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More 2019 free agents: wide receivers

With one of the weakest receiving units in the NFL in 2018, what can the Redskins do to upgrade in 2019?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This will be my last article looking at 2019 free agents, as the madness that is Free Agent Frenzy is slated to begin tomorrow.

For the final installment, I thought I would go with the position set that is both the easiest and hardest to discuss.

It’s easy because each player has statistics that make it very easy to compare statistical production, and wide receivers are among the most visible on the field. It’s also the case that the Redskins are in desperate need of improvement in the receiving unit — more help than a single draft pick can provide.

On the other hand, writing about the veteran free agent receiver options is hard because... well... there are so many of them. Also, more so than perhaps any other position in football, receivers have to be looked at in sets (X, Y, Z) rather than simply for their individual talent. It’s no good having two “x” receivers if you don’t have someone to line up at “z”. And receivers are also high-dollar investments, and with the market having been reset two years ago, a mistake in free agency can be a cap-killer.

Frankly, I’m not familiar enough with many of these players to give a meaningful overview of any depth at all, and I don’t have the analytical skills needed to discuss players in combination with the receivers currently on the Redskins roster, or with the draft picks likely to be added.

This article will, driven by these realities, be inadequate to the job of assessing the players in any real depth; instead, I will make an attempt to cast a reasonably wide net at a very shallow depth, providing statistics, possibly a few measurables, and brief commentary for each player.

With the speed at which free agency progresses, this will all be ancient history by Tuesday anyway.

Wide Receiver salaries

For reference, I have copied the top of the list of wide receivers, in descending order of contract value, from OverTheCap:

Redskins wide receivers

You might notice that only one Redskins receiver appears on this list of players with contract values above $4m per season — Paul Richardson, who was active for just 7 games last year, and who, in a 5-year career, has 115 catches for 1,564 yards. Because of his contract situation, Richardson is likely to be here for at least the ‘19 and ‘20 seasons, so the Redskins need to complement him, not replace him.

The next highest paid Redskins receiver is Josh Doctson, who will cost $2.5m in salary cap this year, and who has 81 catches for 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns in his 3-year career. This is the final year of Doctson’s rookie deal, and — barring an unexpected and dramatic turnaround — should be his last season as a Redskin. While I’m sure we would all be overjoyed if Josh Doctson suddenly played like the first-round starter he was drafted to be, signing a veteran or drafting a player who can push Doctson down the depth chart shouldn’t be discounted as an option for the season.

Read this quality analysis from James Dorsett:

Skins Stats: Josh Doctson and the Portrait of a First Round Bust

The unit gets very thin, very fast after that.

Of course, Jamison Crowder is about to add his name to the list of highly paid receivers. The problem is that he’ll probably do it with another team. Reports (mostly from John Keim) have said that the ‘Skins are interested in keeping Crowder, but are not in a position to pay him. Mr. Irrelevant, Trey Quinn, who couldn’t stay healthy last season, making two trips to IR, will be the heir-apparent, unless the front office brings in a veteran like, say, Cole Beasley, from the list below.

The rest of the depth chart is largely undistinguished:

  • Cam Simms
  • Robert Davis
  • Maurice Harris
  • and three other guys

I’ll be shocked if the Redskins don’t try to bolster the receiving corps with at least one draft pick between the 2nd and 5th rounds, but this under-performing unit probably needs reinforcement from an impactful free agent as well.

Unrestricted veteran free agent wide receivers

The 36 free agent wide receivers discussed in this article are listed alphabetically by last name, so you can simply scroll down to find a particular player you are looking for.

Tavon Austin, Cowboys

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I was very excited about and intrigued by Tavon Austin when he entered the league. I thought he would have a great career. Six years later, it’s obvious that no one has quite figured out how to get the most out of his speed and quickness. Austin is seen motioning across the formation in an effort to create multiple directionality and stress the defense, but he somehow never seems to deliver on the promise that he brings. I just don’t see him filling any great needs for the Redskins, and this season the franchise doesn’t have the luxury of spending any cap dollars on a gimmicky receiver who does most of his limited damage on jet sweeps.

Cole Beasley, Cowboys

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports

I highlighted Beasley in an article published at the end of January. Here’s what I had to say then:

Beasley played the last four years with the Cowboys on a contract that paid him a total of $13.6m (APY $3.4m). Though Beasley has been a valuable and consistent part of the Cowboys offense, he has had limited production throughout his career and is now 30 years old.

