NFL Free Agency 2013: Most Dangerous WRs Available
The wide receiver position has made many of the headlines since the start of NFL free agency. San Francisco acquired Anquan Boldin from Baltimore and Minnesota traded Percy Harvin to Seattle even before free agency began. Then Mike Wallace left the Steelers and signed in Miami for five years and $60 million, according to USA Today.
Despite three big names being scooped up very quickly, there is still a good amount of talent at wide receiver. There are two elite receivers available and two others that have the potential to be the best receiver on a team. Here are the best remaining receivers.
Darrius Heyward-Bey was taken No. 7 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, and he has struggled in his early career to meet expectations that have come from being a top-10 pick.
Oakland fell in love with Heyward-Bey’s speed—he ran a sub-4.3 40-yard dash—and drafted him ahead of Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin. He struggled to adjust to the NFL, however, and dealt with injuries in his first two seasons, catching just 35 passes for 490 yards and two touchdowns.
Over the past two seasons, Heyward-Bey has become a very solid NFL wideout with 105 receptions for 1,581 yards and nine touchdowns during that time.
A team will take a chance on Heyward-Bey because of his athleticism and the fact that he is just 26 years old. In the right system and with a good quarterback, he could become a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
Before a groin injury forced him to miss half of the 2012 season, Greg Jennings was known as one of the best wideouts in the NFL.
From 2007 to 2011, Jennings averaged 69 receptions, 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns per season. He is a legitimate big-play threat, averaging 15.4 yards per reception over the course of his career.
Any team looking at Jennings will take pause after his major injury, but he should be able to recover well as he is still only 29. If he regains his health, Jennings should still be a 1,000-yard receiver.
Victor Cruz has been one of the top receivers in the NFL since bursting onto the scene in 2011. The former undrafted free agent has become one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL and is likely to be paid as such.
Over the last two seasons Cruz has averaged 84 receptions, 1,314 yards and 9.5 touchdowns. He was better statistically in 2011, but his performance in 2012 was still excellent by NFL standards.
One of the biggest pluses with Cruz is that he is just 26 and may still be developing as a receiver. He has played in all 32 games the last two seasons so teams should have faith that he can stay healthy in the future.
The top remaining available receiver in free agency, and the best slot receiver in the league, is Wes Welker. At 31, Welker is still playing at an elite level, with 118 catches for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns in the second-best season of his career.
While some may question his ability to be successful without Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, Welker has been incredibly reliable during his time with New England. He had at least 111 receptions and 1,100 yards in five of his six seasons with the team. He also averaged 112 catches and 1,243 yards per season over that span.
Welker may not be the downfield receiving threat that Mike Wallace is, but his ability to make plays from the slot is something that no other receiver can offer.