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NFL free agents: WR market remains wide open

Will the Rams go shopping?

Detroit Lions v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

We know that Marvin Jones has chosen to sign with the Jaguars, that Corey Davis is signing with the Titans, and that Nelson Agholor agreed to a deal with the Patriots. But as of Tuesday evening, Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, Curtis Samuel, JuJu Smith-Schuster, TY Hilton, John Brown, Sammy Watkins, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Breshad Perriman, and Rashard Higgins all remain available.

While it is true that this is “only” the tampering period, this is also when a lot of major deals get done and set a precedent for what’s to come next at the position over the following weeks. In the case of wide receivers, teams have clearly not prioritized them as much as the players had hoped and instead the focus has been on edge players, offensive linemen, and veteran stopgaps at quarterback.

(Which is why you trade for Matthew Stafford when you get the chance.)

ESPN’s Dianna Russini tweeted that a free agent wide receiver said that “the WR market is really bad right now” and ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe added that there isn’t any additional cap space coming. Teams have just opted to not spend it on wide receivers.

This moment has been coming for quite some time.

With an influx of receiver talent entering the league on rookie contracts over the last few years, an emphasis on throwing the ball more to slot receivers, tight ends, and running backs, and the fact that it’s become increasingly rare to find wideouts over 29, the wide receiver may be doomed to become the next “running back that doesn’t matter.”

While it is true that most teams do need wide receiver help right now, including the Rams to some degree, it may not be true that most teams feel they need a big outside threat who costs over $10 million per year. Even though many receivers do now make over $10 million annually, some of those contracts have been regrettable while there are quite a few players doing a lot more on bargain deals.

It may pay to have a true number one like Stefon Diggs, but is there a true number one on the free agent market this year? Golladay, Smith-Schuster, and Fuller might like to argue that they are true number ones, or that they could be, but are the teams with cap space feeling particularly ambitious with regards to upgrading at receiver?

Apparently not, and that could benefit the teams that do not have cap space, like the LA Rams.

Though they have already committed a lot of money over the next two years to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, the Rams could use a receiver who gives them a different look than those two or Van Jefferson. With Josh Reynolds as a free agent, perhaps this market simply means that he returns on an extremely team-friendly deal.

Or maybe Sean McVay would like to take a longer look at a wide receiver who he hasn’t worked with yet.

The 6’2, 215 lb Perriman has speed and caught 30 of 60 targets for 505 yards with the New York Jets last season. It could be that Perriman’s numbers will improve with a change of environment and quarterback.

Watkins is familiar to the Rams already and he’s still, unbelievably, only 27. With the Chiefs last season, Watkins had 37 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns. If Corey Davis is leading the market at only $12.5 million per season and $27 million guaranteed, then I imagine that the further down the list you get, the easier it is to find potentially good receivers for barely any guaranteed money at all. John Ross, for example, just signed with the Giants for $2.5 million, only $1 million of which is guaranteed.

And in some cases, this could also open up the trade market, with the Bears reportedly shopping slot receiver Anthony Miller.

The Rams are not desperate for wide receiver help, and that’s exactly why they might be the perfect destination for an undervalued one.