Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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The 2011 Wide Receiver Market

Friday, May 20, 2011

Release Candidates

1. Roy Williams, Cowboys

Scouting Report: Williams maxed out his talent under Mike Martz in '06 -- his lone Pro Bowl season -- and it's been downhill from there. Though he routinely draws rave reviews in practice, Williams seems to have packed it in when the bullets fly since signing a six-year, $54 million contract in 2008. Prone to drops and fumbles, Williams has struggled to get open against single teams while feuding with the coaching staff. It's well known in Dallas that new coach Jason Garrett is not one of Williams' proponents. Entering his age-30 campaign, Williams is due a $5.11 million salary in 2011. He lost his starting job to rookie Dez Bryant down last season's stretch.

Availability: Williams is also said to be due a roster bonus that brings his total would-be 2011 compensation to $9.25 million. A third receiver now, it's difficult to imagine him returning without a drastic pay cut. Williams' connections throughout the league include Martz in Chicago and Wade Phillips in Houston. He'd essentially be a rehab project in another locale.

Prediction: Released, signs with Texans.

2. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals

Scouting Report: In Ochocinco's defense, he spent the vast majority of last season doubled up while T.O. preyed on single coverage on the opposite side. Clearly unable to separate from loaded defenses, however, Ocho's production hit rock bottom as he refused to go across the middle on crossing routes to avoid the double teams. He feuded openly with Marvin Lewis after the season, and multiple reports insist Ochocinco has "lost his nerve and work ethic," and even "gone off the deep end." He is an aging, declining athlete with a questionable will to win. Once a speed receiver, Ocho has averaged just 12.54 yards per reception in his last 42 games.

Availability: Cincinnati turned the page on Ochocinco by drafting A.J. Green, and the 33-year-old career Bengal will be cut once transactions are allowed. Ocho won't have a big market, but there are multiple connectable teams. Redskins owner Dan Snyder wanted Ocho desperately two years ago, and still has a veteran receiver need. Ocho's old position coach, Hue Jackson, is now the head man in Oakland. He and Bill Belichick are mutual admirers. New Falcons quarterbacks coach Bob Bratkowski was Ochocinco's offensive coordinator in Cincinnati.

Prediction: Released, signs with Patriots.

3. Chris Chambers, Chiefs

Scouting Report: Temporarily rejuvenated after being claimed off waivers from San Diego in October 2009, Chambers seemed to call it a career last year. He was handed a three-year, $15 million contract in March, failed to get open despite much more defensive attention paid to bookend Dwayne Bowe, and was benched after Kansas City's Week 4 bye in favor of rotating undrafted rookies. Chambers had some big-play ability in his prime, but his hands have long been suspect and he's now 33 years old. He averaged 9.68 yards per reception last season.

Availability: The Chiefs used their first-round pick on Jonathan Baldwin, who will be the new starter opposite Bowe. Chambers definitely won't return at his $2.9 million salary. He has background with Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Ravens OC Cam Cameron, but neither will rush to sign a declining wideout after both upgraded their receiver corps in the draft.

Prediction: Released, signs with team that suffers injuries at receiver.

4. Donald Driver, Packers

Scouting Report: Driver's legacy in Green Bay may the only factor keeping him afloat. After dual knee surgeries in the 2010 offseason, Driver was rarely able to practice during the year and his big-play ability was mitigated en route to a career-low 11.1 yards per catch and his worst post-reception average since 2004. This was despite the Packers making an honest effort to scale back Driver's snaps and use him almost strictly in the slot. Driver is now 36, so the arrow is pointing downward. He's also surrounded by much younger, more explosive receivers.

Availability: We suspect Driver is safe for one more season, but the Packers could easily afford to release him this year. He's due $5 million in 2011 salary and bonuses, and No. 64 overall pick Randall Cobb will be ready to handle slot receiver duties sooner rather than later. Green Bay may ultimately have to decide between keeping Driver or free agent James Jones.

Prediction: Stays with Packers, retires in 2012.

5. Bernard Berrian, Vikings

Scouting Report: Berrian signed a six-year, $43.4 million blockbuster with the Vikes in 2008, delivered a career-best 964-yard first season, and has all but fallen off the map since. He was plagued by hamstring problems throughout 2009, and in 2010 became one of the least effective receivers in football. A deep threat once upon a time, the 30-year-old Berrian is averaging 10.48 yards per reception across his last 30 appearances. He adds nothing as a blocker, lacks any hint of physicality in his game, and is due a $3.9 million salary for the 2011 season.

Availability: ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Berrian was in danger of being released in March. The Vikings intend to sign Sidney Rice long term, and he has supplanted Berrian atop the depth chart along with Percy Harvin. Berrian will resurface elsewhere, perhaps with old OC Darrell Bevell in Seattle or wide receivers coach Ron Turner in Indianapolis.

Prediction: Released, signs with Seahawks.

More Wide Receiver Release Candidates: Devery Henderson, Michael Jenkins, Justin Gage, Patrick Crayton, Antwaan Randle El, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, Craig Davis.

Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva

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