It’s hard to imagine that many teams will pay big dollars to this reliable slot receiver with limited athletic ability.

The Redskins have their own free agent in Jamison Crowder, who is younger and offers potentially greater upside, as well as Trey Quinn, who — though he was injured for nearly all of his rookie season — has comparable skills and 3 years remaining on his rookie contract, which will pay him between $587k and $767K per year.

I don’t see the Redskins making a play for Beasley, though he should end up with a role and on some NFL team early in free agency, possibly even continuing his career with the Cowboys, despite the recent Twitter flare up between he and the front office.

I think Beasley is a deceptively good football player despite his limited size and athleticism, but, especially given his 7 seasons in Dallas, I don’t see him as a Redskin.

Kelvin Benjamin, Chiefs

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I loved Kelvin Benjamin when he came into the league, and in 2014 he looked like he was going to dominate the NFL for the coming decade. The injury that cost him his 2015 season seemed to vanish in the wake of his 2016 performance, but it has been a different story since that season ended. Benjamin has reportedly had issues with his weight and dedication to the game.

After the Panthers exercised his fifth year option, they ended up trading him to the Bills for 3rd & 7th round picks. After just 18 games, the Bills released him in 2018, and he was signed by the Chiefs. His short career in Kansas City consisted of 2 receptions for 26 yards in three games.

At this point, Benjamin has the look of ‘damaged goods’ and a promising career gone off the rails. I have a hard time letting go of my early impression of him as a game-changing future hall-of-fame player, but Kelvin Benjamin is looking like a guy who let his career slip away from him. Doubtless, some team will take a chance on him this off-season, but if Benjamin doesn’t pull his shit together, this may be his last NFL rodeo.

John Brown, Ravens

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Speed. Good hands. Generally healthy.

John Brown is probably the player the Redskins were hoping to get when they signed Paul Richardson as a free agent last year.

I think Brown is going to make some team very happy this season, but it won’t be the Redskins, because they are already paying Paul Richardson to do what John Brown does. P-Rich isn’t going anywhere due to his contract, which means there’s no room for John Brown in DC.

Dez Bryant, Saints

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

There’s nothing I can say about Dez that will enlighten any Redskins fan. We all know about him. From 2011 to 2014 he was a dominating receiver, but now he’s a 30-year-old underperformaing receiver trying to come back from an injury that ended his 2018 season before he ever stepped on a football field.

I don’t like Dez Bryant. I’ll never like Dez Bryant. I don’t want Dez Bryant anywhere near a Redskins uniform, unless it’s on the player stepping in front of Dez for the interception.

Dez’s agent should be calling the XFL any day now.

Randall Cobb, Packers

Atlanta Falcons v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Cobb was instrumental in the Fantasy Football Championship I won in 2014, and I’ve always been a fan. It’s hard to imagine that, after 8 years in the NFL, Cobb is just 28 years old. It feels like he’s been around forever, and should be on the verge of retirement in his mid-30s.

I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Cobb in a Redskins uniform. He’s a professional, a good route runner, and has reliable hands. He’s a chain mover, a bit like Pierre Garcon. A 3-year contract with the Redskins could provide a level of veteran leadership that the Redskins receiving unit seems to need.

Chris Conley, Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Playing in one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, Conley gets his hands on the ball about twice a game for around 23 yards. I’m not sure if he is an under-performer or if there just weren’t enough balls to go around in Kansas City. There’s nothing about this former third round pick that excites me.

Phillip Dorsett, Patriots

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Dorsett went from the Colts to the Patriots in the trade for QB Jacoby Brissett.

Having been drafted 29th overall by the Colts, he simply hasn’t lived up to expectations. The Patriots, wisely, declined the 5th year option for Dorsett.

Last year, with Brian Quick, Michael Floyd and Josh Doctson, the Redskins seemed to be collecting failed first round receivers; I guess signing Dorsett would be a way to complete a set, but other than that, I’m not sure what he would bring to the team that would be an upgrade over the players we have now.

Bruce Ellington, Lions

Los Angeles Rams v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Five seasons. Three teams. 44 games. 769 yards. 5’9” tall.

No thank you.

Devin Funchess, Panthers

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Twenty-four years old, 6’4” and 225 pounds. I love watching Devin Funchess play. He has been a fairly productive player in Carolina, but I can’t help thinking that he should have produced more.

I think he and Jay Gruden would get along very well, and I could see Jay scheming up plays to get Funchess open along the seam and down the sidelines. His size and experience would be welcome on this Redskins team, I think.

