July 23, 2014

NFL Free Agency Primer: Part 1- Wide Receivers

The NFL’s free agency period begins in two weeks. The Browns are expected to be somewhat active participants with a ton of cap space to play with. Over that time period we’ll look at who is available and who the Browns might target.

Browns training camp pads

We’ll start on the offensive side of the ball with the receivers. First, the results from last season-

RECEIVING
NAME REC TAR YDS AVG TD LONG 20+ YDS/G FUM FUML YAC 1DN
Josh Gordon 50 96 805 16.1 5 71 12 50.3 1 1 304 40
Greg Little 53 91 647 12.2 4 43 11 40.4 0 0 164 36
Benjamin Watson 49 82 501 10.2 3 27 5 31.3 1 0 196 27
Trent Richardson 51 70 367 7.2 1 27 5 24.5 0 0 448 18
Travis Benjamin 18 37 298 16.6 2 69 4 21.3 1 1 67 13
Mohamed Massaquoi 17 33 254 14.9 0 54 3 28.2 0 0 103 11
Jordan Cameron 20 39 226 11.3 1 28 4 16.1 0 0 106 12
Chris Ogbonnaya 24 32 187 7.8 0 38 2 12.5 1 1 200 10
Jordan Norwood 13 19 137 10.5 0 27 2 68.5 0 0 71 5
Josh Cooper 8 18 106 13.3 0 28 1 17.7 0 0 48 6
Josh Cribbs 7 11 63 9.0 0 24 1 3.9 0 0 44 2
Alex Smith 13 18 47 3.6 0 17 0 3.9 0 0 48 2
Brandon Jackson 2 4 20 10.0 0 14 0 10.0 0 0 26 2
Montario Hardesty 2 5 16 8.0 0 9 0 1.2 0 0 20 1
Brad Smelley 1 1 3 3.0 0 3 0 1.5 0 0 0 0

The Browns have a few free agents of their own on this list of course. Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi are both unrestricted free agents. Norwood is a restricted rights free agent. We’ve heard plenty about and from Josh Cribbs, who it seems is unlikely to be back with the Browns despite his wishes. The player you don’t hear much about is Massaquoi. With his injury history and several young slot receivers in the system, don’t expect the Browns to bring back MoMass who never quite lived up to second round pick expectations.

Josh Gordon is essentially Cleveland’s second round pick this season. He and Greg Little will likely be the foundation of this group for the foreseeable future. Unless the Browns spend some crazy money this off season.

The Free Agents-

Top of the class:

Dwayne Bowe – KC

Victor Cruz – NYG – (Restricted)

Mike Wallace – PIT

Greg Jennings – GB

Wes Welker – NE

Danario Alexander – SD – (Restricted)

The Rest:

Donald Jones – BUF – (Restricted)

David Nelson – BUF – (Restricted)

Ruvell Martin – BUF

Louis Murphy – CAR

Johnny Knox – CHI

Andrew Hawkins – CIN

Brandon Tate – CIN

Jordan Norwood – CLE – (Restricted)

Josh Cribbs – CLE

Mohamed Massaquoi – CLE

Kevin Ogletree – DAL

Brandon Stokley – DEN

Kassim Osgood – DET

Donald Driver – GB

Donnie Avery – IND

Austin Collie – IND

Micheal Spurlock – JAC

Steve Breaston – KC

Marlon Moore – MIA – (Restricted)

Jabar Gaffney – MIA

Brian Hartline – MIA

Devin Aromashodu – MIN

Jerome Simpson – MIN

Deion Branch – NE

Julian Edelman – NE

Donte’ Stallworth – NE

Greg Camarillo – NO

Devery Henderson – NO

Courtney Roby – NO

Ramses Barden – NYG

Domenik Hixon – NYG

Jason Hill – NYJ

Braylon Edwards

Chaz Schilens – NYJ

Duke Calhoun – OAK

Derek Hagan – OAK

Emmanuel Sanders – PIT – (Restricted)

Plaxico Burress – PIT

Seyi Ajirotutu – SD – (Restricted)

Richard Goodman – SD – (Restricted)

Braylon Edwards – SEA

Ted Ginn – SF

Randy Moss – SF

Danny Amendola – STL

Titus Young – STL

Brandon Gibson – STL

Steve Smith – STL

Roscoe Parrish – TB

Sammie Stroughter – TB

Brandon Banks – WAS – (Restricted)

Terrell Owens – FA

Chad Johnson – FA

Mark Clayton – FA

Adrian Arrington – FA

Mike Williams – FA

Lee Evans – FA

Mike Sims-Walker – FA

Legedu Naanee – FA

—-

A few of the top names on the list could still get the franchise tag placed on them. Kansas City has used the tag on Bowe before and might do so again if they can’t get an extension negotiated. Jennings could be tagged by Green Bay but he is rumored to like Miami. New England would like to bring back Welker, but as always with the Patriots- they aren’t afraid to let a WR walk. Victor Cruz will get a first round tender placed on him by the Giants.

 Wallace is the downfield threat that Cleveland hasn’t had since Braylon Edwards was catching half the passes thrown to him. Could Josh Gordon become this WR? It’s possible, though he doesn’t have Wallace’s speed. Travis Benjamin has the speed, but not the size. Getting Wallace would cost the Browns a ton, but it would also hurt division rival Pittsburgh in the process.

