2014 NFL Free Agent Receivers
By: Roshan Bhagat
Hakeem Nicks [New York Giants] - With speed, physicality, and tremendous YAC ability, Nicks will be on a short list of hot commodities this offseason if he can stay healthy. However, with an extensive history of nagging injuries, primarily to the lower extremities, the Giants have been reluctant to re-sign Nicks to a lucrative long-term contract forcing him into a "prove it" situation. Few players stand to make more money next offseason with their play this season than Hakeem Nicks. Expect a big year and a big payday.
Anquan Boldin [San Francisco 49ers] - Justifiably unwilling to take a $2 million pay cut after a remarkable postseason campaign, Boldin was traded to the 49ers where he's earning every cent of his salary. With size, physicality, and some of the best hands in the league, Anquan Boldin appears to have a couple more solid years in front of him. His size and physicality make him a good bet to re-sign with the 49ers.
Eric Decker [Denver Broncos] - With Peyton Manning at the helm, Decker joined along for the ride with the rest of the organization experiencing a big breakout season. After the team pursued Wes Welker in the offseason to improve their slot play, expect Decker's number to drop by a slight margin. However, expect the Broncos to make a strong push to retain Decker to keep their variety in skillsets that contribute to the dynamic nature of the offense.
Kenny Britt [Tennessee Titans] - Similar to Hakeem Nicks, it seems Britt has never been able to avoid the injury bug and when he catches a break, his own bone-headed decisions seem to keep him on the radar of local law enforcement. If Britt can mature, he has the skillset and talent to produce like a premier receiver in a better offensive situation. Another player to keep an eye on this year is Jared Cook, whose production could help make a case for Kenny Britt as a sleeper play next offseason.
Jeremy Maclin [Philadelphia Eagles] - It was heartbreaking to watch Maclin tear his ACL before the season even began, but especially so in his contract year. Though the specific injury is no longer as athletically threatening as it once was, it's more debilitating for a receiver that has always had injury concerns and has failed to post a 1000-yard season to date. Maclin has upside, but a short incentive-laden contract makes sense.
James Jones [Green Bay Packers] - After facing a disinterested market three years ago, James Jones returned to the Packers on a modest contract with the help of the good word of Aaron Rodgers. Leading in the league in touchdowns a year ago and curing a bad case of the drops, James Jones figures to see a little more attention this time around. However, with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Jermichael Finley emerging and expected to continue to take a larger role in the offense, a dip in numbers in 2014 could put him back in the same boat as not too long ago.
Golden Tate [Seattle Seahawks] - The Seahawks have reasonable depth at the position with a number of solid receivers. That could make Tate somewhat expendable next year. However, he made strides toward the end of 2012 when the entire offense exploded and figures to challenge the 1000-yard milestone assuming he can stay healthy.
Devin Hester [Chicago Bears] - At a surprising age 30, Hester's future will surely be evaluated in the front office. With no return touchdowns a year ago, he'll need to break off one or two this year to bring back the intrigue.
Jimmy Graham [New Orleans Saints] - At worst, Jimmy Graham has been the clear cut number two tight end in the league for the past two seasons. With elite athleticism and a natural feel for outmuscling defenders in space, Graham is a lethal weapon that figures to be a top priority for the Saints this offseason. In all likelihood, his new deal will exceed that of Gronkowski's signed not too long ago.
Jermichael Finley [Green Bay Packers] - The longtime underperformer seems to be primed for a huge season. Having packed on additional weight this offseason, the coaching staff has raved about his change in attitude and performance. Of course there's reason to be reluctant with Finley who has struggled with drops and has failed to play up to his potential. However, if he can put it all together, he should be handsomely rewarded again in the offseason.
Dennis Pitta [Baltimore Ravens] - The Ravens expect Pitta to return this season and play a big role in their offense down the stretch. Unless Ed Dickson overcomes his early season struggles or Dallas Clark knocks a couple years off his age, Pitta will hold more value for the Ravens than for any other team, making a new contract in the offseason very likely.
Brandon Pettigrew [Detroit Lions] - Plagued by drops and miscues, Brandon Pettigrew has been frustrating for the Lions. He's a solid blocker and has size as a receiver indicating that he'll get some attention this offseason. Though he may still hold value for the Lions, they know best as to his limitations and value.
Fred Davis [Washington Redskins] - This year figures to be the final shot for Fred Davis in Washington. Though he was solid early on last year before injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season, the Redskins offense survived fine without him. He'll have to find a role for himself and a quick connection with Griffin if he wants to stay in the picture.
Brandon Myers [New York Giants] - It'll be interesting to see how Myers fits in an offense drastically different from the one he excelled in in Oakland. The Giants rolled the dice on Myers and may not be afraid to do the same regardless of how he performs this season.
Dustin Keller [Miami Dolphins] - After an unfortunate gruesome knee injury, Keller's rehabbing will be monitored throughout the offseason. It would be a surprise to see him at any point next season, but it would surely be an encouraging storyline.
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