Kenny Britt Carries Baggage, but He's the Best Free Agent WR Still on the Market

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMarch 18, 2014

Tennessee Titans' Kenny Britt (18) warms up before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

There was a time when Kenny Britt was considered one of the rising young wide receivers in the NFL, a superstar in the making.

That was 2010, but it feels like 1910. Since then, Britt's NFL career has come off the rails in spectacular fashion, three seasons of diminishing returns and increasing headaches.

However, with the free agents at wide receiver more picked-over than the Black Friday video games at Walmart, Britt is drawing interest from several NFL teams.

As Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer reports, the Carolina Panthers appear to be latest club to express interest in the five-year veteran:

Each of those teams is hoping that somewhere, stashed in all the baggage that Britt will carry to his new home, is the talent that once appeared sure to launch the 25-year-old to multiple Pro Bowls.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Kenny Britt 2009-10
YearGGSRec.YardsAvg.TDPFF Rank*
*Per Pro Football Focus

Back in 2009, the Tennessee Titans made Britt the 30th overall pick, and after a decent first season, Britt blossomed as a sophomore. Despite missing four games, he reeled in nine touchdown passes, and his 18.5 yards per catch ranked sixth in the league among players with over 40 receptions.

It looked like the sky was the limit, but it was actually as good as things would ever get.

In April of 2011, Britt was arrested after a high-speed chase with police. It was only one of number of arrests and run-ins with the law that have run the gamut from DUI to his connection with a stabbing and even a homicide.

In September of that same year, Britt tore his ACL in a game with the Denver Broncos. That would begin the litany of injuries that would cost Britt multiple games and limited him in numerous others.

Kenny Britt 2011-13
YearGGSRec.YardsAvg.TDPFF Rank*
*Per Pro Football Focus

By last year, things bottomed out. Britt, completely out of favor with the Titans staff, barely played. As ESPN's John Clayton pointed out, by December it was healthy-scratch time for Britt.

So marked the end of a tumultuous five years in Nashville for Britt, who is now peddling his wares on the open market.

On some level, it may seem odd that so many teams are lining up to take a look at Britt. After all, between his health and his past, Britt has more red flags than a Beijing souvenir shop.

Still, it's really not that hard to figure out.

Wade Payne/Associated Press

For starters, as I alluded to earlier, the once-solid free agent market at the wide receiver market has just about dried up. The Eric Deckers are gone. So are the Julian Edelmans. Even the Brandon LaFells have found new homes.

The options left at this point, such as Jerricho Cotchery and Lance Moore, don't exactly ooze upside.

And it's that upside that draws teams to Kenny Britt.

Even with five years of NFL experience under his belt, at 25 Britt is only now entering what would be the "prime" of his career. By his account his knees are fine, and last December Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean passed along Britt's word that 2014 will be different:

Mind you, that's a refrain we've heard before from Britt, but at this point the guaranteed money required to land Britt will probably be minimal. Minimal guaranteed money means minimal risk.

For his part, Britt doesn't appear to be in a huge hurry to sign on the dotted line:

In many ways that's smart. Britt's next team (his "second chance" so to speak), could be his last if things don't go any better in his new home than they did at the old one. He'll be cast onto the "million-dollar talent, 10-cent head" pile, and the NFL will move on.

Or, a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered, and the 6'3", 223-pound long-striding red-zone threat could wind up being the biggest steal of free agency this year.

It's that second possibility that has so many teams lining up for the Britt lottery.

That, and the fact a ticket shouldn't cost all that much.