Alexander is intriguing. He had a career year after signing with the Chargers and playing for Norv Turner (658 yards and 7 TDs.) He has an injury history, which could scare San Diego off, and maybe even the Browns. Turner certainly knows him.

The Browns have had Steve Breaston in for a look. Meh. The only other name on this list that could make a difference in my opinion is Danny Amendola.

  • JHop

    Bringing in Ted Ginn could solve a few of our problems. He’d add speed to the WR position and could play the slot if needed and would fill our kick return void in the likely event that Cribbs is gone. He’d also come relatively cheap and he’s still pretty young compared to some of the other guys on this list.

  • Robbie S

    A few guys I wouldn’t mind being signed for the slot / #2 role (if we we’re to move Little to the slot):

    Louis Murphy
    Andrew Hawkins
    Brian Hartline
    Julian Edelman

    Or heck, maybe we can re-sign Braylon Edwards, Donte Stallworth, Derek Anderson, and Brady Quinn! Believeland!

    (Brayon is listed twice.)

  • Lucas Vaas

    What ever happened to Lee Evans? he was good then he was just gone?

  • mgbode

    can Louis Murphy stay healthy? we could use some depth and I like the speed options though. Murphy and Ginn certainly qualify as “cheap speed” options.

    the only WR I would pay big money is Wes Welker. getting a couple of the cheaper options though fills our depth void without touching our draft picks. I like that idea (and want to reboot away from our current Norwood/Cooper/MoMass depth).

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    for the ‘vet leader to show young bloods the ropes’ i kinda like domenik hixon. two super bowl wins, 6’2″, ran 4.39 in his pro day, tore his right ACL twice. AKRON. the giants blogs i’ve checked show a majority of their fans want him back and view him as reliable and classy.

    ive always liked louis murphy from watching the raiders. 6’3″ runs in the 4.3s.

    also, though not on your list, i think it’s questionable that ravens keep 32 y.o. anquan boldin. even if you assume they let kruger and reed and cary williams walk, they still need to sign flacco. plus pitta. plus ellerbe. the math becomes very tight. boldin’s $6MM might be a casualty.

  • mgbode

    i’ll go on that ledge. the ravens will not let Boldin walk.

  • BenRM

    IF WE HAD ONLY SIGNED LEE EVANS MANGINI WOULD BE THE BEST COACH EVER AND WIN SUPER BOWLS!

  • TSR3000

    I really hope we go after Wallace, Jennings or Bowe. I know it might cost us some cash but we need to stretch the field. Then we can focus the rest of our FA money on CB,S, LB.

  • JK

    I’m more than in for Wallace, I’d love to have Wallace/Gordon on the outside w Little in a slot just like Jennings for GB. That being said I would also be down w Bowe as a 2nd choice, and sign me up for nah for Jennings because like I said I’d like to see Little in that role and don’t think he can help out team much in general.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    I’d love to see Brian Hartline (1000+ yards in ’12) added to our WR mix. He should come at a fraction of the cost of the Bowe-Wallace-Jennings types.

  • BenRM

    UGH – Why didn’t we just sign Lee Evans?

  • Harv 21

    Wallace would really change the landscape but I’m just assuming that, given his expected asking price and our multiple defensive needs, Banner will encourage Norv and Chud to scheme vertical threats in a more cost-effective way.

    Also believe that by the end of last season Gordon was already a deep threat on a par with Braylon. Had he hung on to that easy wide open bomb (the one that made Jimmy flip out in the loge) his stats would have skewed further upward … point is, he can get wide open on deep routes and defenses already reduce the cheating toward the line. One more decent receiver and Norv has plenty to work with.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m with you. He is very under-rated player (probably because he looks like a “sure-handed possession receiver,” wink, wink). The kid can play, he would come relatively “cheap,” and I wouldn’t mind the Browns bringing him back to the state that’s round on the ends and hi in the middle.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I think there’s good value out there. For instance, it might be realistic to sign Wallace and Hartline. Imagine that WR depth chart.

    Wallace
    Gordon
    Hartline
    Little

    That…is a legit WR lineup.

  • mgbode

    if Wallace wants Vincent Jackson money (as rumored), then that would not be a good value though

  • Eric G

    1,083 to be exact with one game of 250 yards. That means he averaged 50 yards in the rest of the season. Not under-rated in the least.

  • Garry_Owen

    So Hartline “averaged” 67.7 yards a game.

    Victor Cruz “averaged” 68.3 yds/game

    Julio Jones “averaged” 74.9 yds/game

    I’d say relying on an “average per game” statistic is definitionally “under-rating.”

  • Eric G

    You’re talking about 18-35 yards per game difference – seems like a lot to me. I’m not saying it’s the only metric, but I also don’t think he’s any more special than he’s being “rated”.

  • cmm13

    Can’t make that move…he’s a Buckeye.

    The U of M Browns fans would go nuts!

  • Garry_Owen

    That’s some fuzzy math. I think it’s more like .6 to 7.2 yards, but whatever. The point being that nobody “rates” Hartline on par with Cruz or Jones … but your “average yards per game” stat indicates that he is. Ergo, he’s arguably under-rated.

  • Jaker

    “Scrappy” “good hands” “possession” “gym rat”

  • Guest

    Why isnt Amendola listed here? Mark me down as a Hartline/2nd tier FA WR guy. Outside of Vincent Jackson last season, name me big money FA WRs who lived up to their contract? That list will me extremely short. History tells us spending a good amount of cap dollars on big name WRs is a failing proposition.