2012 Offseason Movement: Wide Receiver
By Mark Wimer
July 18th, 2012

The offseason movement feature makes yet another appearance. It's one of the few staples of football that you know isn't going anywhere since there will always be players changing teams. Some will end up in better situations, some in worse ones. It's up to us to tell you which ones look good or bad from a preliminary look below. And it's up to you to continue to return to our website over the summer to see how some of these guys look to be panning out with their new teams. If nothing else, this will provide you with a refresher course or keep you informed on something you may have missed in April.

We wish we had a crystal ball to tell you exactly what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, and how much turnover there will be statistically. But the truth is, it's very early in the offseason. The key directive we can give you right now is to stay informed. Players change teams almost daily during the summer months, and a seemingly insignificant move in late August can have a huge impact on both the real NFL and your fantasy league.

We all want to know how Player X will fit in with Team Y. We all want to know how a superstar will react to the first major move of his career, or which journeyman on their last legs will resurrect their stat lines with a move elsewhere. And we can help you with that over time. For now, though, educate yourself on what you see below. Get a good base for how the moves should impact each team, and we'll continue to let you know how they are impacting each team. In the meantime, you can be assured that you won't be that guy at the bar saying something like, "I like Sidney Rice but just don't trust Tarvaris Jackson." while your friends give you blank stares and wonder where you were all offseason.

Wide Receivers by Mark Wimer

  1. Vincent Jackson - Tampa Bay (from San Diego)
    • What happened: Jackson was able to land a long-term deal with Tampa Bay after the Chargers decided not to place a franchise tag on him. Jackson had been seeking a long-term deal for several years, and now he has a five-year, $55.55 million contract with $26 million in guaranteed money for the first two years of the deal.

    • What it means: Jackson will provide young-but-maturing Josh Freeman a bona-fide number one wide receiver going forward. Jackson is big, strong, fast and elusive - he immediately upgrades the Buccaneers' receiving corps. Jackson's presence should also help open up some room for Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn as well. Josh Freeman's prospects are looking up for 2012 after a disappointing regression during 2011.

  2. Brandon Marshall - Chicago (from Miami)
    • What happened: Just two years after joining the Dolphins, Marshall wore out his welcome due to off-field incidents related to his anger management issues.

    • What it means: Marshall is reunited with Jay Cutler in Chicago. The last time they played together (2008), Cutler threw Marshall 181 passes for 104/1,265/6 receiving. The prior year, Cutler tossed 170 passes to Marshall for 102/1,325/7 receiving. Given the weak cast of receivers behind Marshall, he steps into Chicago as the clear-cut #1 wide receiver who should see a lot of targets each and every week. As long as Marshall can steer clear of the off-field issues, he should do well as Cutler's favorite target.

  3. Pierre Garcon - Washington (from Indianapolis)
    • What happened: Garcon was an unrestricted free agent who signed for big money with the Redskins - five years for $42.5 million with about $21.5 million in guaranteed money. He was brought in to help overhaul the Redskins' receiving corps, and is expected to line up at split end in order to utilize his deep speed (and new rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III's big arm).

    • What it means: Garcon is expected to be the deep threat for Washington in 2012. He was paid number one wide receiver money and the team expects him to bring a game-breaking big play presence to their attack this year.

  4. Robert Meachem - San Diego (from New Orleans)
    • What happened: Meachem moved on from New Orleans during free agency, signing a four-year deal with San Diego reported to be worth $25.9 million, with $14 million fully guaranteed.

    • What it means: Meachem is seen by head coach Norv Turner as an exciting vertical threat and a potential number one wide receiver. Meachem was signed to fill the hole left by Vincent Jackson when Jackson bolted to Tampa Bay during free agency. He'll line up across from oft-injured Malcom Floyd and Meachem will be given every chance to take over as the star receiver for quarterback Philip Rivers.

  5. Laurent Robinson - Jacksonville (from Dallas)
    • What happened: The Jaguars were desperate to upgrade a poor wide receiving corps, and they signed Robinson to a huge five-year, $32.5 million contract, with $14 million guaranteed. He was a free agent after one successful year in Dallas (80 targets for 54/858/11 receiving) and parlayed the big year into a lot of cash.

    • What it means: Robinson will be the vertical, deep threat in Mike Mularkey's offense, currently being installed in Jacksonville this preseason. He's being paid like a top wide receiver; now is time for Robinson to prove that he can run with the other top receivers in the league.

