This week continues the 2019 NFL free agency preview of available players, cut candidates, and landing spots, here is a look at the wide receiver position around the NFL landscape:
2019 FREE AGENTS
Funchess has been up and down during his rookie contract but has topped out at 840 yards (2017) and his per-game proration in 2018 is not much different. Funchess could be viewed as a lower-end No.1 receiver by the NFL but also a solid No.2 receiver. Gordon has been decent, but nowhere near his peak season years ago in Cleveland this year with the Patriots.
- John Brown
- Kelvin Benjamin
- Larry Fitzgerald
- Golden Tate
- Donte Moncrief
- Tyrell Williams
- Quincy Enunwa
- Robby Anderson (RFA)
Fitzgerald looks to still have some in the tank in his mid-30s and have the least questions in terms of level of play projection for 2019. The Jets wide receiver corps could be gutted for 2019 in lieu of new options with Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa free agents, either restricted or unrestricted. Brown, Tate, Moncrief, and Williams have been contributors this season and offer WR2/3 potential for new depth charts. Benjamin has never been much of a separator with his lagging athleticism but offers some reclamation project potential with a better passing game and quarterback combination from the 2018 version of the Bills.
- Randall Cobb
- Chris Hogan
- Adam Humphries
- Jermaine Kearse
- Cole Beasley
- David Moore (ERFA)
- Geronimo Allison
Cobb was a decent athlete coming into the NFL but has eroded swiftly in his mid-20s. Humphries and Beasley are other slot-centric options in the market. Kearse is an unspectacular stopgap veteran to bridge into a younger option by later in 2019 for an NFL team. Moore and Allison are younger options who flashed in 2018 but without much pedigree or production to warrant more than middling free agent attention in the offseason.
wildcards, NFL fringe
- Kevin White
- Phillip Dorsett
- Martavis Bryant
- Mike Wallace
- Dez Bryant
- Rishard Matthews
- Jordan Matthews
- Terrelle Pryor
Between middling older veteran producers, reclamation projects, and high-pedigree receivers yet to do much, this list will result in half of them likely seeing little to no interest in the opening days/weeks of 2019 NFL free agency. Dorsett has shown some resurgence with the Patriots with Julian Edelman out and Josh Gordon's snaps low early in the year. Jordan Matthews has flashed with the Eagles after falling nearly off the NFL map. Bryant suffered a brutal Achilles injury after passing on an earlier contract from Baltimore and now firmly on the NFL fringe to find any future interest for 2019. Pryor logged a 1,000-yard season on a horrible Browns team a few years ago but has faded significantly in probability for future impact over the past 12 months and may struggle to find a 2019 depth chart.
- Demaryius Thomas ($14 million cap hit, $0 million dead cap)
- Emmanuel Sanders ($13 million cap hit, $3 million dead cap)
- DeSean Jackson ($10 million cap hit, $0 million dead cap)
- Jordy Nelson ($7 million cap hit, $0 million dead cap)
- Cameron Meredith ($7 million cap hit, $2.75 million dead cap)
- Pierre Garcon (Club Option years remaining only)
- Allen Hurns, Travis Benjamin, Torrey Smith all as good as gone
Thomas' acquisition by Houston was a result of Will Fuller V's season-ending injury. The Texans have no reason to bring back Thomas in 2019 with a huge contract and no dead cap implications. Sanders is likely not returning to Denver under his current contract as Denver reshapes their team and wide receiver depth chart. Jackson looks to have athleticism left in the tank and his departure would be good news for Chris Godwin in 2019. Nelson, Meredith, Hurns, Benjamin, and Smith all look done in terms of impact potential and are low-level bridge options at best for 2019.
- Kenny Stills ($10 million cap hit, $3.5 million dead cap)
- Michael Crabtree ($9 million cap hit, $4.5 million dead cap)
Stills has eroded from trendy upside candidate in the offseason to barely averaging two receptions per game in 2018 and being a potential cap cut in the offseason. Stills would be between potential starter and depth option if cut by Miami of the above tiers. Crabtree is more likely to be cut in 2020 than this coming offseason, but the Ravens could be in system reboot mode if moving to Lamar Jackson and John Brown already a free agent. Crabtree was nothing more than a middling athlete even in his prime and he has lost a step in the past 12-18 months from there.
2019 wide receivers LANDING SPOTS
This tier includes depth charts with No. 1 receiver openings. They vary wildly in quarterback quality, but the sheer volume is present with all of these teams. The 49ers are the best combination of opportunity and quarterback level with the Raiders and Cardinals being in a similar boat.
This subset includes overt No. 2 roles being available with potential upside for a 1A/B opportunity. The quarterbacks are generally much better with this tier than the top tier of lead roles available above. The Broncos could be included in the top tier depending on the development of Courtland Sutton into 2019. The same could be said for Carolina with D.J. Moore, but they have developing former Round 2 pick Curtis Samuel has additional pedigree at the position. The Browns are intriguing as Jarvis Landry has shifted to looking more like a secondary option in 2018 than target-collecting lead option previously in Miami. The development track of David Njoku could impact the upside potential for a receiver landing in Cleveland as well over the next one or two seasons.
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