Saturday, February 27, 2010

2010 Free Agency Top Fives: Wide Receiver

(Note: This series of lists only includes unrestricted free agents, as those are the only type that can be signed without giving up compensation. Restricted free agents—especially the best ones—will cost valuable draft picks.)

Every team is looking for that playmaker, that guy who can provide a spark on offense, and often times that guy is a wide receiver.

Teams are often inclined to hang onto the playmakers they already have, however, so the market usually isn't stocked with them.

That being said, here are my top five wide receivers on the free agent market in 2010:

Terrell Owens, Buffalo Bills

Owens' distracting nature has hurt the back end of his career, forcing him to go to Buffalo, where he likely had no desire to play.

Now 35, Owens is coming off his worst statistical season since he played just seven games with the Eagles in 2004, although he was still fairly productive in Buffalo given his supporting cast.

Although he won't be getting any more big-money or long-term deals, Owens is still a physical specimen and one of the more talented receivers in the league, making him a welcome candidate for a short-term fix at receiver.

Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bryant resurrected his career quite a bit in Tampa Bay, showing he still has the ability to be a solid No. 1 receiver in the NFL.

As with most of his past relationships, though, that one too eventually soured, and a team lacking any kind of replacement hasn't shown interest in retaining him.

Bryant isn't going to be handed a long-term contract and guaranteed No. 1 role due to attitude and knee issues, but he has the ability to be that guy, and should have at least a few opportunities around the league.

Derrick Mason, Baltimore Ravens

Although he nearly retired before last season, the 36-year-old Mason is still a quality receiver, amassing over 1,000 yards receiving for the eighth time in nine seasons in 2009.

While he may indeed call it quits this offseason and/or may not have any interest in playing for a team other than Baltimore if he does decide to play another year, he's worth pursuing as a No. 2 receiver and veteran presence.

Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks

It's hard to say Burleson earned his big contract when he was signed away from the Minnesota Vikings, but he did have a very strong season in 2009 despite little talent around him on offense, catching 63 passes for 812 yards in 13 games.

Burleson is no lock to start wherever he goes next, but the 28-year-old veteran could be an inexpensive find for a team looking for receiving help.

Kevin Walter, Houston Texans

Despite Texans' quarterback Matt Schaub's breakout season, Walter had his worst production of the past three years in 2009, as he saw his receiving yards drop to 611 and his touchdown total to just two after 12 between 2007 and 2008.

Although he's not that great of a blocker and probably shouldn't start on a good team, Walter is still just 28 years old, offers good size (6-3, 218) and has the talent to be a solid No. 3 receiver in the NFL.

Beyond the Top Five
  • Arnaz Battle, San Francisco 49ers — After starting for the Niners from 2005 to 2007, the former college quarterback has taken an almost nonexistent role on offense the last two seasons, catching 24 passes in 2008 and just five in 2009. He's also not a very good punt returner, making him little more than a No. 4 or 5 receiver in the NFL, if that.
  • Marty Booker, Atlanta Falcons — Booker's production has dropped off a cliff over the past four seasons, and at 33, the one-time Pro Bowler has little left in the tank. He may get picked up during the season due to injury, but it wouldn't be surprising if he's never heard from again in the NFL.
  • Mark Bradley, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — A second-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2005, Bradley has done little in five years in the league and has never totaled more than 380 yards receiving in a single season. He'll get some more chances being only 28, but he's unlikely to ever have a significant impact.
  • Chris Chambers, Kansas City Chiefs —Chambers had some big games after moving on to the Chiefs midseason, but I'm inclined to think it was a fluke. The 31-year-old doesn't have much left in the tank physically and will likely have to settle for a backup role most of his remaining career.
  • Mike Furrey, Cleveland Browns — A 1,000-yard receiver with the Lions in 2006 (and also a great example of why Wes Welker's production in New England is overrated), Furrey can play both wide receiver and safety, but does neither particularly well. His versatility could keep him around a while longer, but he's not starting material.
  • Joey Galloway, Pittsburgh Steelers —Likely looking to get a Super Bowl ring in stints with the Patriots and Steelers in 2009, Galloway caught just seven balls on the year and unfortunately wasn't able to add any jewelry to his collection. At 38, we've probably seen the last of him.
  • Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos — Once a rising star on some pretty bad 49ers teams, Lloyd's career his floundered majorly since he left the Bay Area in 2005. I actually think he has the ability to start somewhere inside him, but he seems unlikely to put it together at this point.
  • Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina Panthers — "Moose" actually isn't that bad considering he's 36, but he's no long-term solution and there are a lot of better starting options out there. He may be done starting in this league given his age, and could end up calling it quits altogether soon.
  • Kassim Osgood, San Diego Chargers — A quality special-teamer and three-time Pro Bowler, the 29 year old would like a chance to start. Whether he'll actually get it is another matter, but the 6-foot-5, 220-pound veteran is an intriguing prospect that could contribute in many areas.
  • Josh Reed, Buffalo Bills — Reed's always been a bit of a disappointment in Buffalo, never reaching 600 receiving yards or surpassing two touchdowns in any of his eight pro seasons. He has virtually no chance of starting in this league, but could serve as a No. 3 or 4 receiver for a few years.
  • David Tyree, Baltimore Ravens —The hero of Super Bowl XLII, Tyree has had trouble staying healthy and has never really been more than a special-teamer, despite his big-game heroics in 2008. He'll probably never be more than what he already is, and that isn't a contributor on offense.
  • Bobby Wade, Kansas City Chiefs — Wade had a few solid years in Minnesota, but overall he's a below-average starter. He shouldn't be any hire than No. 3 on anyone's depth chart, but he can still contribute a bit on offense and serve as a punt returner.

Who do you think are the best receivers in free agency in 2010? Share your thoughts on the forum here!