While Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning have dominated the football talk amid the beginning of the free-agency period, it has been the transitioning of many high-caliber wide receivers switching teams that have been more voluminous in activity.
Wide receivers by nature are a mercurial bunch, and the news they make on and off the field never cease to amaze us. So, why then would the free-agency period be anything more than a non-stop parade of wide receivers changing teams?
So, let’s jump in and look at the 10 most intriguing wide receivers who are changing teams and what their roles will look like come next September.
With the way the Bucs struggled last year, an infusion of talent was needed to jump-start the franchise. Enter Jackson.
Jackson had a good thing going for him with Phil Rivers in San Diego, and he may have a hard time replicating the numbers he put up in San Diego with the Bucs. First off, the Bucs offense is more predicated on the run. Secondly, Josh Freeman has not exactly blossomed into an elite quarterback yet.
It may take some time for Jackson to gel with Freeman and the rest of the Bucs, but he still does possess elite receiving skills and is worthy of drafting in the middle rounds of drafts.
This is a move that makes sense for both parties.
In New York, Manningham was never going to be more than a third option (playing behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz). Now Manningham will have the benefit of getting the lion’s share of targets from Alex Smith.
Although he didn’t have the luxury of Peyton Manning throwing him the ball last year, Garcon had quite the year nonetheless, with 70 receptions, 947 yards and six touchdowns.
Now Garcon will (likely) pair up with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, and that could be a match that could work. RG3 will have to rely on some veterans to make it through the terrain of being a rookie quarterback, and hooking up with Garcon will make his job easier.
Garcon should have a slightly more productive year in 2012 than he did in 2011.
The Jaguars needed someone to throw the ball to, and Robinson was the best receiver they could reel in.
Robinson had a breakout 2011 campaign with the Cowboys, hauling in 54 receptions for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. Robinson benefited from the extra playing time that was there for him when Miles Austin and Dez Bryant had to miss time due to injuries. Robinson parlayed that success into a fat new contract.
While Robinson will have the benefit of being the Jaguars’ No. 1 option in the passing game, you have to remember that the unproven Blaine Gabbert will be his quarterback. So, expect some inconsistency. Plus, Robinson has a history with injuries.
Seemingly to fill the void left with the departure of Vincent Jackson, Meachem will try to step in and contribute immediately for the Chargers.
Meachem’s role with the Chargers will be in contrast to that which he had in New Orleans. Meachem goes from being just a nominal target for Drew Brees to perhaps a heavy target for Phil Rivers.
Meachem should see a slight bump in fantasy value going into the 2012 season.
Competing with Meachem for targets in San Diego will be Royal, who has teased fantasy owners with his God-given talent for years.
Royal will have a new lease on life and a competent quarterback for the first time in his career.
Royal should be primed for a breakout season, and is a legitimate sleeper to target in the late rounds of fantasy drafts.
Although he was not a free-agent pick-up, Marshall getting traded to the Bears was one of the biggest headlines so far in the offseason.
Marshall will once again be reunited with Jay Cutler, and the two have chemistry together. The Bears badly needed a weapon in the passing game, and with Marshall they now have it.
If Marshall is not punished for his off-the-field issues, then he can be in line for one of his better seasons in years.
Trying to make a splash and go all-in in their quest to reach the Super Bowl, the 49ers took the ultimate risk in signing Moss.
While Moss is still gifted athletically, he is 35 years old and has been out of football since 2010 (and some would argue he checked out earlier than that). Moss is your classic boom-or-bust signing, and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh thinks he can get the ego-maniacal Moss to play nice.
There are just too many question marks to think this can work out. Many thought (myself included) Chad Ochocinco signing with the Patriots last summer would revitalize his career, but he turned out to be the ultimate bust. This signing looks like it could be a repeat of that.
This union looks like a match made in heaven.
Lloyd will simultaneously hook up with his old coach in Josh McDaniels (who coached him to his best year in 2010), while also being the recipient of passes being thrown to him by a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady.
If Floyd can’t thrive in New England, then where else would he? With that said, Floyd seems poised to have a fantastic rebound season.
So long as he is healthy, Smith signing with the Rams could be a blessing in disguise.
With the Rams not boasting an elite group of receivers, Smith has the chance to make his mark in St. Louis. Smith is a great possession receiver, and you could easily see Sam Bradford look his way on many occasions.
Smith was looking like an elite receiver with the Giants before he got hurt, and two years after an injury to his knee, maybe this is the year Smith turns it around.
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