It's not often that a slew of talented wide receivers hit the free-agent market, but the 2013 offseason could see four or five very dangerous playmakers available for teams in need of a wideout.
Some players—Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings—seem almost assured to move on. Others—Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe—could very well hit the market, but might be deemed too valuable by the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively, and will get big paydays with their current clubs.
One way or another, these four are the cream of the potential crop at the wideout position once free agency hits. Let's take a look at where they should go, and where they are most likely to end up.
Best Fit: Pittsburgh Steelers
Where He'll End Up: San Diego Chargers
If Wallace were smart, he would stay with the Steelers. But Wallace wants to get paid, and I highly doubt the Steelers will fork over $10 million or more per year to keep him. The days of Ben Roethlisberger bombing long touchdowns strikes to Wallace are likely over.
Losing Vincent Jackson really hurt the Chargers this season, Robert Meachem was a bust and Philip Rivers could use a true speedster to accompany Malcolm Floyd and Danario Alexander. New coach Mike McCoy would love to have a toy like Wallace to unleash deep.
Wallace could end up anywhere, but if he leaves the Steelers, the Chargers make a lot of sense.
Best Fit: Miami Dolphins
Where He'll End Up: Miami Dolphins
Head coach Joe Philbin will gladly reunite with Jennings, whom he coached when he was the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers. Don't expect Jennings to return to Green Bay—the Packers have plenty of weapons at wide receiver and won't pay Jennings what he'll want to stay.
The Dolphins will get a dangerous playmaker and smart veteran for young quarterback Ryan Tannehill to lean on. I would be surprised if this doesn't go down.
Best Fit: St. Louis Rams
Where He'll End Up: Kansas City Chiefs
The Rams are likely to bring Danny Amendola back, but this team doesn't have a "go up and get it" receiver on the roster. Or at least it doesn't have that type of receiver until Brian Quick develops.
However, I'd be surprised if Andy Reid and company let Bowe sign elsewhere. One thing Reid learned from his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles is that you need solid wide receivers to run his pass-heavy offense, and if he brings in a young quarterback, he'll want to surround that player with talent.
I don't see Bowe leaving this offseason. He'll give Kansas City another chance with a new regime in town.
Best Fit: New England Patriots
Where He'll End Up: New England Patriots
This will likely be a long, drawn-out contract negotiation, but Welker proved the Patriots are simply a much better offense when he's involved. Maybe Welker will decide he wants to go elsewhere, but few schemes or quarterbacks will better complement his skill set than the Patriots and Tom Brady.
It's hard to imagine Welker playing elsewhere. The Patriots will suffer without him, and Welker fits so naturally into what the team likes to do offensively. The only way Welker won't be back is if the team decides to make a run at a player like Mike Wallace, but I don't see that happening.
Welker will be back.