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2013 NFL free agents: The shrinking wide receiver market

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Slowly but surely, the market for wide receivers is drying up.

USA TODAY Sports

The free agent market is never as robust as it first appears. Teams use the franchise tag or hammer out new contracts to keep their players from slipping away. That's already happening to the wide receiver market, following Kansas City's deal with Dwayne Bowe and reports of a looming deal that would keep Brian Hartline in Miami. One of the real winners this spring could be Danny Amendola, whose asking price goes up with every contract extension signed.

Look at the top five free agent receivers listed this morning at SB Nation:

1. Wes Welker, New England Patriots

2. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams

4. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers

5. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins

Agree or disagree with the order, it's going to look a lot different on Tuesday. Welker and Hartline are said to be nearing deals with their teams. Mike Wallace will get a big deal, Greg Jennings will get the second-biggest (though maybe not $12 million per season), and from there you've got Danny Amendola.

Suddenly, a $6 million per year deal isn't such a stretch, not with a handful of teams, including teams like the Bengals who could really use a second receiver, with oodles of cap space.

After that, you get names like Julian Edelman, Brandon Gibson or Donnie Avery (remember him?) ... none of which sounds like the kind of answers the Rams are looking for at the position.

A few takeaways here:

1) Would the Rams be wise to invest in a guy like Wallace or Jennings? At 30, Jennings doesn't exactly fit with the team's stated goals of adding younger free agents to grow with the team. What about Wallace, who will be hotly pursued? Those are really the only two free agents better than Amendola.

2) How much is Amendola worth to the team?

3) With two picks in the first round, the Rams have a good shot at one of the draft's better receivers. But how much of an upgrade is that for 2013?

4) Can the Rams find offensive cogs elsewhere? A tight end like Jared Cook or Tyler Eifert in the draft?

5) The offensive potential this year is mostly tied up in what a trio of players can produce in their second seasons in the NFL. Brian Quick, Chris Givens and Isaiah Pead need to take big leaps forward in 2013 for the Rams offense to be a better unit. Free agents and the draft can help that process, but those guys represent the core of the roster, along with Sam Bradford.