2011 NFL Free Agency: Top 5 Receivers Still Available for the Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have finally decided to stop being so frugal and spend some money this offseason.
This was a calculated move, plotted out by Panthers owner Jerry Richardson back in 2008 when the owners opted out of the labor agreement in place at the time. He decided that it was better to save money and protect the franchise.
During that time it has been a rough couple of years for Panthers fans. We suffered the Delhomme debacle in the 2009 playoffs, followed by a replay at the beginning of the 2009-2010 NFL season.
The Panthers have been at or near the bottom of the division the past two years.
We watched Julius Peppers hightail it to the Chicago Bears and suffered through a year of John Fox mailing it in as a head coach.
We have even had questionable draft picks over the past few years. But apparently Richardson’s goal was to make big changes once there was a new labor agreement in place. Since the end of last season their has been an abundance of change, including new head coach Ron Rivera, No. 1 draft pick Cam Newton and the signing of free agents Olindo Mare, TEs Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen and QB Derek Anderson.
For all of that change, one thing remains the same…we still don’t have a viable receiver outside of Steve Smith.
There are some decent receivers still on the market. Even though none of them may be franchise guys, the Panthers could do like the Philadelphia Eagles and give someone a trial one-year contract to see how things play out after this season.
No. 1: Braylon Edwards
Edwards made big strides playing alongside Santonio Holmes last year.
He is a big strong receiver and could give many CBs trouble, as he has a good burst off of the line.
One key asset is that he has become a better blocker on the edges, which could only help with Double Troubles running game.
He still has a knack for dropping passes at questionable times, but he can still be that deep threat that Carolina needs to keep teams from double-teaming Steve Smith.
He is in his prime and still has time to improve on the weak areas of his game.
He would be a great pickup if he does not end up in jail following the bar fighting incident.
No.2: Steve Smith
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The other Steve Smith.
At 5’11”, he is little bit taller than Carolina’s Steve Smith, but also provides another threat at receiver. He is also stronger than he looks, which again, could give some CBs trouble.
He’s an excellent route runner and is a deep threat as well; he proved this when he became Eli Manning’s top target following Plaxico Burress’ incarceration. Another positive is he can break tackles when out in the open, which leads to more yardage after the catch.
Like Edwards, he is willing to block and is consistent on the edges. This again is a plus up for the running game.
How they decide to put the two Smith’s names on the back of jerseys is another issue.
No. 3: Malcolm Floyd
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Floyd has proven himself as a capable receiver over the past few years. Plus, he’s entering his prime years and would be another great veteran to place opposite of Steve Smith.
He’s got great size. He stands 6’5” tall and weighs in at 225 lbs. At that size, he does a great job catching the ball in traffic and uses his height and length to catch the ball over smaller defenders.
With Cam Newton likely taking the reigns, Floyd would make a great asset, as he recognizes the coverage and likes to break off his route to help his QB out.
No. 4: T. J. Houshmandzadeh
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Although Houshmandzadeh is approaching 34 years old and is likely seeing his last few quality years, he would still be a valuable veteran pickup for the Panthers, even if it is to help bring the younger players along.
He still has quickness and the veteran know-how to set up defenders in order to get into great position to make the catch.
He is also great at finding the soft spots in zone coverages in order to get needed yardage.
For a team that is trying to find their footing at QB, Houshmandzadeh would be a decent pickup.
No. 5: Mark Clayton
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He's mainly on this list because he is a better receiver than what is left of receivers on the free agent market.
He’s more of a middle-tier receiver. There is nothing flashy about him, but he does get the job done on occasion. He would actually be a better fit at the slot receiver position rather than a No. 1 or No. 2 receiving option.
He does not have an explosive first step or breakaway speed, which is why he was not labeled as a deep ball threat.
He does have decent hands though, and for a team looking for more help at the receiver position, he could prove to be a valuable pickup.