Top 2012 WR Free Agents
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Before a year officially ends in the NFL, preparations have already been underway for months as to whom all 32 teams are looking to target for the upcoming draft, and in the free-agent market. While teams still hold rights to franchise tags, and have the ability to retain various players before free agency begins in March, I have a list of the players I feel are top wide receivers listed below.
When free agency opens up I will update this list, and all other positions linked below. Outside of the actual season taking place, the anticipation of free agency has to be one of my favorite times of the year, as NFL Futures will change, not just for the players who sign with new teams – but for their new fellow teammates as well.
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Last Updated – 3/16
Brandon Marshall To Bears – The Dolphins have moved Brandon Marshall for two third round picks from the Bears. While it’s a little mysterious what is going on with the Dolphins on this move, Marshall and Jay Cuter are now reunited. Both had great success together in Denver and Cutler finally has a legit No.1 receiver. This move will help Marshall and Cutler’s fantasy value instantly.
|Player (former team)||New Team||Notes|
|Mike Wallace (Pit)||Tender||One of the premier depth threats in the game, Wallace will command attention from teams around the league, and is likely to be on the move as various teams will be willing to give up a first round pick to acquire him.What may keep teams away is the money it will take to sing him, and the fact that he still needs to sharpen his overall game.Wallace has yet to command a full grasp of the entire route tree, but his vertical impact would instantly upgrade any offense he play in.|
|Dwayne Bowe (KC)||Franchise Tag||No doubt Dwayne Bowe has a big contract coming his way at some point, despite his problematic history. While the Chiefs need to be careful as to how they structure Bowe’s next deal, he is way too valuable to walk away to another team.For now, Bowe remains under the franchise tag and may have to wait until next off-season, before he lands a multi-year deal.|
|Wes Welker (NE)||Franchise Tag||I’d assume the Patriots will give Welker a new deal at some point, but this team has surprised me in the past.|
|Marques Colston (No)||Re-Signed5 yr, 40 million||The Saints scrambled to sign Colston after Randy Moss signed with the 49ers on Monday night.This is a great fit for Colston and he should remain the top receiver in New Orleans passing attack – after tight end Jimmy Graham, of course.|
|DeSean Jackson (Phi)||Re-Signed5 yr, 51 million||After acting like a spoiled brat for most of the 2011 season, it almost makes me believe the Eagles are starting rumors of other teams begin interested in Jackson, to see if any interest is really out in the market.Expect Jackson to remain in Philly this year, without a new contract, and if he plays well, he will garner more attention, this time next year.3/16 update –Jackson has been re-signed with the Eagles for five years. A good fit for Jackson scheme wise, and if he keeps the attitude in-check, this will be a fair deal for the Eagles.
|Vincent Jackson (SD)||Buccaneers,5 yr, 55.55 million||In fantasy terms this is a bad move for Jackson as he will leave playing with one of the better deep ball throwers in Philip Rivers and play with Josh Freeman – who regressed badly last year.That said, Jackson’s addition will help this offense as his presence will take the top off a defense, forcing the opposing safeties to play balanced against the run.|
|Stevie Johnson (Buf)||Re-Signed5 years – 36.25 million||The Bills did the right thing by signing Johnson. This guy is too valuable to the offense to let go, and while he may do some dumb stuff on the field at times, he doesn’t come across to me as a cancer of a player.If Johnson matures, signing him at this point, will be a steal.|
|Brandon Lloyd (St.L)||Patriots3 yr, 12 million|| The Patriots finally have a deep threat since the departure of Randy Moss back in October of 2010. Lloyd will be a great fit in this offense as he hooks up with Josh McDaniels for a third time, in the past three years, with three different teams.Lloyd’s addition only makes Tom Brady a more attractive fantasy option.
|Reggie Wayne (Ind)||Re-Signed3 yr, 17.5 million||A surprise for sure as Wayne was expected to be out of Indy this year. Instead, Andrew Luck will actually have a respectable No.1 receiver, as the Colts are clearly starting over.|
|Laurent Robinson (Dal)||Jaguars5 yr, 32.5 million||After a great year with the Cowboys, Robinson will now serve as Blaine Gabbert’s top receiver. While this is an upgrade for the Jaguars, it’s unlikely that Robinson will stay on the field weekly, as injury problems have haunted him over his career.Maybe the Jags overpaid for Robinson, but when you’re a bad team, that’s what you have to do in order to attract players to your squad.|
|Mario Manningham (NYG)||49ers2 yr|| While Manningham upgrades the 49ers receiving core, I’m a little concerned about the character of this bunch.Crabtree, Manningham and Moss have all had their problems in the past, and throw in Davis, and you have a talented but potentially troublesome bunch.
That said, if any head coach is up to the task of making it work, Harbaugh is more than qualified.
|Robert Meachem (No)||Chargers, 4 yr, 25.9 million||This is a win for Meachem, as he will likely have less competition in San Diego for targets. Meachem is basically a poor man’s Vincent Jackson as he will stretch the field, but he doesn’t have a well-rounded game.If anyone can make Meachem a top 20 fantasy receiver, it’s Rivers.|
|Josh Morgan (SF)||Redskins,5 yr, 12 million||As a 49ers fan, this one hurts as Morgan was stepping his game up before a leg injury knocked him out for the year.The 49ers were hoping to get Morgan back, but the veteran returned closer to home to play with the Redskins and RGIII.Morgan will help this offense, but they need a true No.1 at some point.|
|Jerome Simpson (Cin)|
|Deion Branch (NE)|
|Danny Amendola (St.L)||Tender||Smart move for the Rams, Amendola was sorely missed as Sam Bradford clearly favored him as his top possession receiver, in his rookie year.|
|Braylon Edwards (SF)|
|Plaxico Burress (NYJ)|
Randy Moss signs with 49ers – Probably a good fit for Moss, and IF motivated he will give San Fransisco what they need, and that is a deep threat.
Pierre Garcon signs with Redskins – And so the Redskins get to work on adding talent around RGIII on the first day of free agency. I’m not in love with this addition but Garcon has proven to be a worthy starting receiver in the league. Expect Garcon to continue his up and down play as an inconstant producer.