Free agency is a time when teams get a chance to strengthen their rosters, and those seeking offensive playmakers will get plenty of chances with this year’s wide receivers.
While it is entirely possible that some of these guys may return to their teams from last season, it is not likely for most.
A lot goes into the deciding process for these guys; they want a team where they’ll be most comfortable, while getting the contract they want and think they deserve. While sometimes it is a tough outing for guys to get every penny they would like to be earning, there will be teams who will break the bank.
Here are the best landing spots for the “big four” receivers in this year’s free-agency market.
Dwayne Bowe, Minnesota Vikings
His best season came in 2010 when he reeled in 72 catches for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns. While he had a tough 2012 season statistically, a large part of the blame falls on the abomination that was the Chiefs’ quarterback situation.
Despite a down year last season, Bowe is still better than most receivers in the NFL.
With tons of teams searching for a legitimate number one receiver, Bowe will have his pick of where he will end up. The team that makes most sense as of right now is the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings are definitely weak at the receiver position and with a disgruntled Percy Harvin begging to be traded, Bowe would make a ton of sense. It would give young quarterback Christian Ponder much help on the outside and would instantly upgrade the Vikes offense.
Most of Ponder’s highlights have been when he’s handing the ball off to the league’s MVP in Adrian Peterson, but he would surely do better with Bowe at his side. Minnesota has been missing a big, physical presence at the receiver position since the loss of Sidney Rice a couple of years ago and Bowe would certainly bandage that loss.
Minnesota was a playoff team with one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL; imagine what they could do with a guy like Bowe suiting up for them.
Mike Wallace, San Diego Chargers
Wallace is arguably the best deep-threat receiver in the NFL. His blazing speed makes him a nightmare for most anyone covering him.
While many consider him to be a one-trick pony because of his many long-ball highlights, Wallace is certainly one of the league’s better receivers. He is one of those guys that fits perfectly in an air-it-out offense, and not many teams like to pass the ball more than the San Diego Chargers.
With Philip Rivers at the helm, the Chargers would be incredibly explosive on offense with the addition of Wallace. Especially with the hiring of Mike McCoy as their new head coach, don’t be surprised if the Chargers have a top offense in 2013.
McCoy, former offensive coordinator of the divisional rival Broncos, is one of the better offensive minds in football these days. He would certainly have a lot of fun with his offense if he could bring in a guy like Wallace.
The Chargers’ receiving corps was near the bottom of the barrel last year with no clear-cut number one guy. Add in Wallace, and there’s a recipe for a big passing offense.
Not since Dan Fouts and the Air Coryell offense have the Bolts been a superior passing offense, but keep an eye out for them next year. If the Chargers are to bring in Wallace then the big play will be back in San Diego. Who knows, maybe they’ll call it “Air McCoy.”
Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Welker is one of the more intriguing prospects of this year's free-agent group. While he has had some amazing years in New England, questions arise as to whether he really is that good, or rather a systematic player.
While the whole reason he is becoming a free agent is because of his contract disputes with the Patriots’ front office, there is a good chance he will stay right where he’s been for the past few years.
He will not find a better quarterback to play with than Tom Brady, and likely will not be on a team that contends for a Super Bowl every year like the Patriots. While Welker would surely like a huge new contract, it would be best for him to stay put and accept a smaller deal.
He has been the Patriots’ most invaluable offensive weapon over the past few years and they need him like he needs them.
While it isn’t as exciting or interesting as if he went to another team, the best place for Welker to play is right where he is now.
Greg Jennings, Miami Dolphins
Jennings is already familiar with the Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin from their days together in Green Bay and he also fills a huge need.
The Dolphins have had success with reuniting former players and their old coaches in the past; just look at Ryan Tannehill and Mike Sherman. While it’s not like Tannehill had an amazing season last year, he did play well enough in the offense to beat out veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard.
Bringing in Jennings could be exactly what the Dolphins need to take the next step in the AFC East. They have a good defense and a solid running game (even if they lose Reggie Bush); add in Jennings and that’s a pretty good offense. He would not only bring a veteran presence and sense of leadership, but also good production for a guy who turns 30 in September.
The addition of Jennings would play a big role in the development of Tannehill and would likely benefit the 'Fins in terms of ticket sales as well. It seems as though it is inevitable for Jennings to become a Dolphin, and it could be the best free-agent signing of this offseason.