NFL Free Agency: Why It's Time to Start Signing Wide Receivers in Bulk

Harry Orbach MillerContributor IIIMarch 2, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  (L-R) Mario Manningham #82, Hakeem Nicks #88 and Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants walk back ot the sideline in the fourth quarter after Manningham scored a 17-yard touchdown against the af during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Super Bowl is over.

The combine has come and gone.

Now, the only thing standing between NFL executives and April's draft is free agency. This year's wide receiver crop is one of the best we've seen in years.

There are a number of proven, legitimate, number one receivers set to hit the market. The likes of which include Mike Wallace, Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson, Stevie Johnson and Marques Colston. They are excellent wide receivers and would provide an upgrade to almost any team in the league.

The problem is that they are not worth it. They are simply too expensive.

If you want to look at the amount of money some of these receivers are going to get, you should look no farther than the previous big wide receiver contracts in the last few years.

Both Brandon Marshall and Santonio Holmes signed five years worth an average of about 10 million a season, and with about $24 million guaranteed.

Additionally, Sidney Rice, who wasn't nearly as proven when he signed his contract, agreed with the Seahawks on a deal for four years with a total value of $41 million.

With the NFL salary cap projected to be around $120 million this season, does it really make sense to spend a 12th of the cap for just one player. Maybe for some teams, but not on a position where depth is equally as important as star power.

Living proof of that was the New York Giants' Super Bowl run this past season.

They didn't win by having one stud wide receiver, they had three really, really good ones in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. Because they had depth, there was not one player defences could key in on, which allowed Eli Manning to pick them apart.

According to the Washington Post, the franchise tag, which the Eagles recently placed on DeSean Jackson, is valued at approximately $9.4 million for the upcoming season. This number gives us a good approximation of what a top receiver will cost in the NFL.

The Giants victory proved you need not one good receiver, but two, and preferably three. So, instead of spending big money on one star receiver, buy your entire receiving core for roughly the same price.

This year there are many good receivers on the market who won't cost you an arm and a leg. For roughly $5 million a player, you could probably sign Laurent Robinson, Mario Manningham and Robert Meachem.

That gives you three good receivers for only $5 million more than one stud.

Throw in Steve Smith, whose coming off a injury-plagued season, who will be available at minimal cost. Then, maybe Randy Moss, in a "Manny Ramirez-esque" move and you have a pretty imposing wide receiver corps.

Other options are Plaxico Buress, Greg Camarillo, Harry Douglas, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garçon, Eric Weems and Brandon Lloyd.

The point is that every single general manager in the league has options. Sure signing that star free agent may look sexy and excite a fan base, it's time for league executives to start buying their wide receivers in bulk.

It's cheaper that way, and maybe surprisingly, more effective.