I’m inclined to put Funchess on the “priority” free agent list for the Redskins. I’d be excited to see him in Maroon and Black.

Pierre Garcon, 49ers

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Pierre Garçon’s time with the 49ers will come to an end on March 13.

A report in February indicated that the 49ers would decline their option on the veteran wideout’s contract for the 2019 season. The 49ers confirmed it on Thursday.

Garçon signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal with the Niners in 2017, but injuries have limited him to 16 games over his two seasons with the team. He’s had 64 catches for 786 yards and a touchdown when he has been able to get on the field and it’s not hard to see why the 49ers opted not to pay $6 million to see if Garçon could do better in 2019.

No introduction necessary for this former Redskin. Garcon was always a tough, physical player, and in the past two seasons with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers, he was only able to get on the field for 16 (out of 32 possible) games.

I think most Redskins fans love Pierre, but, at 32 years old, he probably doesn’t offer what the Redskins need right now.

Ryan Grant, Colts

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

I think every Hogs Haven reader is familiar with the precise route running of Ryan Grant, and the career year he had in 2017.

I, for one, was shocked when Jay Gruden and the front office let him walk in free agency, and I was pleased for him that he got a solid $5m contract from the Colts.

Indianapolis may not have been thrilled with their return on investment, as Grant hauled in just 334 yard and a touchdown in 14 games.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Grant back in DC on a contract that is perhaps more indicative of his career production. I’m thinking a 3-year deal for around $10-12m would be reasonable for Grant, who would restore some of the reliability to the Redskins passing game.

Justin Hardy, Falcons

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Fifty-seven games, 76 receptions, 751 yards.

Color me unimpressed. He looks like JAG. This time next year, Hardy might well be a star in the Alliance of American Football.

Chris Hogan, Patriots

Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Hogan had my all-time-favorite nickname from Hard Knocks: 7-11 (because he was always open). Hogan is a reliable receiver. He’s a chain-mover of the Garcon variety. I was shocked to see that he is already 31 years old; I thought he was much younger.

All in all, I think Hogan is still in a position to contribute to an NFL offense. I wouldn’t be offended if he signed a 2-year deal with the Redskins. He’s the sort of hard-working veteran that is part of a winning culture.

Adam Humphries, Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I highlighted Humphries in an article published at the end of January. I see him as one of the premier veteran free agent targets available this off-season. Here’s part of what I wrote back in January:

Spotrac estimates a projected 4 year, $41.7m contract for Humphries (APY $10.4m), which seems wildly high to me, but perhaps he’ll get it.

I’d be surprised if he gets it from the Redskins, who are probably not in a salary cap position to spend this kind of money on a young receiver who, while having played a very strong half-season to finish 2018, has yet to truly break out in the NFL.

A 2015 undrafted free agent out of Clemson, Humphries quietly shined in Tampa despite being overshadowed by veteran stars DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound slot man set career highs in 2018 with 76 receptions for 816 yards and five touchdowns. Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 32 WR among 117 qualifiers.

Humphries doubles as a special teams maven, able to return both kicks and punts. He notched 21 punt returns and two kick returns last season, and ran back a 109-yard kick-six during the preseason.

Striking while the iron’s hot in a weak free-agent class, Humphries reportedly is asking for $10-14 million annually on the open market.

If the Redskins could sign Humphries without destroying their salary cap position, I’d be pleased to see him added to the team. He’s just 25 years old, so it might be possible to give him a 4 or 5 year deal structured to provide a lower cap hit this season, while building the core talent for the future.

Justin Hunter, Steelers

Los Angeles Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Seven seasons, 60 games, 4 teams, 85 receptions.

Hunter is a local kid from Virginia Beach, and he is 6’4”, but his history says that he’s a non-performer. Someone will bring him to camp, but it would be a surprise to see him on a 53-man squad after training camp.

Dontrelle Inman, Colts

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

After a decent 2016 season, Inman was traded to the Bears in the middle of 2017 for a 7th round ham sandwich.

The Bears let him go to free agency at the end of the season, where the Colts picked him up on a vet minimum contract. Based on his limited production with the Colts, I’d say that he has now fallen to the level of a mid-season “replacement” player when injuries bite too deep. His career probably isn’t dead yet, but it appears to be on life-support.

Jermaine Kearse, Jets

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Kearse was surprisingly consistent, with mostly increasing production from 2013 to 2017. Last season, with a rookie quarterback and a new offensive coordinator, Kearse did not appear to thrive.

