NFL Free Agency: Wide Receivers
NFL teams will be allowed to sign Free Agents starting at 4 pm ET. on March 17th. We’re a little over a month away, but it’s the perfect time to start the conversation on what players we expect to be on the move in 2021. We’ll start with the wide receiver position in this article and make our way through various positions as we inch closer to the ides of March!
Let us know which destinations you agree and disagree with @ToTheHizzy.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – New York Jets
Smith-Schuster broke onto the scene during the Steelers 2018 campaign by posting a booming 111 catches and 1426 receiving yards. It seemed like he had arrived, but he was benefiting from an elite Antonio Brown in reality. Brown would haul in 15 total touchdowns that year and grab just as many catches; they were an unstoppable tandem! The Steelers losing Brown exposed Smith-Schuster on the field, and his production has shown it the past two seasons.
Juju recorded just 42 catches his first season without Brown; albeit he only played 12 games, he was on pace for half the production from a year prior. Some will say, well, what about the Steelers not having a real Quarterback that season. Okay, that’s fair. Look at last season; Smith-Schuster did record a respectable nine receiving touchdowns on 97 catches, but he only registered 831 total receiving yards.
Despite the decline in Smith-Schusters production, I see him working his way over to the New York Jets; they’ve already shown an inclination to chase the young receiver. I also hear the Jets have an interest in Will Fuller. I think Juju is a better fit over Fuller, and I also believe New York is where Juju wants to be. New York is a huge market, and Smith-Schuster always has his fingers in all pies in regards to leveraging his brand and shaking out every penny of his time in the pros; dancing on logos wasn’t an accident.
The Jets added Mike Lafleur as Offensive Coordinator and Miles Austin as their Wide Receivers Coach. I think these two guys can get a lot out of Juju. Lafleur is following Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh from San Francisco. The Jets will shift to a run-heavy scheme, and Smith- Schuster will be a good match as he has more than desirable blocking skills on top of his playmaking abilities. Miles Austin would also be a great mentor to the young star. Austin had plenty of limelight during his time in Dallas, and I think Juju is a player that will respond to Austin, more so than some more experienced free-agent receivers. The Jets also have plenty of cap space to attack the negotiation tables; expect to see Smith-Schuster dancing in Gang Green in 2021!
Allen Robinson – Indianapolis Colts
Allen Robinson arrived in Chicago in 2018, and while he’s consistently feasted in the box score over the past three years, the man is still hungry for more. By more, we mean a Championship, of course. Allen Robinson has not been happy in Chicago, and it has shown for some time. As a Chicago fan, I want to see him back, but I think it’s too little too late.
Robinson’s production has been spectacular, especially if you consider who was throwing him the ball. Robinson had 102 catches last season and 98 the season prior, so it was never an issue of him not having the ball in his hands; it’s more so the lack of consistency from the quarterback position and the offense as a whole. Robinson’s perfect team would include an established quarterback, depth at receiver, and plenty of cap space with playoff upside; I believe the Colts will check all these boxes.
While the Colts don’t have an established Quarterback at the moment, they have enough cap space to sign a receiver like Allen Robinson and chase the likes of Deshaun Watson or any other QB they so choose. We’ve seen rumblings of Carson Wentz moving to Indy this week but still nothing. I think the Colts can do better than Wentz, and not having him on the roster increases the odds to land Robinson. Robinson could arrive in Indy without a new QB signed, especially if the Colts moved on Watson at the draft.
The Colts have everything else that Robinson would need. They have a great offensive line, a renewed run game, and have complimentary young receivers in Paris Campbell and Michael Pittman. Robinson would continue to shine as the number one receiver in Indianapolis. He’ll make his payday and play in a division that’s essentially a two-headed race between the Colts and Titans.
A.J. Green – Kansas City Chiefs
The best way I can sum up A.J. Greens’ 2020 return, unmotivated football. He focused on himself and making sure he stayed healthy to make it out of Cincinnati; it’s hard to hate that, but it was tough to watch. We could see Green even mouthing “Just Trade Me” to one of his coaches on the sideline this season. His time in Cincy is over.
It’s hard to tell if Green still has elite production in him. He certainly didn’t flash any big numbers this year, and that’s unfortunate because when Joe Burrow was healthy, there was more than plenty of passing attempts to go around. Green will need to find a new home with elite quarterback play to get the best of what’s remaining in his game. He’ll also be chasing a title; any contender could land him for cheap.
I see teams like the Chiefs, Bills, Browns, Buccaneers, and Saints targetting A.J. Green for a deal with a discount to put him in a position to win a Super Bowl. The Cheifs stick out the most to me. The Chiefs need a reliable big man who can make plays outside the numbers to create more space in the middle of the field for Hill and Kelce. The Chiefs could land Green with another one year deal, and it would be mutually beneficial for both parties. Chiefs fill a need for cheap; Green gets a redemption shot and a run at the Super Bowl.