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2005 NFL Free Agents: Wide Receivers
By: Thomas J Gersey

1. Plaxico Burress, PIT, UFA (35 rec, 698 yds, 5 td)
Problem child? Perhaps. Since his days at Michigan State, he has been known to be a bit of a head case, and those past issues started to creep up this season on the run oriented Steelers. As the team succeeded, Burress displayed impatience with his role in the offense. He has already made it known that he will seek employment elsewhere, and the market for a 6'5, 226 lbs receiver will be rabid. For all of his potential attitude problems, he has the ability to be amongst the best wide outs in the game, and is worth the risk

BEST FITS: Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, New England, Baltimore, Tennessee, Kansas City, San Diego

LIKELY OUTCOME: Burress will be widely pursued, and more than likely, it will come down to dollars. Tampa will be hard-pressed to bring in both Burress and Alexander, while re-signing QB Brian Griese. Baltimore would be an excellent fit, where an athletic pass catcher is an absolute must. Atlanta is constantly looking to upgrade, but the Peerless Price fiasco has left them gun shy for the near future. New England seems to be a great fit from my perspective, as they demonstrated that a malcontent can resurrect his career and his reputation in their locker room (see: Corey Dillon). However, in all likelihood, a bidding war will ensue between Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and San Diego.

2. Jerry Porter, OAK, UFA (64 rec, 998 yds, 9 td)
8 touchdowns in his last 6 games showed that Porter might finally be getting it. His 135 yard, 3 td performance against Denver on Monday Night Football served notice that Porter was ready to join the ranks of the elite receivers. Significantly bigger than most corners, Porter is an athletic freak with exceptional speed and leaping ability. As his hands improve, so does his production. He goes into next season on the precipice of making the leap, and the Raiders will be wise to lock him up long term.

BEST FITS: Oakland, Kansas City, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Dallas

LIKELY OUTCOME: Jon Gruden loves to bring in former Raiders, and would no doubt make a strong push to retain Porter's services. As anxious as teams will be to make a pitch to him, Porter will likely remain in Oakland with a five year deal before the bidding even gets started.

3. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, CIN, UFA (73 rec, 978 yds, 4 td)
A former 7th round pick, Houshmandzadeh put up the numbers the Bengals expected from former top 5 pick Peter Warrick. When the Florida State product became unavailable, this former Oregon Stater stepped in and became a reliable No. 2 for first year starter Carson Palmer. Although he doesn't do anything flashy, he is a solid receiver much in the mold of a Muhsin Muhammed. He won't outrun you consistently, and he won't outleap everyone, but he is physical, runs good deep routes, and catches everything you throw at him. The biggest concern for the Bengals will be his potential desire to move on where he can be the focal point of the passing game.

BEST BETS: Cincinnati, Seattle, Baltimore, Kansas City, San Francisco, Chicago

LIKELY OUTCOME: The bottom line is that someone is going to overpay for those statistics. If history is any indicator, it will be Baltimore, where he will be asked to be the No. 1 receiver, and will fail miserably (see: Kevin Johnson). With Kelly Washington waiting in the wings, the Bengals will likely let him walk.

4. David Givens, NE, RFA (56 rec, 874, 3 td)
How many fans know that (a) Givens is 6'0, 215, and that (b) he is only 24 years old? He served notice in 2003 with 500 yards and 6 tds, and stepped it up considerably this past season as early Tom Brady favorite Deion Branch went down with an injury. Givens is as solid as they come. He catches everything, runs precise routes, and can outrun most secondaries. He is great underneath, and shows the toughness one would expect from a former Golden Domer. Only a 7th round pick, Givens has proven to be a steal.

BEST BETS: Washington, Cincinnati, NY Giants, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New England

LIKELY OUTCOME: Cincinnati and Chicago are intriguing possibilities. If the Bears draft a wideout at #4 overall, Givens would be an idealNo. 2, with his Notre Dame status in a city that adores the Irish. And, as a native of Ohio, playing second fiddle to Chad Johnson would seem the perfect fit. bBut, Patriots stay in New England, plain and simple. It is highly unlikely that Givens will be any different. He is a restricted free agent, and will likely be paid fair market value immediately following the Patriots Super Bowl victory.

5. Joey Galloway, TB, UFA (33 rec, 416 yds, 5 td)
Yes, Galloway fought injuries, and yes, he is 33 years old. However, as the season progressed, he showed that he had redefined himself as a receiver, and became a true go-to guy in the red zone for the Bucs. Always a speed reciever, Galloway made the move to possession receiver, and showed that he could be a valuable No. 2 for many a team. He is still fast enough to get separation, runs good routes, and is very strong for his size. As a slot receiver in a conservative set, he could be an 80 catch guy again.

BEST FITS: Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Atlanta, Denver

LIKELY OUTCOME: I love the idea of Galloway coming out of the slot underneath in Minnesota, but he would be best situated on a veteran team where he could reap the benefits of playing second fiddle to an established star. Denver and Philadelphia make the most sense, but don't be surprised if Tampa retains his services.

SLEEPER: Troy Edwards, JAX, UFA (50 rec, 533, 1 td)
Only 27 years old, this former first rounder already has 6 years in the league. Though he seems like an old timer, he is actually hitting his prime. Labeled a bust early on, he has become as reliable a third receiver as there is in the league (alongside Bobby Engram in Seattle). I don't see him ever being a No. 1 and he is likely not a strong No. 2. At 5'10, 195, he is a great slot guy, with excellent hands and superb body control. Anyone who say the Sunday Night game between Pitt and Jax knows that his 5 catch, 90 yards preformance single-handedly kept the Jaguars alive in that game. He is poised and much more refined than when he entered the league, and would be extremely valuable to a team looking to make the leap.

BEST FITS: Cincinnati, Chicago, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, Green Bay, Washington, Philadelphia

LIKELY OUTCOME: Will the market for Edwards be as strong as I feel it should? Only time will tell. The WR crop for this offseason is very weak, and teams looking to solidify their depth may see Edwards as a valuable asset. He would be invaluable in places like Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, and Buffalo, where he would be a safety valve for the young quarterbacks in those cities. Any one of them would be wise to pursue him.

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