Here’s an analysis from JetsWire:

With a new offense coming to Florham Park and the Jets looking to improve their weapons around Sam Darnold, there should be an abundance of receivers coming in. That also means there will be receivers leaving as well.

One of those players will likely be Jermaine Kearse. He had a fine 2017 season after coming over to New York in the Sheldon Richardson trade, but Kearse took a major step back under a new coordinator in 2018. He caught just 37 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown last season.

Kearse appeared to be part of the problem in 2018. He often butted heads with Jeremy Bates about the offense and his lack of use. His targets are unlikely to increase in 2019, so that would be setting up a potential feud with the no-nonsense Adam Gase.

The Verdict

The receiver position is due for an overhaul, as the Jets are only likely to keep four members, with one of them being a kick returner. The Jets have money on their side, but a reunion with Kearse seems rather unlikely with the nature of his playing time and the direction of this team.

Personally, I get the feeling that Kearse was the victim of the changes in New York last year, and that he might thrive with a change of scenery.

I think he is a good fit for a Jay Gruden offense, and he’s one of the few ‘19 free agents who has a history of being a productive receiver and is also likely to be available on an affordable contract (<$5m APY). This seems especially likely given his drop in production last season.

I would put Kearse on the “priority” list for the Redskins front office.

Cody Latimer, Giants

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Latimer looks like a prime candidate for the XFL or AAF. He’s never played more than 14 games in a season, and managed just 6 for the Giants last year, spending most of the season on IR with a hamstring injury.

Rishard Matthews, Titans

Los Angeles Rams v Tennessee Titan Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Matthews is one of those guys who caught my eye as a fantasy football player. I kept putting him on my teams, expecting every year that he would break out, and he finally did seem to do just that when he signed with the Titans in the 2016 off season.

He signed an extension with the Titans ahead of the 2018 season, but then things went pear-shaped. With just 3 receptions in three games, Matthews asked for his release, which he was given. He was out of work for about a month before being signed by the Jets in late-October. In 5 games with the Jets, he added two more receptions, to finish the season with 5 receptions for 24 yards.

The Redskins were churning through receivers in 2018, and if they had liked Matthews, they certainly could have signed him after he was released from the Titans.

I don’t know what went wrong for this player, but his seemingly solid career, which appeared to be trending upward in his first two seasons in Tennessee, now seems to be in an out-of-control spiral.

Based on his pre-2018 career, I’d be excited to see Rishard Matthews signed by the Redskins, but his unexplained apparent meltdown in 2018 seems to run a bunch of red flags up the pole. I’m not sure what to think right now.

Jordan Matthews, Eagles

Divisional Round - Philadelphia Eagles v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Matthews, drafted by the Eagles in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft, was building a solid career for himself in Philly until the Eagles sent him and a 3rd round pick to the Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby.

Matthews’ production in Buffalo fell into a well. he appeared in just 10 games, and managed just 282 yards for a Buffalo team led by Tyrod Taylor. The Bills didn’t re-sign him.

He was initially signed in the ‘18 off season by the Patriots, but was released following a pre-training camp injury. The Eagles welcomed him back in late September, but he managed just 20 catches in 14 games as the Eagles limped through their post-super bowl season.

Now he is again a free agent, and — after being part of three teams in a matter of just a few months, whatever luster he had developed in his first three years with Philly seems to have worn off completely.

I expect Matthews to be a second, maybe third-tier free agent this off-season, and I’m hoping that the Redskins steer clear of him.

Donte Moncrief, Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The 6-foot-2 Moncrief, who was second on the Jaguars in targets (89), receptions (48) and receiving yards (668), brings the versatility that Jay Gruden wants from his wideouts. Not only can he take the top off the defense with his speed, but he can also catch passes underneath and make plays after the catch.

Moncrief has yet to establish himself as a true No. 1 wide receiver, but he has the skill set to turn into one. The Ole Miss product is also entering the prime of his career and has plenty of good football ahead of him.

I wouldn’t be unhappy to see him sign with the Redskins, but only on a very affordable contract.

J.J. Nelson, Cardinals

Chicago Bears v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

At 5’10” and 160 pounds, Nelson is not a good complement for a team that is locked into Paul Richardson’s contract for the next two years. Similar to John Brown, Nelson has skills that will work for an NFL team, but he isn’t the right fit for the Redskins in 2019.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Patriots

Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

I’m not sure if there’s been a more confounding receiver in the NFL in the past 6 seasons.

