Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Wide Receivers: On the Move?

Friday, January 11, 2013

We'll delve into this year's free agency class in February, when the March 12 signing period approaches. In this On the Move series, we're examining candidates for offseason release and trade based on performance, team fit, and/or contract situation. The following are receivers currently under contract for 2013, but who may still be playing elsewhere when the season begins.

For potentially On the Move Quarterbacks, click here.
For potentially On the Move Running Backs, click here.

Wide Receivers

Release Candidates:

Miles Austin -- Austin is still an effective slot receiver and quality NFL starter, but his $6.732 million base salary is hefty for the third option in Dallas' passing game. While the Cowboys would certainly prefer to retain Austin if he accepted a pay cut, they'd save $5 million in cap space if he declined and were released. Austin turns 29 in June. Recurring hamstring and lower-leg injuries have cost him some explosiveness since back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in 2009 and 2010.

Anquan Boldin -- Like Austin, Boldin is still a productive receiver, but his on-field impact no longer matches his bloated base salary ($6 million). 32 years old and lacking separation skills, Boldin is essentially a 6-foot-1, 230-pound tight end at this stage of his career. The Ravens likely want him back, but Boldin may have to agree to a pay reduction. Baltimore is tight up against the 2013 cap.

Santana Moss -- Moss turns 34 in June and has devolved into a rotational slot receiver, playing only 45 percent of Washington's 2012 offensive snaps. The Redskins could free up nearly $2.5 million under the salary cap by releasing Moss and moving forward with their younger receivers.

Nate Washington -- Kenny Britt's balky knees may discourage Tennessee from parting ways with Washington -- one of their top three receivers -- but his $4.2 million base salary is on the rich side for a wideout who managed under 50 catches and 800 yards in 16 games this past season. While Washington still has value as a situational deep threat, the pay doesn't match the production.

Kevin Walter -- The Texans were close to releasing Walter last offseason. Instead, he accepted a $1.5 million salary reduction before turning in another pedestrian season as a possession and run-blocking receiver. Walter is due a $3.5 base salary in 2013, none of which is guaranteed.

Devin Hester -- Increasingly ineffective in the return game and never an impact receiver, Hester threatened retirement after the dismissal of longtime Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Hester is owed a $1.86 million salary for 2013, in addition to an undisclosed offseason roster bonus.

Mario Manningham -- The two-year, $7.375 million contract signed by Manningham during the 2012 offseason was really a one-year commitment because he has no guaranteed money for 2013. After battling a balky shoulder all year, Manningham's season ended in late December due to a torn ACL and PCL in his left knee. By releasing Manningham shortly after the season, the 49ers could free up $3.95 million in base salary and bonuses, with about $3 million of it coming off their cap.

Nate Burleson -- Going on age 32 after fracturing his right leg in October, Burleson isn't worth half of his scheduled $4.5 million salary. The veteran slot receiver has sounded open to a pay cut, but may have to slash his pay all the way to the league minimum in order to stay with the Lions. Detroit is not rich on cap space and the days of Burleson being a difference maker are long gone.

Steve Breaston -- Perhaps Breaston will get a longer look from new coach Andy Reid, but Romeo Crennel's staff had no use for him whatsoever. Breaston was a healthy scratch six times in 2012 and a non-factor when he did play, setting career lows across the board. In December, Crennel told reporters that Breaston wasn't playing because he didn't understand the offense. Kansas City could save roughly $1 million in cap space and free up $3.8 million in salary by cutting Breaston.

Michael Jenkins -- Nicknamed "Molasses Mike" for his inability to create separation as a route runner, Jenkins should be one of GM Rick Spielman's easiest offseason cuts. Going on age 31, Jenkins is due $3.25 million in salary and bonuses. The Vikings must overhaul their receiver corps this spring, arming eye-dropping quarterback Christian Ponder with some legit vertical threats.

Early Doucet -- After flashing promise as a slot receiver in 2011 and earning a two-year, $4 million contract last offseason, Doucet took a big step back in 2012 with a flurry of drops and multitude of injuries. Doucet fell to Arizona's No. 4 receiver by season's end, behind Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, and Michael Floyd. The Cardinals could free up $1.7 million in cap space by cutting him.

Mike Thomas -- The Lions' deadline trade for Thomas was a complete flop. Detroit surrendered a fifth-round pick for Thomas on October 30, and he struggled to learn the offense while playing inefficiently on the field. Despite Titus Young's suspension and Ryan Broyles' year-ending ACL tear, Thomas was buried behind Kris Durham and converted tight end Tony Scheffler by the end of the year. His $1.45 million salary is manageable for 2013, but the Lions may prefer to move on.

Jacoby Jones -- Jones earned a Pro Bowl berth for his kick-return prowess, but he's owed a combined $4 million in non-guaranteed salary and bonuses in 2013. The Ravens would certainly prefer to hold onto their special teams difference maker, but they may deem that price too steep.