  6. Brandon Lloyd - New England (from St. Louis)
    • What happened: The Patriots signed Lloyd to a three-year, $12 million contract in March. He had a huge season in Denver in 2010 when McDaniels ran the show (153 targets for 77/1,448/11), but didn't thrive in the turbulent St. Louis situation last year (117 for 51/683/5 over 11 games).

    • What it means: There is a lot of personnel in New England at wide receiver, and Wes Welker is the clear number one guy. Deion Branch, Donte Stallworth, Anthony Gonzalez, Jabar Gaffney, Chad Ochocinco and Julian Edelman are all competing for roster spots/touches of the football. While Lloyd may be penciled in as the number two receiver across from Welker, he'll have to prove his worth to stay in that spot come September.

  7. Mario Manningham - San Francisco (from NY Giants)
    • What happened: Manningham didn't make progress in contract talks with the Giants, and moved on after signing a two-year deal that is worth up to a total of $7.375 million in San Francisco.

    • What it means: The word out of San Francisco as of mid-May is that Manningham is penciled in as the number two receiver across from Michael Crabtree. However, Randy Moss is in town with an incentive-laden contract to work towards, and Manningham will have to solidify his hold on the starter's job with a quality showing during training camp.

  8. Randy Moss - San Francisco (out of football)
    • What happened: Moss put on an impressive personal workout for the 49ers and earned another shot at the NFL, gaining a one-year, $1.75 million deal.

    • What it means: Because Moss played so poorly in 2010 (when he bounced around among three teams, ending with a lackluster stay in Tennessee), the 49ers protected themselves with an incentive-laden deal. As of mid-May, Moss is reportedly behind Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and A.J. Jenkins on the depth chart, and he'll be fighting for touches/playing time with Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams and Brett Swain during training camp.

  9. Jabar Gaffney - New England (from Washington)
    • What happened: The Redskins are undergoing a roster makeover, and they decided to release the veteran Gaffney despite his career-best 2011 (115 targets for 68/947/5 receiving). He rejoins the Patriots (Gaffney played there from 2006-2008) with a new two-year contract (financial terms undisclosed).

    • What it means: Gaffney, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Donte Stallworth, Anthony Gonzalez, Chad Ochocinco and Julian Edelman are all competing for roster spots/touches of the football. Gaffney is a steady, proven veteran but he's at a point in his career and in a situation which will likely curtail his fantasy production, assuming he even makes the team.

  10. Jerome Simpson - Minnesota (from Cincinnati)
    • What happened: Simpson wore out his welcome in Cincinnati thanks to a well-publicized marijuana arrest that led to a three-game suspension from the NFL. The Vikings decided to take a chance on the suspended free agent, signing him to a one-year contract.

    • What it means: The wide receiver situation in Minnesota is very unsettled. Percy Harvin delayed a necessary shoulder surgery in April for unclear reasons, and the team is said to be concerned by his erratic behavior. As of late April, Michael Jenkins still wasn't taking part in team workouts. There is plenty of room at the top of the Vikings' depth chart for Simpson to make a splash if he comes back from his suspension in top shape and well-prepared to play in the team's offense.

  11. Steve Smith - St. Louis (from Philadelphia)
    • What happened: Despite a questionable knee, he was signed to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal by the Rams which could be worth up to $2.5 million if Smith meets all the incentives.

    • What it means: The Rams have a lot of space on their roster for competent receivers. If Smith's balky knee is finally stable by training camp, he could work his way into the mix with St. Louis this coming season.

  12. Eddie Royal - San Diego (from Denver)
    • What happened: Royal has never recaptured the top form of his rookie season. He finished 2011 with 12 games played and 64 targets but a mere 19/155/1 receiving. He was allowed to depart in free agency, and landed a three-year, $13.5 million deal with $6 million guaranteed.

    • What it means: Royal contributes on special teams as a punt returner, so part of his value to the Chargers was in the return aspect of the game. He joins a new crowd of receivers in San Diego, including newly-arrived Robert Meachem, Roscoe Parrish, and Michael Spurlock. His role as a receiver will likely be to back up Meachem and Malcom Floyd.

  13. Eric Weems - Chicago (from Atlanta)
    • What happened: Weems departed Atlanta as a free agent, landing in Chicago with a three-year contract worth $4.2 million, with $1.5 million in guaranteed money.

    • What it means: Weems contributes more as a special teamer than as a receiver - his career high so far was last season in Atlanta with 11/90/0 receiving.

  14. Josh Morgan - Washington (from San Francisco)
    • What happened: Morgan departed from San Francisco in free agency. He landed in Washington with a two-year, $6 million deal, with $1.8 million in guaranteed base salary for 2012.