Drafted 29th overall by the Vikings in 2013, Patterson seemed to have everything a team could want — size, speed, quickness, shiftiness.

Somehow, Patterson has never managed to make it all translate successfully on the football field. I mean, he’s been productive — especially as a kick returner — and you can see what makes him dangerous when you watch him play, but as a receiver, he has averaged only about 2 catches for less than 20 yards per game in a largely undistinguished career.

Teams have involved him in the run game, but his explosive running plays have diminished steadily, dropping from 13.2 yards per carry in his rookie season to a much more pedestrian 5.4 yards per carry in 2018. The 2017 season, spent with the Raiders, is the only year of his career where his rushing production didn’t fall.

In the end, Patterson has turned out to be a first-round kick returner who is very limited as a receiver. It’s a far cry from the transformative player I expected him to be when he entered the league a year after RG3.

The Redskins should not consider Cordarelle Patterson for a moment this off-season. There should be no spot for him on the Washington roster.

Breshad Perriman, Browns

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Ten months ago, Fansided published an article titled, “Breshad Perriman: What went wrong for the 2015 1st round pick?

The saga started with Perriman being hurt for the entire 2015 season. This allowed frustration to brew in Baltimore, while the Ravens 1st round pick was sidelined for the entire 5-11 season. Perriman got hurt again in the offseason. It looked like he would miss his second season. Luckily for Perriman, the injury was less severe than initially feared and he got to play in 2016.

Perriman had a solid 2016 season. He caught 33 passes and wound up in the end zone three times for touchdowns. It wasn’t the kind of production the Ravens wanted from a 1st round pick, but it was an okay starting point. After missing his first season and coming on slowly in 2016, Perriman ended the year with the needle moving upward.

In the 2017 season, Perriman did next to nothing. He had 10 receptions for 77 yards. Perriman struggled to get open. He also struggled to catch the ball.

On a team that was desperate for help at wide receiver, Perriman got benched. That’s platinum level failure.

Perriman had a comeback, of sorts, in 2018, playing in 10 games and putting up 340 yards, but the promising first round draft pick of 2015 now looks like just another tragic story of unfulfilled potential.

Aldrick Robinson, Vikings

Miami Dolphins v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

I was flabbergasted to see that Aldrick Robinson is 30 years old. I think of him as a young player, kind of on the fringe of the NFL.

But two seasons with Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta & San Francisco, along with a season reunited with Kirk Cousins in Minnesota has been added to the four years that Aldrick Robinson spent hanging onto his NFL careeer by his fingernails in DC.

He’s basically a one-catch-per-game receiver, but last season he turned his 17 receptions into 5 touchdowns. He’s a small, fast receiver — sore of a (very) poor man’s Desean Jackson.

I wrote in a comment or an article recently that I wouldn’t mind seeing Robinson return to the Redskins, but upon further reflection, I don’t think he brings enough value to take up one of the 3 roster spots the Redskins are likely to fill beyond Richardson and Doctson.

I’ll always root for Aldrick because of his years as a Redskin, but I won’t be looking for him to rejoin the team in 2019.

Eli Rogers, Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I remember readers from Behind the Steel Curtain being very excited about Eli Rogers back in 2016, so I was pretty excited to see him listed among the free agents for this off-season.

When I looked at his career stats, my first thought was that he should be a Restricted Free Agent, so I did a Google search and found this from SteelersDepot:

Free Agency Outlook:

There still seems to be at least some degree of uncertainty from the Steelers’ camp about whether or not the contract of Rogers will toll into the 2019 season. There is already precedent for players in his position to have had their contracts toll, as it just happened with the Seattle Seahawks last year, but to hear Kevin Colbert or Art Rooney II talk about the topic, they don’t appear to be sure. Perhaps they should know.

Until we are informed otherwise, however, we will work under the assumption that Rogers’ contract will indeed toll, which means that his 2018 contract will be repeated in 2019, his fifth season in the NFL. There is no reason to think that he shouldn’t remain a part of the Steelers’ offense, especially given the way that they started to use him once they activated him from the PUP List.

I’m not sure if Rogers is going to be available as an unrestricted free agent or not this off-season, but his best bet is likely to be a return to the Steelers who — lets face it — will need some continuity as they move on from Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell.

Russell Shepard, Giants

Tennessee Titans v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

Golden Tate, Eagles

Divisional Round - Philadelphia Eagles v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

I’ve already highlighted Golden Tate in one article published at the end of January. Here’s what I had to say in that feature:

It’s very unlikely that Tate returns to Philadelphia next season. He will command a salary that the Eagles aren’t in a position to offer with their current cap situation. On top of the financial issues, Tate just hasn’t fit into Doug Pederson’s offense. A fresh start elsewhere could benefit Tate in a lot of ways.

