Steve Johnson is among the top free agent wide receivers.
With the NFL Free Agency drawing closer every day, DBN is going to discuss free agent targets for the Cleveland Browns at each major position. We've already taken a look at potential free agent QBs and RBs. Today we continue our free agency talk with the wide receivers.
Personally, I think this has the potential to be the most exciting position of free agency as well. Not only is the pool of FA WRs very deep, but it's also one of the Browns' biggest weaknesses. It has been for too long now. The Browns also have a lot have cap space to work with. It's going to come down to whether or not the Browns' front office is willing to use that available money and if any of the WRs will want to come to Cleveland. This deep FA pool ranges from plenty of high profile names to solid role players and everywhere in between. Check it out after the jump.
- Steve Johnson (BUF - 25) – I think Steve Johnson is the best combination of ability, age and character among the unrestricted free agents. His biggest issue last season was celebration penalties, which appeared to be fixed by a swift benching. However, I expect him to stay with the Buffalo Bills.
- Dwayne Bowe (KC - 27) – Dwayne Bowe’s woes early in his career were the dropped passes. That concern is still there, but the productivity hasn’t gone away, outside of a 4-game suspension for using a diuretic in 2009. Despite the drops, I think he brings too much to the table not to consider.
- Vincent Jackson (SD - 29) – Vincent Jackson is in the older group of free agent receivers. He still had a good season in 2011. I didn’t like the contract dispute in 2010, but it’s not the first time a player has had issues with the San Diego Chargers. He’ll be on the market and he’s a big play threat, which the Browns need.
- DeSean Jackson (PHI - 25) – I’m always paranoid about going after prima donna wide receivers. DeSean Jackson has proven himself to be just that. But, he’s also an all-world talent. His speed is remarkable and he brings that as both a receiver and a returner. Recent reports have said that the Philadelphia Eagles will franchise tag Jackson.
- Marques Colston (NO - 28) – In six seasons, five of which were for 1,000+ receiving yards, Marques Colston has been very consistent. He’s more of a possession receiver than a speed guy. But, he catches everything in his time zone, which is an improvement in an area where other Browns receivers have struggled.
- Robert Meachem (NO - 27) – With the emergence of Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles, Robert Meachem’s role wasn’t a major one for the New Orleans Saints. Meachem was sixth in receptions for the team last season. But, he was second in yards per catch and remained a threat. I think he’d add good depth at WR for the Browns.
- Laurent Robinson (DAL - 26) – It’s surprising to me that Laurent Robinson has been with four different teams at only 26 years old. He didn’t have a breakout performance until reaching the Dallas Cowboys. Injuries to Miles Austin pushed Robinson up the depth chart and he played remarkably. If Dallas lets him go, and it looks like they may, I’d be happy to see him on the Browns.
- Wes Welker (NE - 30) – If we’re looking for a veteran wide receiver, Wes Welker is a premiere target. He’s the ideal slot receiver that does amazing things after the catch. Not surprisingly, he led the league in yards after catch last season. He also led the league in receptions by a wide margin. The question is whether the New England Patriots want to commit to him.
- Mario Manningham (NYG - 25) – Mario Manningham caught the most crucial pass in Super Bowl XLVI. However, in four seasons with the New York Giants he hasn’t set himself apart. This past season he only had one more reception than Jake Ballard and less yards. The Plain Dealer’s Cleveland Browns beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot still thinks Manningham is "exactly the type of WR the Cleveland Browns need."
- Pierre Garçon (IND - 25) – Only two Indianapolis Colts receivers put up solid numbers without Peyton Manning. Both of them are unrestricted free agents. Pierre Garçon is the younger of the two. In his four seasons in the NFL, he has improved but isn't a major standout. That could make him more obtainable for the Browns than the higher profile free agents.
- Brandon Lloyd (STL - 30) – Since exploding for over 1,400 yards in 2010, Brandon Lloyd has crashed back to Earth. He still led the St. Louis Rams in receiving last season. He may be an affordable veteran for the Browns.
- Jerricho Cotchery (PIT - 29) – I think Jerricho Cotchery could add depth and veteran experience but wouldn’t be a major difference maker for the Browns.
- Early Doucet (ARI - 26) – Early Doucet has slowly risen throughout his four years with the Arizona Cardinals. He’s played behind the likes of Larry Fitzgerald for his entire career, as well as Anquan Bolden for half. There may be potential there.
- Eddie Royal (DEN - 25) – Eddie Royal has fallen pretty significantly since his rookie season. He would add speed to the WR core if he landed in Cleveland, but I’m not sure he’d add much else.
- Ted Ginn (SF - 26) – If you’re thinking, "We already have a return man!" I understand where you’re coming from. But with that said, if he’s affordable, I wouldn’t mind a returner that can still put it in the endzone.
- Reggie Wayne (IND - 33) – Even without Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne was only 40 yards away from an eighth consecutive 1,000+ yard season. I’m not sure he’s worth outbidding other potential suitors, but he’s at least worth a consideration.
- Mike Wallace (PIT - 25) Restricted – I can’t imagine any scenario where the Pittsburgh Steelers let Mike Wallace walk outside of some serious cap issues. Even then, the Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has said that Wallace is a priority. At only 25, Wallace has been incredible for the Steelers.
Remember, if you think there is a potential FA WR that the Browns should target that might have been overlooked or is even just worth mentioning, feel free to discuss that here. Think of this as a free agency open thread dealing with wide receivers.