With just three more weeks until the 2012 NFL Free Agency period begins it's becoming more apparent which players will stay with the teams they were with in 2011 and which players will don new colors in the fall. While guys like Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe seem like an unlikely candidate to reach the open market, there are a few guys that appear to be headed towards free agency.
While it's certainly possible that both DeSean Jackson and Vincent Jackson will be on the market, more so the latter than the former, I doubt that either will be targets for the Jaguars. Instead the more likely scenario is that the Jaguars will have their choice between Saints WR Marques Colston and Bills WR Stevie Johnson.
As Alfie has said in recent articles, Johnson is far apart from the Bills in negotiations and unlikely to receive the franchise tag and there's a very good chance that the Saints will be forced to choose G Carl Nicks instead of Colston.
Excluding Vincent Jackson and DeSean Jackson from the talent pool, it's hard to argue that any player with the exception of Bowe would make for a higher priority free agent receiver than Johnson or Colston. However, Bowe is likely to get the franchise tag as Joel Thorman of ArrowheadPride has noted.
So when it comes down to it, it seems that the most likely scenario will be a choice for the Jaguars between Colston and Johnson. So who would you choose?
Age: 28 (6-5-1983)
||1,000 Yard Seasons: 5|
Pros: Productive every year since joining the NFL. Huge size with impressive speed to fit the frame. Solid, reliable hands with reliable production.
Cons: 3 knee surgeries in the last 12 months and more knee issues before that. Has spent his entire career in a pass-happy offense that could've inflated his statistics. Not the greatest deep threat with no more than three 40+ yard receptions in the last three seasons.
Age: 25 (7-22-1986)
||1,000 Yard Seasons: 2|
Pros: Younger than Colston with only one rib injury in 2009 and no other injury history. Deep threat with better hands than he's given credit for.
Cons: Memorable drops in clutch situations. A few personal foul penalties for excessive celebration.
The question between the two is figuring out how much stock should be put in to the results of the past in deciding who will make a better player in the future. While Colston has certainly proven himself as an NFL receiver with six, Johnson has shown potential to be a star receiver for many seasons to come.
And that's why I'm picking Johnson between the two. While he has had memorable drops, it is something that can improve as he matures through his career and it's something that has shown signs of improvement. And while Johnson has had some excessive celebration penalties, I'd hardly consider it an issue worth passing on the receiver for.
Ultimately, I like both receivers, but sign me up for the guy that is three years younger and without a knee surgery.