Realistic Landing Spot Predictions for Will Fuller V in 2021 NFL Free Agency
Will Fuller V might quietly be one of the best NFL free agents available this offseason.
The Houston Texans wideout, a first-round pick in 2016, had a tumultuous 2020 season that has shoved him under the radar a bit.
He was a staple of trade speculation prior to the Nov. 3 deadline before receiving a six-game suspension at the end of that month for a violation of the league's performance-enhancing substances policy after taking a prescribed medication he thought was permissible.
Fuller is just 26 years old, and over 11 appearances, he recorded career highs of 879 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 16.6 yards per catch. His combination of deep speed and explosiveness is one reason why Spotrac set his market value at $16.9 million per season, though some teams will shy away from paying him since he's only appeared in a maximum of 11 games in four of his five pro seasons.
Below, let's take a look at realistic landing spots for Fuller based on team need, fit and cap outlook.
The Miami Dolphins should be on the hunt for a wideout this offseason to help spur Tua Tagovailoa's development.
The team won 10 games in 2020 while rotating between veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa under center, and DeVante Parker led the team in receiving with 793 yards. The second-leading wideout, Jakeem Grant, managed just 373 yards.
Miami didn't hesitate to spend big in free agency last year, bringing in players like Byron Jones (five years, $82.5 million) and Kyle Van Noy (four years, $51 million). With the rebuild seemingly progressing quicker than expected, the franchise should do so again.
With a top-eight projected cap number, the front office should have some wiggle room to outbid other would-be suitors and get some of the big cap hits out of the way early in new contracts.
Most importantly, this is about Tagovailoa. He needs more reliable targets in his second year, and as the offense shifts toward stretching the field more as the quarterback develops, Fuller is an ideal guy to make plays deep.
Now might be the time for the Carolina Panthers to consider making a big splash at wideout.
They had a stellar trio of receivers in 2020, with DJ Moore leading the way with 1,193 yards and four touchdowns. Robby Anderson was close behind with 1,096 yards and three scores, while Curtis Samuel had 851 and three.
But Samuel is a free agent this offseason, and Anderson has just one year left on his deal. While the quarterback position remains a question mark after Teddy Bridgewater's so-so debut year with the team, it's clear the Panthers need to reload at wideout.
Fuller could be the answer, if not an upgrade on Samuel. Carolina is projected to have slightly above the league average in cap space, and the wideout would not only boost the offense but also possibly help the Panthers lure Deshaun Watson to town via trade.
Washington Football Team
The Washington Football Team is one of the most obvious candidates to make a splash at wideout.
After gunning for and nearly getting Amari Cooper last offseason, it's unlikely the team will stop trying to get a top-tier running mate for Terry McLaurin.
The 25-year-old has quietly blossomed into one of the best wideouts in the league, posting 1,118 yards and four touchdowns despite dealing with the quarterback carousel of Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke last year.
No matter who is under center in 2021, Fuller is the type of deep threat capable of better spacing the offense. Washington has a top-six cap number, so the front office can be competitive for a veteran in his prime who can make a difference instantly.
Whether the Colts actually spend that money is something worth watching, as they've been conservative with doing so in years past, but there's no doubt they will be emphasizing the wide receiver position this offseason.
T.Y. Hilton (762 yards and five touchdowns) and Zach Pascal (629 yards and five scores), the team's two leading receivers in 2020, are heading to free agency. If they don't bring one or both back, the Colts will be on the hunt to find a running mate for 2020 second-round pick Michael Pittman Jr.
Fuller would slot in well as a deep threat no matter who is under center following Philip Rivers' retirement. And no team on this list is in a better financial spot to make it happen.
Green Bay Packers
Had things worked out a little differently at the trade deadline last season, Fuller would already be a member of the Green Bay Packers.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Texans and Packers nearly agreed to a deal that would have sent Fuller to Green Bay before things fell apart.
It's not hard to figure out why the Packers would want Fuller. They have struggled to fill the No. 2 spot opposite Davante Adams for years. During a 13-win campaign in 2020, Adams posted 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns, while no other wideout hit the 700-yard mark.
Unlike other potential suitors, the Packers seemingly have a tough cap outlook at $31.9 million in the red. But that's fixable. They could work with Aaron Rodgers on a restructure or an extension, and some creativity (such as cutting Preston Smith to free up $8 million) could open up more space for them to be competitive for Fuller's services.
With the Packers having a need at the position and being in win-now mode, they might be the most appealing spot to Fuller too.