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Welker is a good bet to stay in New England but what if....?
There are some very interesting receivers in the middle of this pack, guys like Early Doucet, Robert Meachem and Steve Smith (Philly Steve, not Carolina Steve). Any guy like these will certainly play well as a depth receiver but have the upside to be more.
It's about more than numbers when it comes to how good a position's free-agent class is; it's about ability. You can have a ton of players and be weaker than a group with half the numbers but more ability.
The free-agent wide receivers have both.
While there are some players I can't see slipping away from their current teams, I don't see any locks beyond a guy like Wes Welker. Sure, the Patriots have a habit of letting pricey vets go, but Welker is different.
Welker is a guy who makes this offense far more than the sum of its parts, and honestly, he's too big a safety blanket for Tom Brady to see him go anywhere. If they let him go, it would be a huge mistake.
A guy like Marques Colston also seems like a good bet for either a franchise tag or some other big effort to keep him in the Big Easy. However, the Saints might need to choose between Colston and Meachem. Neither player has become irreplaceable, so it could come down to money, and Colston will earn more.
He is a player who could be successful just about anywhere, so expect some intense bidding if the Saints don't franchise him.
Reggie Wayne is another receiver who you would normally assume will see either a big contract or a franchise tag. However, the Colts look like they may be about to embark upon a big rebuild, and the question is, can Wayne get a big contract when the team has so many needs?
Also, with both Wayne and Pierre Garcon being free agents, can the Colts keep both? I think if they have to choose one, it will be Garcon, who is younger and perhaps more dynamic.
Dwayne Bowe rounds out the top of the class, and as is the case with Wayne and the Colts, you have to wonder how much a team like the Chiefs will invest in a player when they face a big rebuild. Bowe's attitude issues in the past are also a concern, and with Todd Haley now gone, how much tolerance will the franchise have with this mercurial wideout?
Bowe could make the circuit this offseason and find a new home. If he can keep his head on straight, he'll be a dynamic addition to many offenses.
Class Strength Assessment: Solid and Deep; some question marks, but lots of ability across multiple tiers.