Best Available Wide Receivers in NFL Free Agency – Part 2

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

Last time, I discussed my trepidation concerning the new Ghostbusters movie.  And yes, I’m still a little worried.  But perhaps more importantly, I discussed the best WRs to acquire in free agency.

And as promised, let’s now take a look at some potential upside WR acquisitions and some veteran WRs that might be helpful.

Tier 2 – Upside Acquisitions

Bottom line is that there is significant risk with acquiring any of these WRs.  But the payoff can be huge, and for some teams looking to take a chance, there may be some serious value here.

Jermaine Kearse
Jermaine Kearse - Getty Images

Jermaine Kearse – Getty Images

  • Age: 26
  • Previous Team: Seattle Seahawks
  • 2015 Season Stats
    • 895 snaps
    • 49 receptions
    • 685 yards
    • 5 TDs

Kearse has been a mixed bag over the years in Seattle.  He had only one 100+ yard game during the 2015 regular season, and most weeks looked like the typical WR3, but then stepped up huge in the playoffs.  He snagged 11 of 15 targets for 110 yards and two TDs in the Seahawks’ Divisional Round loss to the Panthers, including beating the much hyped Josh Norman for one of his TDs.  He showed the same upside the previous year in the playoffs against the Panthers, piling up 129 yards and a TD.  This is the upside that a team would hope to acquire if they landed Kearse.  Kearse won’t be as pricey to acquire as the four I discussed in the last article, and he has plenty of years ahead of him.  Put in a good WR2 position with a decent QB, there’s reason to believe he could get some consistency.  Definitely worth the risk.

James Jones
James Jones

James Jones

  • Age: 32
  • Previous Team: Green Bay Packers
  • 2015 Season Stats
    • 1205 snaps
    • 50 receptions
    • 890 yards
    • 8 TDs

Consistency was definitely not Jones’ thing.  He had 8 games under 50 yards and 3 games over 100 yards.  In fact he had 2 games with 0 yards and only caught 50% of his targets, but still managed to total 8 TDs on the season.  In all honesty, his “success” is most likely due to the system in Green Bay, as he had a less than stellar year in Oakland in 2014 with just 666 yards, and failed to even make the Giants 53-man roster last season.  But he still has some legs (particularly when inexplicably wearing a hoodie under his jersey for much of the end of the season), and his price tag won’t be too high.  He’s worth a flyer for teams looking for a WR2/3 behind an existing solid WR1.  And he recently told Josina Anderson that he thinks he can play 3 more years.

That might be a bit of stretch, but 1-2 years is reasonable and probably worth the gamble.

Brandon LaFell
Brandon LaFell

Brandon LaFell

  • Age: 29
  • Previous Team: New England Patriots
  • 2015 Season Stats
    • 757 snaps
    • 37 receptions
    • 515 yards
    • 0 TDs
Yeah, he was basically bust in 2015 suffering from a foot injury that caused him to miss the first 5 games of the season and from a serious case of the dropsies (only catching 50% of his targets).  Remember, though, he’s just one year removed from 74 receptions, 953 yards and 7 TDs, catching over 62% of his targets.  He was benched by the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, and was ultimately cut, but he still has potential.  He can be acquired at a discount and is still 29.  I can’t see a team building around him, but he’s an upside acquisition as a WR2/3.

Tier 3 – Veteran Presence

None of these WRs should be signed to play regularly.  But as a veteran presence in the locker room and part time scheme dependent play, there can be some benefit.  I’d think these WRs are better targets for teams looking to build their WR core from the draft of with younger players.  Plus, at this point of their careers, short 1 year incentive laden contracts could make them a real value.  Steve Smith was able to find a revival at 34 and 35 years old, so why not these WRs?

Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson

  • Age: 35
  • Previous Team: Indianapolis Colts
  • 2015 Season Stats
    • 723 snaps
    • 41 receptions
    • 503 yards
    • 4 TDs

I feel bad for Johnson.  He had plenty of great seasons on a bad Houston Texans team with subpar QB play.  In fact, he had seven 1,000+ yard seasons in Houston.  Then he finally had an opportunity to move on to the Colts, and Andrew Luck gets injured, leaving him on the receiving end of passes from Matt Hasselbeck.  He’s getting up there at 35 years old, but he’s been pretty durable as of late only missing one game in the last 4 years.  He was released by the Colts, and should come at a massive discount.  And besides, he still believes he can play too:

“I am playing, there’s no question about that. I know I can still play this game. … I’m not discouraged about what happened this past season, I’m just waiting for an opportunity.”

Motivation and determination on the cheap?  I’m fairly certain some team will take a chance on him.

Roddy White
Reddy White

Roddy White

  • Age: 34
  • Previous Team: Atlanta Falcons
  • 2015 Season Stats
    • 944 snaps
    • 43 receptions
    • 506 yards
    • 1 TD

White has said numerous times that OC Kyle Shanahan was the reason for his down year.  Maybe that’s a fact and maybe it isn’t. What’s definitely a fact is that White had six 1000+ yard seasons in Atlanta and has previously been a solid WR1.  Perhaps that’s no longer in the cards, but I think he still has some gas left in the tank, and motivation to show Atlanta that they made a mistake releasing him.  Receiver needy teams should take note and take advantage.

Marques Colston
Marques Colston - Getty Images

Marques Colston – Getty Images

  • Age: 33
  • Previous Team: New Orleans Saints
  • 2015 Season Stats
    • 580 snaps
    • 45 receptions
    • 520 yards
    • 4 TDs

I have to say that I’m least sure about Colston’s potential.  He looked relatively slow and lacked his signature good hands in 2015.  It lead to him being released by the now rebuilding Saints, but that doesn’t mean his done.  He still had six 1000+ yard seasons in New Orleans, and I think he can still be an decent WR3 or mentor to younger WRs.  He’s probably going to be the cheapest of the bunch as well.

***

There are many other WRs available in free agency, but these are the ones I think teams should focus on, depending on the need.  And hopefully they find themselves a Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd with solid team chemistry.  Like in Ghostbusters.  Minus the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, of course.  But that’s a given.

Stay puft ghostbusters 1984

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