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2012 NFL Free Agency: Wide Receivers on the Market

While it will certainly be interesting to see how the Jaguars approach free agency in addressing some of the needs, namely the wide receiver and defensive end positions, there seems to be little doubt that there will be a wide receiver signed by the Jaguars in free agency.

ProFootballWeekly went so far as to say that they expect Gene Smith to rank the free agent wide receivers and go after the top guy and refuse to be outbid. Who that top guy will be is largely dependent upon the actions that teams take with their impending free agents and obviously the way that Smith and his staff rank the players. Here's a look at the potential top free agent wide receivers and their current contract situation with their respective teams:

2012 Free Agent Wide Receivers

1 Marques Colston Hofstra 6-4 225
With an impending contract incoming for quarterback Drew Brees and with
Carl Nicks among several other players heading for free agency, it's very
possible that the Saints won't be able to afford a "luxury" player like Colston.

At 6-4, 225 Colston has been a large target for Brees and the Saints,
racking up over 1,000 yards in every season except 2008 in which he only
started in six games due to injuries. Injuries are the largest question mark
about Colston, but he has missed just two games in the last three seasons.
2 Dwayne Bowe LSU 6-2 221
Chiefs GM Scott Pioli recently described Bowe as a "key component of the
past and hopefully the future." With that, it seems doubtful that the Chiefs
will just resign to allowing him to reach free agency. If they can't reach a deal
with him, they also have the option to use the franchise tag.

However, if he does reach free agency he would be a prime target for any
team looking for a top receiver. His 15 touchdowns in 2010 led the NFL and
he has had over 1,100 yards for two consecutive seasons on less-than-great
Kansas City passing offenses.
3 Mike Wallace Mississippi 6-0 199
In three seasons, Wallace has quickly earned the respect of defenses for his
speed that has allowed him to beat teams deep. That has been reflected by
his yards/reception which has consistently been among the league's best.

However, as a restricted free agent it's doubtful that the Steelers would allow
Wallace to hit the open market without a tender that would require the
Jaguars to give a draft pick or maybe even two to sign him. A move that is
extremely unlikely to happen.
4 Wes Welker Texas Tech 5-9 185
Welker has been at the top of the NFL receiving leaderboards for several
years now ever since joining Tom Brady's Patriots. Whether or not he'd be
able to produce similar results in an offense that isn't New England's is a
little questionable, but there's no doubt he'd make for a pricy free agent.

The likelihood of that actually happening seems slim, to say the least. Why
Welker, a large piece of the reason the Patriots are playing in the Super
Bowl next week, wouldn't be a top priority for Belichick would be a complete
5 Stevie Johnson Kentucky 6-2 210
Bills GM Buddy Nix has said that he wants to keep Stevie Johnson in Buffalo
and Johnson has made no indication that he would like to play elsewhere.
The two sides have already had discussions about a contract extension so it
seems unlikely that the 25 year old will reach the open market.

With over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons and several big,
"game changing" plays he would likely be a hot commodity on the open
6 Vincent Jackson Northern Colorado 6-5 230
The Chargers haven't made two-time Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson much of a
priority in the last couple years and played under the franchise tag for all of
2011. That was right after a contract dispute with the team that withheld him
from the first 10 games of the 2010 season.

Perhaps the reason the Chargers seem fine with the idea of the receiver
leaving is due to his legal troubles since joining San Diego in the 2005 draft.
He was arrested and pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in 2006 and was
arrested again in Jan. 2009 for suspicion of drunken driving to which he also
pleaded guilty. He had a third incident in March 2010 for driving with a
suspended liscense and expired tags.

As cliche as it has become, he doesn't fit the type of player that Gene Smith
has dedicated himself to bringing to Jacksonville.
7 DeSean Jackson California 5-10 175
While this Jackson hasn't had the legal issues that Vincent Jackson has had,
he is also a character concern. Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee even went to
Twitter to say "Desean Jackson is a punk." Scobee went on to say, "...he
doesn’t respect anyone or anything around him."

I can't help but agree with Scobee, but that doesn't take away the impact
that Jackson has had on the field. He is certainly a speedy deep threat and
provides a dangerous return man for the Eagles. There's a good chance he'll
hit the market as, according to Paul Domowitch, "Jackson's opinion of his
worth continues to be night-and-day different from the Eagles" and the
Eagles are unlikely to franchise him.
8 Reggie Wayne Miami (FL) 6-0 190
Reggie Wayne has been among the league's best for a long time. The only
problem is maybe it's been too long. Signing a 33 year old great receiver
would smell a lot like the signing of a 33 year old Torry Holt in 2009 to
Jaguars fans. That move was a complete failure as Holt failed to find the
endzone once in his one year in Jacksonville.

Wayne's production hasn't fallen off like Holt's though and with a complete
overhaul and rebuild in Indianapolis, a 33 year old receiver likely wont be at
the top of the priority list for the Colts. Wayne had seven consecutive 1,000
yard seasons before this year in which he came 40 yards short. A still
impressive number given Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky were his
9 Brandon Lloyd Illinois 6-0 188
The Jaguars passed on the chance to give up a mid-round pick to the
Broncos to acquire Lloyd, instead allowing the Rams to give up a 5th round
pick to get Lloyd fresh off a season in which he led the NFL in receiving.

While 2011 certainly wasn't his strongest season he still managed to rack up
966 yards between his four games in Denver and 11 in St. Louis and was
the leading receivers for the Rams. Whether or not the 30 year old will stay
in St. Louis is still up in the air although Lloyd expressed some willingness to
stay after the hiring of Jeff Fisher after originally sounding as if he wanted
out once Josh McDaniels was hired away from the Rams by the Patriots.
10 Robert Meachem Tennessee 6-2 212
Similar to what was said about Colston, the Saints have a lot of free agency
needs to reach before they worry about "luxury" players like receivers. While
it's probably doubtful that the Saints allow both Colston and Meachem to
reach free agency and essentially destroy their receiving corps, it's likely that
one will not be in New Orleans next year.

In four relatively healthy years with the Saints Meachem hasn't done much,
but he's also been behind several on a loaded depth chart. He's made the
most of his opportunities on the field and has racked up 23 touchdowns in
his career in New Orleans. A change of scenery could be a dream come true
for Meachem.
11 Mario Manningham Michigan 6-0 185
12 Pierre Garçon Mount Union 6-0 209
13 Laurent Robinson Illinois State 6-2 194
14 Harry Douglas Louisville 6-0 183
15<a class= Josh Morgan
Virginia Tech 6-1 215
16 Plaxico Burress
Michigan State 6-5 232