The NFL offseason is in full swing with free-agency moves and draft discussions aplenty.
Teams that struggled in 2012 will look to add as much as possible to improve their rosters, while teams that made deep playoff runs search for the missing piece to propel them to the next level.
Some of the free-agent decisions thus far have made big headlines, especially the choices made by wide receivers. But a couple of trades involving pass-catchers dwarfed the unexpected free-agent signings and caused the NFL community to start predicting Super Bowl winners in March.
There were three transactions that involved wide receivers that will have a major impact on the 2013 NFL season.
Here we'll break them down.
The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings agreed to a trade that sent Harvin to Seattle earlier this month, and the winds of Super Bowl favoritism shifted toward the Pacific Northwest.
The Seahawks had a dangerous offense last year, led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch. Wilson turned heads with his maturity and poise, and his high level of play, mixed with Lynch’s “beast-mode” running style, catapulted Seattle into the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Now Wilson has a multidimensional weapon at his disposal in Harvin.
Harvin is an explosive athlete that can play all over the field. Last season, he played in nine games for the Vikings and racked up 677 receiving yards, 574 kickoff return yards, 96 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. He gives the Seahawks a wild card on offense.
With Harvin in the receiving fold alongside former teammate Sidney Rice, and Wilson having a year of NFL experience under his belt, the Seahawks could have one of the scariest offenses in the league in 2013.
Welker tested the waters of free agency and made a splash by signing with the Denver Broncos, and with this move, the power in the AFC may have shifted from Massachusetts to Colorado.
However, the decision was not easy for Welker. He said that parting ways with quarterback Tom Brady was the hardest part in leaving New England (via ESPN). But moving from Brady to Peyton Manning is not a demotion. On the contrary, Welker should thrive in Denver with Manning.
He will be able to sneak under defenses and pick up a ton of first downs as a check-down man. Last season, he hauled in 118 receptions for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns.
Welker will be added to an offense that relies heavily on Manning’s arm. He joins wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker to form what could be the league’s best receiving corp.
Manning passed for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns last season. Will the addition of Welker add more yards and scores to his total?
Manning could care less what his stats are in 2013. He'll have a hard enough time trying to decide which receiver to distribute the ball to. With a full stable of targets to choose from, Manning and the Broncos should be the favorites in the AFC.
The Baltimore Ravens may have defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, but the 49ers will come away from the offseason with former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin. The Ravens traded Boldin to San Francisco after the veteran wideout refused to take a put cut to stay with the team.
Boldin is a big, strong receiver that will fight for the ball when it’s in the air. His determination was at its best display during last year’s playoffs. Boldin pulled in 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns on the Ravens’ quest to the Super Bowl.
He gives third-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick an elite target to throw to besides wideout Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Kaepernick and Crabtree will benefit from learning from an experienced player like Boldin. Crabtree said he was excited about the addition of the veteran receiver (via Dan Hanzus, NFL.com)
The acquisition of a reliable and experienced receiver is just the thing the 49ers needed to push its offense to the next level. With Boldin in the fold, the offensive possibilities are endless for San Francisco.