Ben Obomanu -- A rotational fourth-receiver type and special teamer, Obomanu's season ended in Week 8 due to a wrist injury, the severity of which was never disclosed. The Seahawks could create $1.75 million in salary cap relief by releasing Obomanu this offseason.

More Murky Futures:

Percy Harvin -- Although coach Leslie Frazier has publicly promised Harvin will be back in 2013, Christian Ponder recently spoke of Harvin in the past tense. "He was a good teammate," Ponder said. Harvin requested a trade last offseason and has had issues with management and coaches since. He's now in a contract year, and it may be difficult for the Vikings to justify committing big money to a player who causes organizational turmoil. It's also worth noting that they went 5-2 without Harvin during the 2012 regular season. Plugged-in Vikings columnist Judd Zulgad suggested Friday that the Patriots would go hard after Harvin if he hit the trade block. "BB loves Percy," Zulgad tweeted. BB is Bill Belichick.

Jeremy Maclin -- Toward the end of another injury-plagued, largely disappointing season, the Philadelphia Inquirer speculated that Maclin could be made available for offseason trade. Maclin has never played with physicality, and 2013 is the final year of his rookie deal. If the Eagles don't intend to sign him long term, this will be their last chance to get something for him via trade.

Santonio Holmes -- Coming off a Lisfranc fracture and a major disappointment since inking a five-year, $45.25 million contract in the 2011 offseason, Holmes has a $7.5 million guarantee on his 2013 salary of $11 million. The Jets' in-flux front office would likely strongly consider cutting ties with Holmes had ex-GM Mike Tannenbaum not left behind such a bad contract, but Holmes will be back with the club in 2013.

Titus Young -- A true team cancer, Young attempted to sabotage his own team's offense by lining up in the wrong place on multiple snaps during Detroit's Week 11 loss to Green Bay. He was selfishly dissatisfied with not getting the ball enough. While Young possesses the ability to run by coverage and could be a high-impact receiver if his head were on straight, the Lions appear very close to giving up on him after benching Young for the final six weeks of the 2012 season. They will listen to trade offers if Young doesn't report to the offseason program with a new mindset.

Darrius Heyward-Bey -- The Raiders may put out offseason feelers to gauge league-wide interest in Heyward-Bey, who proved an inconsistent misfit for first-year OC Greg Knapp's West Coast system. The former No. 7 overall pick in the draft's whopping $7.721 million salary will prove prohibitive for any potential trade, however, leaving Oakland with a decision of whether to cut "DHB" outright or stick with him for one last year.

Laurent Robinson -- Perhaps the most predictable bust of 2012 free agency, it was recurring concussions that did Robinson in, as opposed to ineffectiveness on the field. In November, Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey acknowledged that Robinson may not play football again after suffering four concussions in a four-month span. Jacksonville remains on the hook for Robinson's guaranteed 2013 base salary of $2.6 million. Releasing him would cause a $9 million cap hit.

Andre Roberts -- Roberts showed himself to be a serviceable NFL starter in 2012, setting career highs in catches (64), yards (759), and touchdowns (5). He was a bit of a movable chess piece wideout, a poor man's version of Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown. If the Cardinals keep Early Doucet as a slot receiver with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd outside, Roberts could be a somewhat attractive trade chip. He's entering the final year of his rookie deal and probably not a candidate for extension. More likely, Arizona will release Doucet and use Roberts as its slot receiver in 2013.

Brandon LaFell -- LaFell fell short of expectations in his first opportunity to be a full-time receiver, battling injuries and failing to clear 700 yards. LaFell now enters the final season on his rookie contract. If Carolina had a realistic in-house option to take over opposite Steve Smith, LaFell might be shopped for a late-round pick. As is, he'll probably be back in the same role in 2013. The Panthers are tight up against the cap and won't be signing any big-time free agent receivers.

Damian Williams -- Another underwhelming contract-year receiver, Williams was Tennessee's No. 4 wideout in 2012, catching 30 balls for 324 yards and no touchdowns. He's behind Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, and Nate Washington on the depth chart. Williams might attract late-round pick offers on the trade block. Titans management seems unlikely to pursue a contract extension.

Arrelious Benn -- After missing all of Greg Schiano's first training camp with an MCL tear, Benn was lucky to make the Bucs' Opening Day roster. A November shoulder injury sent Benn to injured reserve after a four-catch season. Lacking a future in Tampa, Benn is in a contract year and carries little to no trade value. The Bucs would probably jump at the chance to salvage a seventh-round conditional pick via trade.

Austin Pettis -- A holdover former third-round pick from the Billy Devaney regime, Pettis has done nothing through two NFL seasons to suggest he's anything more than an oversized slot receiver lacking playmaking ability. Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead will continue to remodel St. Louis' roster this offseason, targeting the receiver position for upgrades. Pettis could be an odd man out.

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