For the first time in a long time, the Cleveland Browns have the best player in the NFL at his skill position on offense. And Josh Gordon made it look easy. Despite a litany of problems at quarterback, zero threat from his team's running attack, and a two-game suspension, he managed to lead the league receiving yards in what was an awe-inspiring, multiple record-breaking performance last season.
Assuming he can avoid any future suspensions, the problem for the Browns at WR is merely everyone after Gordon. The only relief comes from the tight end position thanks to the emergence of Jordan Cameron. But there remains a severe lack of depth behind the obvious No. 1 and 2 targets.
Greg Little has shown an inability to break out and his production has been declining over the course of his short three-year career.
Last year's free agent additions garnered fairly poor results. David Nelson was cut by the Browns before the start of the season likely due to concerns about lingering knee injuries. Nelson played his first game for the Jets in Week 5 and went on to average 10 more yards per game than Davone Bess.
Bess was expected to contribute as an effective possession receiver, but other than one bounce-back game as the hero in Week 3 against the Vikings, he finished with career lows, including one of the worst drop rates in the NFL. He followed the season with what can only be called a complete meltdown off the field.
Outside of the obvious need for improved quarterback play, the Browns can shore up the efficiency of the passing game with receivers behind Gordon and Cameron that can catch the ball.
- Eric Decker (26) DEN – Decker owes a significant portion of his success over the past two seasons to the arrival of Peyton Manning. Decker could see a big pay day because of it. Of course, we've seen Manning get very high-level production out of a lot of different receivers before. Decker is the sort that can remain effective on another team, even if his total yardage decreases somewhat.
- Hakeem Nicks (26) NYG – Following back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons, Nicks declined in part due to being banged up as well as the rise of Victor Cruz. He has the proven ability and physicality, but it may come at a high cost.
- Golden Tate (25) SEA – While Tate's production has never surpassed 900 total receiving yards in a season, he's been an incredibly efficient pass catcher in a Seahawks offense that prioritizes the run game. He's willing to take less to stay in Seattle, so the defending champs will likely make an effort to bring him back.
- Julian Edelman (27) NE – This former Kent State quarterback reached his pinnacle in a New England offense that was dealing with the loss of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and much of Rob Gronkowski. Whether he can sustain that success remains to be seen. The Patriots may need him back.
- Jeremy Maclin (25) PHI – Up until tearing his ACL during training camp in July of last year, Maclin had been a consistent No. 2 receiver behind DeSean Jackson. He's have plenty of time to recover and will continue to, but it's unknown whether he'll be the same player. UPDATE: Maclin has agreed to a one-year extension with the Eagles.
- Kenny Britt (25) TEN – Britt has a history of issues off the field, but has shown an ability to play at high-level in spurts. He's struggled to bounce back since tearing his ACL and MCL in 2011.
- James Jones (29) GB – Jones has been a consistent No. 2 receiver for the Packers and is coming off a career-high 800+ yard season.
- Anquan Boldin (33) SF – Boldin's production over the course of his long career has been fantastic. It's no surprise that the 49ers still covet this 33-year-old.
Honorable mentions: Darrius Heyward-Bey (27) OAK | Dexter McCluster (25) KC | Sidney Rice (27) SEA | Andre Roberts (26) ARI | Emmanuel Sanders (26) PIT | Brandon LaFell (27) CAR | Danario Alexander (25) SD