Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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The 2011 Wide Receiver Market

Friday, May 20, 2011

5. Randy Moss, Titans

Scouting Report: Arguably the greatest deep threat in NFL history from 1998 to '09, Moss' game fell apart last year. Perhaps the writing was on the wall at the end of the season before. Moss failed to top 75 yards in any of his final eight games in 2009, and only once exceeded 60 last year. While Moss still commanded double teams to open the 2010 campaign, he struggled to separate and was weeded out of the Patriots' offense by Tom Brady before his October 6 trade to Minnesota. A bad attitude resulted in Moss' release less than a month later. Moss finished the season in Tennessee, playing 19.8 percent of the Titans' offensive snaps in the final four games.

Availability: Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt has confirmed that Moss won't be back, and speculation of a return to New England has been shot down by Patriots beat writers. The Jets are rumored to have some interest in Moss. At this point, he's essentially in the same boat as T.O. but has shown less than Owens recently. It's just hard to say if Moss has any believers left. Another fairly logical match could be St. Louis, where old OC Josh McDaniels is now running the offense.

Prediction: Jets on a one-year, $2 million contract.

6. Mark Clayton, Rams

Scouting Report: Acquired in September for "late-round considerations," Clayton immediately earned a starting job on the Rams and amassed a team-high 306 yards on 23 grabs through four games before tearing his patellar tendon in the first quarter of Week 5. According to his agent, Clayton is now fully recovered. Major knee injuries are always major concerns for NFL receivers, however, and Clayton already possessed average explosiveness for a 5-foot-10, 195-pound wideout. The 22nd overall pick in the 2005 draft, Clayton's career has ultimately been a disappointment. He lacks special qualities and is more possession/slot receiver than deep threat.

Availability: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in March that Clayton's return to the Rams is "all but a slam-dunk." Most teams will balk at Clayton because of the knee and his lack of dominant pre-injury talent. Clayton, turning 29 before the season, had better hope St. Louis' interest remains strong after the team used two middle-round picks on wide receivers.

Prediction: Rams on a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

7. Plaxico Burress, Giants

Scouting Report: Burress began a two-year sentence for felony gun possession in September 2009 and will be released on June 6 for good behavior. After so much prison time at age 34, there's no way to tell what he has left. In his prime, Burress was a physical, 6-foot-5, 232-pound red-zone monster with 27 TDs in his last 42 starts. Lacking quickness and homerun deep speed, Plax atoned with exceptional use of his body to shield defensive backs and get open. He was a pure "hands catcher" with massive mitts and long arms. Criticisms usually referred to his lackadaisical on-field effort and commitment level. Plax has never been a coaching staff favorite.

Availability: The Giants cut Plax five months before his 2009 sentencing, so he will return to the NFL market as an unrestricted free agent. The league's suspension lasted only as long as Burress was behind bars. The Jets were most heavily linked to Plax when it still seemed possible he'd play football in 2009. Other teams connected to him were Tampa Bay and Chicago.

Prediction: Bucs on a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

8. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Ravens

Scouting Report: More talk than walk at this stage of his career, Houshmandzadeh complained his way through a 2010 season that saw him post personal lows across the board since 2003. He repeatedly requested more snaps and targets, but didn't earn it with performance. Housh lacks playmaking ability and run-after-catch skills, and dropped six of his 58 targets as a Raven. Now entering his age-34 season, Houshmandzadeh is only going to get worse. With a reputation as a locker-room lawyer, he'll find slim pickings on the unrestricted free agent market.

Availability: Housh reversed course after the end of Baltimore's season and said he'd like to re-sign. But the Ravens made a pointed effort to get faster at the position, drafting Torrey Smith in round two and Tandon Doss in the fourth. Doss can do everything Housh did as a slot receiver and third-down threat. Housh may have to settle for a minimum contract in-season.

Prediction: Jaguars on a one-year, $865,000 contract.

Other surefire free agent receivers: Antonio Bryant, Kevin Curtis, Brandon Stokley, Devin Aromashodu, Kelley Washington, Donte' Stallworth, Dwayne Jarrett, Sam Hurd, Legedu Naanee, Chansi Stuckey, Michael Clayton, Brian Finneran, Rashied Davis, Greg Lewis.

Three- to Five-Year Restricted Free Agents

1. Santonio Holmes, Jets

Scouting Report: Holmes has been pigeonholed by some as a one-trick pony deep threat, the role he played opposite Hines Ward in Pittsburgh. In reality, Holmes is one of the better "YAC" wideouts in football in addition to a homerun hitter. The 27-year-old has averaged 15.96 yards a catch with 26 touchdowns in 58 career starts, also showing a knack for making big plays in key moments. Holmes is capable of playing all three receiver positions, although he's spent most of his time at split end. When he's 100 percent, there aren't ten better receivers in the game.

Availability: The Jets assigned Holmes a first- and third-round restricted tender, and declared re-signing him their top offseason priority. Holmes said publicly that he won't play for the one-year tag, but New York wants to lock him up long term anyway. The sides should be able to strike an agreement, though it may cost the Jets one or two of their other big-ticket free agents.

Prediction: Jets on a five-year, $50 million contract.

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

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