The Redskins took a swing in free agency with Paul Richardson last season. If it wasn’t quite a swing and a miss, it was no better than a foul ball, as Richardson struggled to develop a connection with Alex Smith, and ended up on IR and lost for much of the season.

Golden Tate is a much more proven commodity, and — despite his age — might offer value to the Redskins on a short one, two or three year contract with minimal guarantees. Tate could add the tough on-field leadership the Redskins receiving corps has lacked since the departure of Pierre Garcon. A veteran like Tate signed in free agency combined with a second or third round draft pick used on a receiver could reinvigorate a position group that currently looks like one of the weakest in the NFL.

I mentioned Garcon above, and it seems no coincidence that Spotrac lists Garcon and Desean Jackson as two of the four comparable contracts in estimating Tate’s projected contract value, which they put at 3 years, $30.6m (APY $10.2m). This was too rich for the Redskins in the 2017 offseason, but perhaps they’ll feel differently two seasons later, having seen that Jay Gruden’s offense isn’t guaranteed to get every receiver open. Perhaps the Washington front office will be willing to pay the freight for this tough and reliable receiver in the hopes of reigniting the explosiveness of the Redskins offense.

De’Anthony Thomas, Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

5’8”, 178 pounds. 64 receptions in 5 seasons. Averaging 100 yards per year, and coming off a broken leg.

Uh... no thanks.

Demaryius Thomas, Texans

Houston Texans v New York Jets Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

It feels like Demaryius Thomas has been playing forever.

He had an incredible 6-year run from 2012 to 2017. I imagine he’ll someday be in the hall of fame. He put up nearly 700 yards + 5 touchdowns last year, playing for two different teams.

I think he’d add a fantastic veteran presence to a unit that probably needs the leadership, but this would have the feeling of the bad old days of buying a free agent with big name-value at the end of his career.

If Thomas is ready to play at a discount, I would welcome him to the Redskins for a season or two, but I suspect he can still demand a pretty good payday and get it from a team like, say, the Jets who need receivers and have the cap room to pay for them.

Deonte Thompson, Bills

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A journeyman receiver entering his eighth NFL season having played for 4 teams, and with only one season of 250 yards or more.


Mike Wallace, Eagles

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The narrative in my brain says that Wallace is a guy who has under-performed his entire career, but as I look at his statistics I see that he put up 8,000 yards in 9 seasons, and that he missed only 2 games in those 9 seasons.

Clearly, he’s better than I thought. I think I was heavily influenced by his disappointing year with the Vikings.

That said, Wallace is 32 years old and he broke his fibula in week 2 last year, and never made it back to the playing field.

The Eagles signed him for one year, $5m in 2018. I imagine he’d sign for a bit less this season, coming off the injury and being a year older.

Surprising myself, I’m gonna say that I’d be okay with the ‘Skins signing Wallace to a contract of around $4m per year for a season or two.

Tyrell Williams, Chargers

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Williams is one of the most impressive free agent receivers available, averaging close to 50 catches and 800 yards per season over the past three years, and playing 16 games in each of them. He’s a bit older at age 27, but his size (6’4”, 205) makes him a threat that would enhance the Redskins receiving unit. Williams is one of the few free agent receivers I would endorse signing to a high-dollar contract in 2019. I don’t think the Redskins will be in a position to out-bid other teams, so I’d put the chances of signing Williams on the low end, though there are very few players I would rather see the Redskins sign this off-season.


There were a number of players that I gave the ‘thumbs up’ to in the article. All things considered, of the guys that I endorsed, who would you prefer to see the front office prioritize if they try to sign a wide receiver in free agency?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Randall Cobb
    (35 votes)
  • 25%
    Devin Funchess
    (109 votes)
  • 2%
    Ryan Grant
    (12 votes)
  • 2%
    Chris Hogan
    (11 votes)
  • 4%
    Adam Humphries
    (17 votes)
  • 3%
    Jermaine Kearse
    (13 votes)
  • 9%
    Golden Tate
    (39 votes)
  • 1%
    Demaryius Thomas
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Mike Wallace
    (10 votes)
  • 28%
    Tyrell Williams
    (119 votes)
  • 12%
    I don’t like none of ‘em!
    (52 votes)
422 votes total Vote Now