There has been no position more sought after in this year’s free agent class then Wide Receiver. Four playoff teams from last year made huge acquisitions to boost some offenses that were already powerful. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest moves, and talk about what kind of impact these guys will have in their new jerseys.
5. Anquan Boldin to San Francisco– Earlier in the offseason, Boldin said he would retire if the Ravens didn’t want him. Well, now he will be suiting up for the same team that he beat on the world’s biggest stage: the 49ers. He will also be playing for the brother of his old coach.
The 49ers have one of the most dynamic offenses in football. Colin Kaeprenick has emerged as a young star, and we have just begun to see what this special talent can do. Last season, Michael Crabtree finally emerged as the big game threat we thought he would be after his college days. I mean, who could forget this play? Him and Kaep have already developed chemistry. That’s dangerous.
Oh yeah, and did we forget about their other two stud players? Frank Gore has put together monster year after monster year, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in the next two to three years. And of course, we also have Vernon Davis. Davis was largely considered a bust when his career floundered under old head coach Mike Singletary. But now with Jim Harbaugh at the helm, he has developed into the third best tight end in the game, behind Jimmy Graham and Gronk.
Now, you bring in Anquan Boldin. Randy Moss is out, and he was never really a legitimate second receiver last year. Boldin gives them the threat on the other side that will force defenses to give single coverage to either Davis or Crabtree on every play. Boldin opens the field more, which also helps Kaeprenick use his mobility more effectively.
Boldin will have a big impact for the Bay area team, but it really is a temporary move. He only has one or two good years left in him, but he’s still a talented player and great acquisition Considering how close this team was to the Super Bowl last year, this is just the kind of move they need to get that extra push to the title.
4. Mike Wallace to Miami- Even though Wallace landed the biggest contract of anyone on this list, he doesn’t figure to make the biggest impact. At the moment, Wallace is primarily a deep threat. There are big questions about his hands and his route running, two things he will need to address in South Beach.
If the Dophins want to utilize their new weapon more, they should run some formations with him in the slot. It was a role he was not needed for in Pittsburgh, as Antonio Brown was a better option there. But when you look at how the Miami offense is built, it’s an option that could prove very effective. I’m of the belief that the Dolphins would be better suited to go for another outside option at wide receiver, and move Davone Bess and Brian Hartline into the slots. Both players seem more like Wes Welkers rather then viable second options.
The problem is, there’s no great WR options still available that work for Miami. They can’t afford the top guys left, Greg Jennings and Victor Cruz, and guys like Laurent Robinson and Darrius Heyward-Bey aren’t going to fit in the offense. I love Travon Austin out of West Virginia, but the Fins will have to use their first round pick on him. The Dolphins have issues in other spots they can spend that pick on.
Dolphins fans are hoping that Mike Wallace will be what they thought they were getting in Brandon Marshall. Marshall was a disappointment in Miami, even more so after his monster season last year in Chicago. While I don’t think Wallace will be a bust, I do think they need to develop more to his game to make him worth his money.
3. Danny Amendola to New England – How do you replace a quick weapon with great hands that’s primarily a slot receiver? Get a younger, stronger, slightly slower version of him. Just hours after the Patriots sent their top receiver of the last few years away, they signed the young star from the St. Louis Rams.
The biggest concern for New England fans will be Amendola’s history of injuries. Just last season, Amendola suffered a dislocated shoulder and had triceps surgery. If he can stay healthy though, he should be the perfect new cog in the impressive wheel that is the Belichick-Brady led offense.
Let’s take a look at that offense. Brandon Lloyd was solid at times but too inconsistent to be a #1 threat on the outside, unless they plan on putting Amendola in that roll. The Patriots will be in the market for WR’s in the free agent market and draft, and they should have money to do it. That will be all they really need. We all know they have the two monster tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Amendola is a versatile player, and they can put him basically anywhere, which in New England’s offense, makes him that much more effective.
Many believe that he could be better then Welker. I’m not sure if I buy it yet, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me. The man can ball.
2. Wes Welker to Denver – Speaking of Wes Welker, he finishes runner up on our list. Think about this. Brandon Stokley rejoined the Broncos last season, and registered 45 catches and five touchdowns. In the three seasons before that, Stokley mustered up just 51 catches and four touchdowns. Point is: Peyton Manning made Stokley relevant again.
Now, imagine taking the best slot receiver in years, and one of the best slot options of all time, and pairing him up with a Quarterback like Peyton Manning. Slot receivers are that much more important when placed in a Manning led offense. Manning makes his bread and butter by studying the defenses, making audibles with his guys on the outside, and hitting hot routes. No receiver is deadlier in that offense then the slot guy.
Oh yeah, and they also have Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. I’m struggling to find a wide receiver trio in the NFL that can be more lethal then that. All three will bring different games to the field, making the offense nearly impossible to stop. If Jacob Tamme and Joel Dressens can develop their games more, we could see the remix of the “greatest show on turf“.
If Welker can stay healthy, I’m confident he will contend for the single season reception record, 143 catches. The receiver who holds that record? Marvin Harrison. The Quarterback who threw him those 143 passes? Peyton Manning.
1. Percy Harvin to Seattle- It’s hard to oversell how great a move this could be. Percy Harvin is arguably the most versatile, big play making gadget player in all of football, and he’s just entering the prime of his career at 24 years old. Harvin has notched at least 60 receptions in all of his first four seasons, and he has done it with Christian Ponder throwing it to him the last two seasons.
Now, you give him a guy like Russell Wilson, who himself is a quick, play making Quarterback, and the possibilities could be endless. Speaking of Wilson, do we remember the outrage when Pete Carroll went with the rookie QB in preseason over the big offseason acquisition Matt Flynn? Well how right did Carroll turn out to be? Wilson led this offense to three straight 40+ point games at the end of the season, including a 42 point effort against the NFL’s best defense, the 49ers.
Not to mention that guy Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. Lynch was eating his skittles last season, and was virtually unstoppable at time. I see Lynch as a slightly less talented, but still beast version of Adrian Peterson. Both can beat the defenses with their speed and strength, which is a nearly unstoppable combination.
Harvin joins a receiving core that was lethal at times, but still has much room for improvement. Sidney Rice showed flashes of brillance last year, but was ultimately more inconsistent then anything. Outside of the touchdown that wasn’t against Green Bay, Golden Tate didn’t do much of anything in the big picture. These weapons will have to develop to maximize the effectiveness of Harvin.
This move make the already highly touted Seahawks one of the big Super Bowl favorites for next year. The knock on Harvin is his proneness to injury, but if he can stay healthy, the sky’s the limit.
Who do you think is the biggest Wide Receiver signing? Does Percy Harvin make the Seahawks Super Bowl favorites? Will Danny Amendola fit as a replacement for Welker in New England? Let us know what you think in the comments!