Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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The 2012 Wide Receiver Market

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Prediction: Cardinals on a three-year, $16 million contract.

6. Robert Meachem, Saints

Scouting Report: Although he possesses ideal size and legit downfield playmaking ability, Meachem's career has been filled with stops and starts due to injuries, questionable commitment, and the Saints' mix-and-match approach at receiver. Meachem has sat between 40-45 receptions and 620-720 yards in each of the past the past three years, but he's had 22 games of fewer than 30 yards compared to just eight games over 75 yards during that span.

Availability: With Drew Brees, Marques Colston, and Carl Nicks as GM Mickey Loomis' top priorities, Meachem figures to be the odd man out in the Big Easy. The 49ers, Bengals, Bears, Raiders, and Redskins should be interested in the services of a physically gifted 27-year-old receiver.

Prediction: 49ers on a three-year, $13 million contract.

7. Mario Manningham, Giants

Scouting Report: Manningham ran in the 4.6s coming out of Michigan, but his bread and butter is the vertical passing game. An impressive 38 of his 160 career receptions have gone for 20 yards or longer, and Manningham's ability to make difficult over-the-shoulder catches showed up on the biggest play of Super Bowl XLVI. Manningham is not a physical wide receiver, however, and plays smaller than his size (6'0/185). While he consistently creates separation downfield, Manningham isn't going to make any plays over the middle or in double coverage. He needs to be a No. 2 or 3 receiver and would be stretched as more.

Availability: After Victor Cruz's franchise record-breaking year, Manningham's time in New York is up at age 26. The Giants won't engage in a bidding war for a player no higher than third on the depth chart at receiver. Although SI.com's Peter King has predicted Manningham will collect at least $7 million per season on the open market, we see that as highly optimistic.

Prediction: Bears on a four-year, $22 million contract.

8. Pierre Garcon, Colts

Scouting Report: An inconsistent deep threat with a penchant for taking advantage of suspect secondaries, Garcon bounced back from a drop-plagued 2010 season to mirror Reggie Wayne's production. Digging deeper, though, all six of his touchdowns and nearly half (44.5 percent) of Garcon's 947 receiving yards came in three games versus the Bucs, Chiefs, and Pats due in large part to broken coverage, poor tackling, and garbage-time defensive effort. The talent is there, but the production is spotty.

Availability: Owner Jim Irsay has claimed Garcon and pass rusher Robert Mathis as his two highest priorities in free agency, though Garcon is expected to explore his market before deciding whether to return to Indy. Turning 26 in August, Garcon seems likely to team with Austin Collie as Andrew Luck's top two receivers.

Prediction: Colts on a four-year, $19 million contract.

9. Laurent Robinson, Cowboys

Scouting Report: A lean, long-armed wideout with 4.38 wheels coming out of Illinois State, Robinson appeared poised for an impressive career after catching 37 passes for 437 yards in only six starts as a rookie. Injuries and inconsistency plagued Robinson for the next three years, but he rehabbed his stock with career highs in receptions (54), yards (858), and touchdowns (11) in Dallas last season. Robinson abused single coverage while Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten drew the vast majority of defense's attention. While Robinson has some good-looking tools, the sudden breakout as a fifth-year player is concerning. He's been incredibly brittle, and Robinson's track record inspires no confidence that he wouldn’t be a free agent bust.

Availability: Robinson has made it clear that staying in Dallas is his first choice and money won't be the driving factor in his decision. His player rep, on the other hand, expects Robinson to attract plenty of interest as a 27-year-old coming off a career year. Owner/GM Jerry Jones has said re-signing Robinson will be a top priority. That sentiment will be tested if the injury-prone red-zone threat lands an offer with high-dollar guarantees. We suspect he won't.

Prediction: Cowboys on a two-year, $8 million contract.

10. Braylon Edwards, 49ers

Scouting Report: When healthy, Edwards is a smooth deep threat with a knack for creating separation downfield. He is 6-foot-3, 214 and ran 4.45 coming out of Michigan. Edwards is also an underrated run blocker. Off-field issues crushed his 2011 market value, however, and medical woes may do the same this spring. Edwards pleaded guilty to DUI in 2010 and was fined for violating the league's substance abuse policy in September. Another infraction could result in suspension. Edwards tore his right meniscus in Week 2 with the 49ers and missed the next five weeks. He separated his right shoulder almost immediately after returning and was completely ineffective down the stretch. Edwards was cut on December 27. No team put in a waiver claim.

Availability: As a suspension risk, Edwards could only manage a one-year, $1 million offer from the 49ers last summer. After bombing spectacularly in San Francisco, Edwards received no interest upon being waived in late December. Jets coach Rex Ryan hinted that Edwards would be welcomed back with open arms. Bengals owner/GM Mike Brown has a history of collecting name players on the cheap once their value has reached its nadir.

Prediction: Bengals on a one-year, $3 million contract.

11. Early Doucet, Cardinals

Scouting Report: With a 4.56 forty time and 34.5-inch vertical, Doucet is an average athlete lacking downfield playmaking ability. He's spent his first four NFL seasons rotating in the slot for Arizona, playing behind Steve Breaston, Jerheme Urban, and Andre Roberts. Though known as a tough receiver, the 26-year-old has battled a laundry list of injuries, most notably fractured ribs, sports hernia surgery, recurring hamstring woes, and an abdominal strain. Doucet did seem to take a step forward in 2011, setting career highs in receptions (54), yards (689), and touchdowns (5) while making it through the first 16-game season of his career.

Availability: The Cardinals are expected to let Doucet hit the open market on March 13. The Arizona coaching staff appears to have determined that Doucet is a slot receiver only and a replaceable player. Doucet has some history with new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who ran Arizona's offense during Doucet's rookie year. Chiefs assistant head coach Maurice Carthon was also a position coach on the Cardinals' staff when Doucet entered the NFL.

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

12. Randy Moss, "Retirement"

Scouting Report: Contrary to popular belief, Moss' decline didn't happen suddenly in 2010. Moss' numbers began hitting the skids around midseason in 2009, as he averaged under 53 yards per game in the final eight weeks, including the playoffs. His career spiral became more obvious the following year, when three teams essentially gave up on Moss during a three-month span. Moss sat out the 2011 season, allegedly in "retirement," and later cited off-field issues for his decision not to play. Now 35, Moss can likely still run fast in a straight line, stands 6-foot-4, and has some of the softest hands on the planet. At the very least, Moss could make for an effective clear-out route runner, draw some double coverage and make the players around him better. But is he willing to fight for tough catches in traffic, or to accept a diminished role as a No. 2 receiver? The feeling here is that if Moss is to make a successful comeback, it will be mostly up to him.

Availability: The Jets preferred Moss over Plaxico Burress last year, but word on the street had the future Hall of Famer only willing to return to New England. While many teams will be wary of the potential headache, the Jets are both needy at receiver and willing to take calculated risks. Moss will come cheap, and he's not going to command much guaranteed money.

Prediction: Jets on a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

Other Wide Receiver Free Agents: Ted Ginn, Plaxico Burress, Roscoe Parrish, Jerome Simpson, Jerricho Cotchery, Eddie Royal, Steve Smith, Mark Clayton, Harry Douglas, Andre Caldwell, Josh Morgan, Donte' Stallworth, Legedu Naanee, Eric Weems, Terrell Owens, Deion Branch, Chaz Schilens, Devin Aromashodu, Mike Sims-Walker, Derek Hagan, Patrick Crayton.

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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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