Best Ranked Wide Receivers in NFL Free Agency

Most of the notable wide receivers in NFL Free Agency have signed on to new teams, including Jeremy Maclin, Andre Johnson, Eddie Royal, Harry Douglas, Michael Crabtree and Denarius Moore.  And some, like Randall Cobb, returned to their previous home.  But there are a few noteworthy wide receivers left, including some from the first ever NFL Veteran Combine. So let Football Garbage Time give you a hand as we rank and compile information on the top wide receivers available in free agency!

1) Hakeem Nicks

The Star Photo - NFL Free Agency

The Star Photo

Nicks has definitely lost a step.  With the Colts in 2014, he only had 38 receptions for 405 yards with 4 touchdowns. Nicks commented on NFL.com about his regression in New York:

“I think in New York, I was just having injury after injury, and I think I just wasn’t taking care of it the right way. I just kept trying to play through them instead of being patient and sitting and let it heal…. Now, I am extremely healthy. Looking back on it now, I think that’s something that I just had to go through. My body was adjusting.”

Unfortunately, the same sources as above noted that there isn’t much market of Nicks either, which is surprising seeing as how there are numerous teams who could still use veteran wide receiver help.  I agree that with Nicks that he’s not “finished”:

But finding the right fit might be challenging. It was reported though that Nicks would be visiting the San Francisco 49ers:

And it turns out it wasn’t just a meet-and-greet:

He could be a third or fourth wide receiver there, but would not have a large role in light of Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, and wouldn’t appear to be a good fit.  On the other hand, Nicks also met with the Titans:

And this could be a better place to land.  With Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter and newly acquired Harry Douglas, having a solid WR4 that has proven talent as a WR2 could be beneficial if the Titans move on with selecting a quarterback in the draft.  On the flipside, Nicks might languish on the bench if the Titans stick with Zach Mettenberger.  Mettenberger has been decidedly average with a Passer Rating of 83.4, totaling only 8 touchdowns to 7 interceptions in six starts (seven games played).  And Mettenberger already appears to prefer Wright, targeting him at least 5 times in every game started.  It might be challenging for Nicks to find targets in Tennessee without a new quarterback.

2) Reggie Wayne

AP Photo - NFL Free Agency

AP Photo

As I’ve already mentioned, Wayne is a surefire first Ballot Hall of Famer.  But the big question is whether he’ll want to come back next year since he won’t be playing for the Colts.  Wayne loves the Colts, and basically all of Indianapolis loves Wayne:

And they even put this great banner on Lucas Oil Stadium:

I wrote that he should go to the Browns, but his desire to spend his last year with a contender, and the signing of Dwayne Bowe, will likely lead him to another team.  Although the Vikings may be a contender, depending in part on whether Adrian Peterson returns, it’s been noted that Wayne wouldn’t be a good fit for the Vikings in light of the Mike Wallace signing.

Up to this point, there’s been a real dearth of news regarding where Wayne might end up.  But at least we know he still wants to play:

The question remains though whether any team wants him to play.  At least he’s staying busy:

3) Greg Jennings

As of several weeks ago, Greg Jennings was released from by the Minnesota Vikings.

Apparently, Jennings had minor elbow surgery, but will not have any issues moving forward:

However, there have not been any interest around the NFL as of yet.  Jennings did, however, say that he would be amenable to going back to the Packers.

But before going there, looks like Jennings will get a look from the Miami Dolphins, which would be interesting as the Dolphins could use a veteran presence:

Jennings also visited with the Carolina Panthers a week ago, another potential landing spot that may make sense seeing as how they only have the likes of Ted Ginn Jr., Jericho Cotchery and Jarrett Boykin starting.  Certainly, a reliable veteran presence could be useful in Carolina. And on April 1, Jennings posted this…

…which ended up being an April Fools joke.  Hey, what’s wrong with having a sense of humor?  And aren’t the kids cute? Jennings, did, however visit with the Dolphins, who could definitely use a veteran presence at WR3.

And now Jennings will visit with the Jaguars:

Of the two, the Jaguars could be the better fit for Jennings.  As noted, the Jaguars have one of the youngest receiving corps with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee.  A veteran presence like Jennings, someone who runs disciplined routes and yet knows how to help his quarterback buy time, may be exactly what the Jaguars need to help Blake Bortles reach his potential. Unfortunately, though, with the decreased productivity (he had only 742 yards, the only time he had less than 1000 yards while playing all 16 games in a season), it’s no sure thing that Jennings will be an asset.  But a team needy for a veteran presence could do a lot worse.

UPDATE – 4/14/15 – 3:52 PM: Jennings will be visiting with the Saints, who could use some receiving help after losing Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills.

4) Wes Welker

Wes Welker - NFL Free Agency

Getty Images

I really struggled with Wes Welker, because his production in Denver dropped off so much from previous years in New England.  In two seasons with the Broncos, Welker has totaled just 1,242 yards and 12 touchdowns.  We can’t blame the quarterback, as Peyton Manning is still near the top of his game and has made monsters out of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.  What we can be concerned with are the number of concusions Welker has sustained over the last two years.  In fact, there were rumors that Welker might retire for safety reasons.  Of course, Welker quickly cleared that up stating that he was not considering retiring and that he was “[j]ust getting ready for 2015.”

Welker basically generated little interest, but some reports indicated that the Green Bay Packers might have interest.  But it’s been all quiet from Packers camp since.

Welker did, however, visit with the Miami Dolphins:

But Welker left without a contract.  Either way, it’s unclear what role he would play in Miami since Jarvis Landry is the future at the slot there.  It’s going to be a tough off season for Welker, but I think he could provide some veteran depth or potentially help develop a WR draft pick.

The Veteran Combine

As we noted previously, the first ever Veteran Combine gave us few additional options at wide receiver.  Even Shawne Merriman agreed it was a good opportunity for all the wayward talent out there: Shawne Merriman - Veterans Combine And of course, we saw one of our suggestions, Nathan Slaughter get signed out of the Veteran Combine by the Arizona Cardinals.  The other is still out there, and he certainly can be an intriguing pick up for a team willing to gamble in the off season.

Tukashi Kurihara

Kurihara, 27, was invited to the Ravens rookie camp two years ago, but didn’t make it farther than that.  He totaled 614 yards and six touchdowns in 8 games for the IBM Big Blue of Japan’s X League last season and was previously awarded the MVP of the Kanto collegiate league in 2009 for the Hosei University Tomahawks.  As we noted previously, he had a decent 40 at the Veteran Combine and has definitely drawn attention from commentators, including one on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ site, who believes he could be an asset in the NFL. And during the Veteran Combine, it appears at least the Chicago Bears were at least somewhat interested in using Kurihara as a slot receiver:

“Three of us were asked by (a Chicago Bears official) to run from the slot, because we were only required to run outside routes (in the combine). We ran in-and-out routes and out-and-in routes like Wes Welker (of the Denver Broncos) always does. We did that about six, seven times.”

Keep it tuned in throughout the off season and we’ll continue to keep you updated!

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

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