Earlier this week, we discussed the Cowboys’ tenuous situation at the third WR position. Whether or not the Cowboys already have their 3 on their roster, I think we were almost all in agreement that the Cowboys could use some additional depth at WR. Yes? OK, good.
There are rumblings that Donald Driver could be the “odd man out” in Green Bay, due to the $4.5 million in salary that he is due this year, and the excellent quartet of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb already in place. Naturally, whenever a big name like Driver becomes available, fans will immediately project him into their team’s offense and try to figure out how he might fit in.
This post is not about Donald Driver, but just for the sake of asking, what if Driver became available? Would you jump on him if you were the Cowboys? Personally, Donald Driver is one of my all-time favorite receivers, but no, I would not be in a rush to bring him in, and the reason why is fairly simple: There are going to be plenty more wide receivers out there that are going to be released, and I might just be inclined to sit back patiently and see who shakes out.
This year’s rookie class of WR’s was one of the deepest groups in recent memory. It was so deep in fact that one out of every 7.7 selections was a wide receiver. 33 of them were drafted this year, and 21 went in the first 4 rounds. Typically, if you get drafted in the 4th round or higher, no matter what position you play, you’re going to make the team.
So if almost all the rookies are going to make their teams, what does that have to do with the Cowboys? Well, when you cram so much new blood onto NFL rosters, some of the older blood has to make way. And so, I thought it might make sense to take a look at some teams out there who are flush with WR talent that might be worth keeping an eye on. For the following list, I did not take a look at all of the players’ salaries. I’m simply noting some teams flush with WR depth that are likely to cut a player that could be of interest. Oddly, most of them are teams that wouldn’t strike you as “WR rich”:
- Rams: Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola, Brian Quick, Steve Smith, Chris Givens, Danario Alexander, Austin Pettis, Greg Salas: Gibson and Amendola are the starters, while Quick, Givens, Pettis, and Salas were all drafted in the last two years. I’d have to think they’re all likely to stick. That leaves Steve Smith, who may no longer have a guaranteed roster spot, and Danario Alexander, a guy that should be on the radar of all 32 NFL teams. Alexander turns 24 in August, has excellent size at 6’5, 217, and runs a 4.5 40. I remember watching the Rams play the Giants Week 2 last season, and the Giants couldn’t stop him. Potential/upside galore. The Rams are going to have difficulty filling out a roster of 53 competent pro football players, so it’s very possible they keep all 8 of these guys, but if I’m Dallas, I might think about dangling a mid-round pick for Alexander.
- Patriots: Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Anthony Gonzalez, Julien Edelman, Matthew Slater, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, Chad Ochocinco: The Pats are loaded with players at WR that are on the downside of their careers, but could serve as solid depth for a year or so.
- Bears: Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester, Alshon Jeffrey, Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox, Devin Thomas, Eric Weems, Dane Sanzenbacher: With the Bears adding Marshall, Thomas and Weems this offseason, it really wouldn’t shock me to see Knox be the odd man out here. He has one year left on his rookie contract, and the Bears are suddenly loaded with receiver depth. Knox had his 2011 season ended on a play in which his back was basically bent in half. It almost paralyzed him. The initial prognosis was 3-4 months of recovery time, but it’s possible that he may not play at all in 2012. His situation could be worth keeping an eye on if he recovers quickly. Dane Sanzenbacher (27-276-3 in his rookie season) could also be a player worth looking into.
- Redskins: Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Anthony Armstrong, Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin: If I were the Cowboys, I’d have my eye on Anthony Armstrong. In 2011 he fell off a cliff after catching 44 passes for 871 yards and 3 TDs in 2010. He doesn’t have ideal size (5’11) an he’s extraordinarily old for a 3rd year player (he’s 29), but he can stretch the field and make plays.
- Vikings: Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Jairus Wright, Greg Childs: Wright and Childs were both mid-round picks, so they’re not going anywhere. Jenkins is set to make $2.5 million this season. The Vikings could decide they don’t want to pay him that.
- 49ers: Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, AJ Jenkins, Ted Ginn, Kyle Williams: The Niners go 6 receivers deep, with Williams being the most likely not to stick. Williams, as we know from Gregg Williams’ bounty speech, has a history of concussions, but has good speed and can return punts (as long as they’re not against the Giants).
- Seahawks: Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Doug Baldwin, Ben Obamanu, Golden Tate, Deon Butler: Butler had a gruesomebroken leg last season, but is expected to make a full recovery. If the Seahawks only keep 5 receivers, he could be a guy that has a breakout season with a better offense around him.