The upcoming group of NFL free agents leaves a lot to be desired. Very few positions feature depth, which will make it tough to upgrade through the open market this offseason. One area that bucks that trend is wide receiver.
The wideout group is strong with around 10 players capable of being signed and making a significant impact on a new team. Teams will be forced to identify which ones will best fit their offensive plans before diving into the market.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the top three wide receivers that will be available if they don't end up on the franchise tag list. They should be able to excel in just about any offense.
1. Dwayne Bowe
A quick glance at Bowe's numbers this season would make it seem like he's entering free agency at the wrong time. The Kansas City Chiefs star totaled just 801 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games, which amounts to the second-worst season of his six-year career.
However, when you consider the quarterbacks he was working with–Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn–the lackluster stats become a lot easier to understand. If Bowe was being targeted by a legitimate NFL-level starter, the numbers would be a lot better.
Bowe possesses good size at 6'2'', isn't afraid to make the tough plays over the middle to move the chains and is still just 28, meaning teams can feel confident he's got several productive seasons left. If he lands in a better offense, his numbers will skyrocket.
Which of these WRs is the best FA target?
2. Greg Jennings
A groin injury held Jennings back for most the of season. Once he did return, he was met with a stacked Green Bay Packers receiving corps, which made it difficult for him to get back up to his usual level of production.
Since the Packers do have so many options on the outside, it would be a surprise if they decided to bring him back. Even though Jennings tallied over 400 catches since being drafted by the team in 2006, there are bigger needs to fill.
That's good news for teams looking for a receiver. Jennings should be completely over his groin issue by the start of next season, which will allow him to get back to his usual playmaking self down the field. He's capable of being a No. 1 WR.
3. Wes Welker
Welker would be No. 1 if this list was based purely on production. The slot receiver has amassed over 100 catches in five of the past six seasons for the New England Patriots. His connection with Tom Brady has made him almost unstoppable.
There are obvious questions about how he would perform outside of New England, though. The Patriots clearly have a tremendous system in place. It puts Welker in situations where he's bound to succeed and he's got an elite QB throwing him the ball.
Whether he would be able to post such eye-popping numbers elsewhere is debatable. That said, he's the league's most reliable slot target and would find a way to make plays anywhere. The Patriots will have to make a tough decision about bringing him back. He might be too important to lose.