    • What it means: The Redskins expect Morgan to compete with Leonard Hankerson (injured hip last season) for the No. 2 job across from Pierre Garcon. Morgan could be in for a career season if A) He wins the No. 2 job, and B) He manages to stay healthy (which has been a problem so far in his career).

  15. Donnie Avery - Indianapolis (from Tennessee)
    • What happened: Avery moved on from Tennessee after playing in just eight games (and seeing a mere 11 targets for 3/45/1). He's struggled to get back into top form since missing all of 2010 due to a torn ACL in his right knee. Nonetheless, the Colts signed him to an undisclosed contract in March.

    • What it means: The Colts have crossed their fingers that Avery will once again be able to go full speed (Avery claimed on April 6, 2012 that he was running 4.25-second 40-yard dashes after the knee surgery/rehab). They need a deep threat to replace Pierre Garcon and they hope that Avery will be that guy.

  16. Lee Evans - Jacksonville (from Baltimore)
    • What happened: Evans had a forgettable year in Baltimore while struggling with an ankle injury for much of the year. The Jaguars decided to take a chance on the free agent, signing him to a one year deal in mid-April.

    • What it means: Evans will provide veteran depth for the Jaguars. He may flash his old speed on occasion, but Evans seems clearly on the downside of his career at 31 years old.

  17. Jacoby Jones - Baltimore (from Houston)
    • What happened: Jones was released by Houston after five seasons with the club - he averaged 16.5 yards per catch last year (65 targets for 31/512/2 receiving), but many observers thought he cost the Texans a win with a horrid punt return fumble in the playoff game vs. Baltimore. His deep speed was enough to land Jones a new gig in Baltimore - the team coughed up a two-year, $6.5 million deal with a $1.8 million signing bonus.

    • What it means: Jones looks like the #3 wide receiver in Baltimore as of mid-May, behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Jones may flash his speed and skills occasionally, but it's hard to see him getting fantasy-worthy numbers on a regular basis given the Ravens' offensive philosophy.

  18. Andre Caldwell - Denver (from Cincinnati)
    • What happened: After four years of mediocre production, Caldwell was allowed to depart Cincinnati in free agency. He signed on with Denver for a chance to work with Peyton Manning, getting a two-year deal (terms undisclosed).

    • What it means: Caldwell is in the mix for fourth or fifth wide receiver on the Broncos' roster - he's unlikely to make waves in fantasy football unless something unexpected happens to propel Caldwell into the starting lineup.

  19. Donte Stallworth - New England (from Washington)
    • What happened: Stallworth left Washington in free agency, signing a one-year deal for the veteran minimum with the Patriots ($825,000).

    • What it means: Stallworth faces a crowded field of competition to remain on the 53-man roster come September; Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Anthony Gonzalez, Jabar Gaffney, Chad Ochocinco and Julian Edelman are all vying for the available slots behind Wes Welker.

  20. Legedu Naanee - Miami (from Carolina)
    • What happened: Naanee departed the Panthers in free agency after just one season, setting career highs in targets, receptions and receiving yards. He landed with the Dolphins with a one-year deal.

    • What it means: The Dolphins were likely looking at Naanee for his special teams abilities. He is an adequate receiver, but his strength lies in his return game.

  21. Roscoe Parrish - San Diego (from Buffalo)
    • What happened: Parrish was allowed to depart Buffalo during free agency, signing a one-year deal with the Chargers.

    • What it means: Parrish joins a new crop of receivers in San Diego, including newly-arrived free agents Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, and Michael Spurlock. There isn't a lot of room on the roster as of mid-May. Parrish will have to work hard and show off his dual-threat returner/receiver capabilities in order to stick on the Chargers' 53-man roster.

  22. Chaz Schilens - NY Jets (from Oakland)
    • What happened: Schilens left Oakland in free agency to join the Jets (for a one-year deal worth $765,000). Schilens has been injured often during his short NFL career, and was slowed in December 2011 by foot and hip injuries.

    • What it means: Schilens will battle for the No. 3 or No. 4 wide receiver slot on the team - which means he won't be worth much as a fantasy prospect this year.

Other notable wide receivers that changed teams:

  • Duke Calhoun - Oakland (from NY Giants)

  • Lance Long - Detroit (from San Francisco)

  • Michael Spurlock - San Diego (from Tampa Bay)

  • Devin Thomas - Chicago (from NY Giants)

  • Tiquan Underwood - Tampa Bay (from New England)

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