appearances. He was a healthy scratch for the AFC Championship Game. At age 34, Ochocinco's separation skills have declined sharply and he is mentally unreliable. Ochocinco is due $4.6 million in 2012 salary and bonuses.
Lee Evans, Ravens
Overview: Attempting to address their need for perimeter speed, the Ravens sent a 2012 fourth-round pick to Buffalo in exchange for Evans on August 12. After racking up 128 yards and a touchdown on six catches in two preseason games, Evans suffered a high left ankle sprain and was totally ineffective while attempting to play through the injury in September. The Ravens shut Evans down for all of October and most of November. He returned for the stretch run but could not get open, finishing the regular season with four catches for 74 yards in nine games (two starts). In the AFC Championship Game, Evans had a critical would-be touchdown catch stripped from his hands by Patriots CB Sterling Moore. Now 31, Evans is due a $1 million roster bonus on March 18 in addition to a $3.275 million base salary. His cap number is $5.61 million.
Hines Ward, Steelers
Overview: Ward was listed as a "starter" in eight of the Steelers' 2011 regular season gamebooks, but five of his starts occurred in the first five games and he was demoted to fifth receiver at midseason, falling behind Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, and Emmanuel Sanders. Ward averaged 14 snaps played in Pittsburgh's final nine games, including the playoffs. His 8.3 yards-per-reception average was easily a career low, and Ward's 381 receiving yards were his fewest since 1998, Ward's rookie season. Turning 36 in March, Ward has deteriorated into a slow-moving slot receiver who struggles mightily to get open and is easily taken out of plays by physical press coverage. In late January, Ward underwent surgery to remove loose bone fragments from his right ankle. He has a $4 million base salary for 2012.
Depending on what we do in the draft and free agency, we may not need to be concerned with the second group of names. Though, I honestly would not be against us picking up Evans for a low to moderate contract...and we all have to admit that Senor' Ocho in Duval would be just hilarious to watch... But I digress, since that likely won't happen (but I'd pay Khan a dollar to make it a reality).
With the Jaguars likely drafting from the pack of:
- Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, or TY Hilton.
- Signing Harry Douglas (or another tier 2 wide receiver - Robinson, Crayton, Manningham-as Alfie mentions here, he's most definitely a #2).
- All we'd be missing is one big time #1 receiver (Johnson, Coltson, Jackson) to have a completely rounded passing threat.
You can read the rest of the article here.