The NFL league year starts on Wednesday with legal tampering kicking off Monday afternoon. Free agency is not the way many quality teams build their roster instead, generally, teams use it to pick up a player or two to supplement what they already have.
It is rare in the NFL that a good player hits the market without some kind of concern either related to age, play, attitude or, at best, fit with his new team. If a player is that good but available, another team will trade for them and extend their contract.
WR Robert Woods became a free agent when the Tennessee Titans released him from his contract earlier this week. Friday, the Houston Texans swooped in to sign him:
Sources: Former #Titans and #Rams WR Robert Woods is signing with the #Texans, adding a veteran presence to a young team. He gets a 2-year, $15.25M deal with $10M fully guarantee and a max value of $17M.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 11, 2023
A new QB’s best friend. pic.twitter.com/f58MZQKzA0
As Cleveland Browns fans ponder the team diving into the free agent market for another wide receiver to go with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, Woods’ contract might help them understand why that is unlikely.
Woods has had less than 600 yards receiving in each of the last two seasons, will be 31 this year and has never had more than six touchdowns in his 10 years in the NFL. Despite those concerning pieces of information, Woods got a similar amount of guaranteed money on his contract as Tyler Boyd, Marvin Jones and Calvin Ridley did.
While every contract needs to be taken into perspective (Houston Texans looking for a leader and paying for one that was available), the receiver market is not considered strong this offseason but the need continues to grow. Pro Football Focus has just six receivers among the top 100 free agents in this class. Only two, including Odell Beckham Jr., are within the top 50.
With a draft class that also seems to lack enough top-flight options at the position, teams might be forced to overpay. Due to the limited free agents, PFF’s projections for receivers are much higher than other positions ranked higher on their free agent list.
Unfortunately for Browns fans wishing for another receiving threat, GM Andrew Berry might need to scrap the market for a player hoping to bounce back but still have to pay him more than many would expect. If Woods is worth $10 million guaranteed over two years, a player like Mecole Hardman might be looking at similar money for just one season.
A tough year to be shopping for a receiver. It might lead Berry to extend DPJ quickly and make fans very thankful for the addition of Cooper last year.