Wide receivers are becoming very important to NFL offenses, and a few free-agent receivers are looking to get a lot of money this offseason.
The NFL continues to move toward being more of a passing league each season, and wideouts have become more and more valuable.
Last year Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon and others received huge paydays as teams looked to add a playmaker on the outside. The crop of players at that position is even better this year.
Here are the top receivers that should be available in free agency.
5. Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
Both the St. Louis Rams and Danny Amendola would like him to return to the team next year, but the organization might have doubts about signing a player with his injury history, according to Nick Wagoner on the team's official site.
However, there are many teams that would love to have Amendola's services next season.
He didn't have many yards, but he led the Rams with 63 catches despite only playing parts of 11 games. He was a solid option and was usually in the right place when needed, finishing with 38 receptions for a first down.
Out of the slot, Amendola is a perfect safety net for any quarterback in the league.
4. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
In most years, Greg Jennings would be near the top of anyone's list of the best players available. However, this is a very deep group at the position.
Over the first six years of his career, Jennings averaged 1,029 yards and over eight touchdowns per season. This season, though, he dealt with injuries and was only able to manage 366 yards in eight games.
The emergence of Randall Cobb and James Jones makes him expendable on Green Bay's roster.
On the other hand, the production of these two players does a little to hurt Jennings. They showed that almost anyone can have a good year in that offense with Aaron Rodgers throwing the football.
Jennings does not do anything spectacular on the football field and is now an injury risk. He has only played all 16 games in three of seven seasons.
For teams looking for a great impact player, there are better receivers available.
3. Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Few players have been as consistent over the years as Wes Welker. In five of the last six years, he has over 100 catches and 1,000 receiving yards.
The fact that he is now over 30 years old has not slowed him down at all either. This year, he finished second in the league in receptions and he led the NFL with 619 yards after the catch.
His ability to turn short routes into long gains is one thing that makes him incredibly valuable.
Still, the big issue is whether he would be able to continue this type of production without Tom Brady throwing him the ball.
However, his numbers have been consistent even when he was with the Miami Dolphins. He had the same percentage of catches per target in 2006 as 2012 with just over one yard per catch separating the two.
With enough targets, Welker will shine wherever he plays.
2. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
In a down year, Dwayne Bowe was victim to poor quarterback play. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined to have the worst passing offense in the league with 169.6 yards per game and an 8-20 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
The fact that Bowe was able to even get 801 receiving yards out of that mess is nothing short of a miracle.
When his quarterback performs up to reasonable expectations, Bowe has been great. In 2010, he finished with a league-high 15 touchdowns catches.
He has solid size, but more importantly has great leaping ability with the body control to make tough catches in the air. Simply put, he is a quarterback's best friend as someone who turns incomplete passes into touchdowns.
Bowe will like to get away from the team that held him down over the past couple of years, so some other team could be in luck this offseason.
1. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Even though Mike Wallace struggled throughout the season, he still managed to be near the top of the league with eight touchdown catches.
In addition, his numbers were skewed when Ben Roethlisberger went down with an injury and Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch struggled in his absence.
Over the four games where Roethlisberger either did not play or did not finish the game, Wallace averaged 22.7 receiving yards per game. In other games, he was able to get 67.7 yards per game. Over a 16-game season, this rate puts him over 1,000 yards for the year.
Wallace is one of the best big-play threats in the NFL. He can beat defenders deep with regularity and can change games with one catch. It was only two years ago that he led the league in receptions over 20 yards.
He is the youngest player on this list and still has plenty of time left in his prime years. Wallace is the best option for teams looking to upgrade this offseason.
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