Looking Ahead to 2014: Free Agent Wide Receivers

Patrick McDermott

Mike Harar looks at some pending unrestricted free agent wide receivers who could help the Redskins' offense in 2014.

My Hogs Haven co-hort Mark Tyler did a great piece earlier this month in which he discussed several rookie wide receivers that the Redskins may have interest in drafting.  As he mentioned, the Redskins have a need at the position where there is basically Pierre Garcon and no one else.  They have some veterans that could step up if given the opportunity (i.e. Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson), but neither has shown enough consistency thus far in their careers to count on them.

With that in mind, there are some unrestricted free agents this offseason that could provide a boost, given that the money could be worked out by both sides.  The Redskins have a little more than $30 million under the salary cap to work with.  Here are some of the options:

1.  Eric Decker, 6-3, 218 lbs,  5th year, Broncos

- 2013 stats: 16 games, 87 rec's, 1,288 yards, 11 TD's

- Career Avg: 56 Rec's, 769 yards, 8 TD's

- Notes: What's not to like here?  Decker is a big rangy receiver with good speed who has had great production.  He will most likely want to re-sign with Peyton Manning in Denver if Manning does not retire.  However, if the Broncos win the Super Bowl, Manning could decide to ride off into the sunset on top, and then Decker may want to test the market.

2.  Julian Edelman, 5-8, 200 lbs, 6th Year, Patriots

- 2013 stats: 16 games, 105 rec's, 1,056 yards, 6 TD's

- Career Avg: 35 Rec's, 354 yards, 2 TD's

- Notes: Before last season, Edelman had failed to impress, averaging only 17 receptions and 178 yards in four seasons.  However, once Wes Welker left as a free agent to join the Broncos, Edelman was finally given a chance for more playing time, and it's safe to say he capitalized.  The Patriots are not known for breaking the bank for a single player, unless his name is Tom Brady, so Edelman may get better offers elsewhere.  He is a Welker clone who is quick, fast, and fearless, and would certainly provide an upgrade in the slot over Santana Moss.  He also would provide a steady presence as a punt returner.

3.   Jacoby Jones, 6-2, 212 lbs, 8th Year, Ravens

- 2013 stats: 12 games, 37 rec's, 455 yards, 2 TD's

- Career Avg: 28 Rec's, 372 yards, 2 TD's

- Notes: Jones would be more of a special teams addition, but could also contribute on offense.  Jones was fourth in the league in 2013 in kickoff return average at 28.8 and had several dynamic returns.  He also averaged 12.5 yards per return on punts.  The Redskins could certainly use more explosion in this area.

4.  Jeremy Maclin, 6-0, 198 lbs, 5th Year, Eagles

- 2012 stats: 15 games, 69 rec's, 857 yards, 7 TD's (missed all of 2013 with torn ACL)

- Career Avg: 64 Rec's, 861 yards, 7 TD's

- Notes: There is no doubt that a healthy Maclin is an exciting receiver who would be a great addition to any team.  Unfortunately, after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL, his health will be the biggest question for any team interested in his services.  If the Eagles do not re-sign him, the Chiefs are expected to be a suitor.

5. Dexter McCluster, 5-7, 170 lbs, 5th Year, Chiefs

- 2013 Stats: 15 games, 53 rec's, 511 yards, 2 TD's

- Career Avg: 43 rec's, 375 yards, 1 TD

- Notes: McCluster is a dangerous combination of a receiver, third down back, and returner.  He has mainly focused on playing receiver recently, but had 114 rushing attempts for 516 yards and 4.5 yards per carry average in 2011.  He is also a force as a return man, and finished seventh in the league in punt returns with an 11.8 yards per return average and two touchdowns.

6.  Emmanuel Sanders, 5-9, 180 lbs, 5th Year, Steelers

- 2013 Stats: 16 games, 67 rec's, 740 yards, 6 TD's

- Career Avg: 40 rec's, 508 yards, 3 TD's

- Notes: Sanders is a speedy receiver who can play both outside and in the slot.  In 2013, he had twelve plays of 20 yards or more, showing he can stretch the field.  In comparison, other than Pierre Garcon who had sixteen plays of 20-plus yards, no other Redskins receiver had more than three.  His production in Pittsburgh last season ranked second only behind Antonio Brown's (110 rec's, 1,499 yards, 8 TD's), and he would fit nicely in most places as a solid number two wideout.

7. Golden Tate, 5-8, 202 lbs, 5th Year, Seahawks

- 2013 Stats: 16 games, 64 rec's, 898 yards, 5 TD's

- Career Avg: 41 rec's, 549 yards, 4 TD's

- Notes: Tate has steadily increased his receptions and receiving yards all four years in the NFL.  He is also a solid punt returner who ranked ninth in the league with an 11.5 yard average.  He has shown some immaturity in the past, but his talent has been very evident as well.  The Seahawks will most likely be highly motivated to re-sign their leading receiver, and he will likely be interested in staying, as Seattle has a bright future.

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