Updated: March 7th, 2014 @ 9:00 AM
1. Eric Decker (DEN) – Decker is coming off a huge season for the AFC Champ Broncos and is looking at a lucrative multi-year deal. However, he won’t get No. 1 WR money because he’s a much better secondary option than a stud wideout. He’s a big body who can create space and haul in big catches, but the best fit for him is still in Denver. He might sign with the rival Colts – who like the Ravens and Patriots are in need of experienced receivers, but teams will likely remember that he was shut down Seattle’s defense in the Super Bowl.
The Best Fit: Broncos, Colts, Ravens, Patriots
UPDATE: He’s still looking at a deal just under that of a bona fide WR1 and with the confirmation from GM John Elway that he’ll likely hit the open market, there’s been increasing interest from the Colts.
2. Jeremy Maclin (PHI) – The Eagles would love to bring back both Maclin and Riley Cooper, though it will be difficult to pull that off. The Chiefs’ while a bit cash-strapped themselves, are likely to be able to afford one of the guys hitting the open market and Maclin makes the most sense as he flourished in Andy Reid’s offense in the past and won’t cost a ridiculous amount of money. Maclin is coming off a July 2013 ACL injury and there’s still a chance he stays in Philly — he said as much a couple weeks ago to the Philadelphia Inquirer — but Kansas City seems like the best fit.
The Best Fit: Chiefs, Eagles, Packers
UPDATE: SIGNED. The Eagles and Maclin agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract with a max value of $6 million, keeping the talented young receiver with one of the most potent offenses in football. Other teams may have been wary about signing Maclin to a big deal after last season’s major injury, so this is a good fit.
3. Anquan Boldin (SF) – I expected Boldin to sign another one-year deal with a contender – but based on ongoing talks between him and the 49ers, it appears they’ll figure out an extension similar to the three-year deal Reggie Wayne signed with the Colts in 2012 ($17.5 million). Boldin is 33 and surely wants another ring, and the 49ers still have a team capable of pulling it off. He probably won’t be the standout fantasy factor he was in the past, but he’s still a capable of big games and hot streaks.
The Best Fit: 49ers, Ravens, Colts
UPDATE: SIGNED. Boldin got a two-year deal with the 49ers reportedly worth $12 million – about what we expected. Now, the Niners have to deal with Colin Kaepernick.
4. Hakeem Nicks (NYG) – Nicks recently signed with Jay Z’s sports agency firm, so he’ll probably go get paid and find his way out of New York. There’s still some question as to why Nicks couldn’t get it done last season (56-896-0 was a truly disappointing fantasy line), though it’s possible it had to do with coaching. With the Giants’ receiving corps featuring so many young and talented options, Nicks feels like the odd man out. The Patriots have a history of rejuvenating disgruntled players so New England could definitely be a landing spot. but there will be competition for such an accomplished receiver (155-2,244-18 TDs in 2010-11).
The Best Fit: Patriots, Colts, Chiefs
UPDATE: The Ravens have popped up on the rumor mill for Nicks as they have a ton of cap space and need another wideout. He could sign a one-year deal similar to Maclin’s, if only because there are questions about his long-term durability/effectiveness.
5. Golden Tate (SEA) – While Tate has said he’d like to stay with Seattle, the receiving corps is too crowded for the Seahawks to make signing him a priority. And WR/PR guys who combine playmaking ability with consistency – like Tate – make GMs salivate. If the Colts miss out on Decker, they’ll make a play for Tate, although the Chiefs and Jets (who desperately need offensive playmakers) will be knocking on his door.
The Best Fit: Colts, Chiefs, Jets
UPDATE: With Sidney Rice now gone, the Seahawks need to keep Tate, and they’ve announced as much in anticipation of a possible offer prior to the March 11 date. He could still hit the open market, but the fit in Seattle is good.
6. James Jones (GB) – Jones is the wild card of the free agent market and it’s likely his days in Green Bay are over. He’s not really needed there and although Aaron Rodgers has lobbied for him to stay, agent Frank Bauer doesn’t think GM Ted Thompson really wants him back. This has nothing to do with Jones’ play – which has been solid if not superb for the Packers over the past few seasons. His TD production plummeted to just 3 in 2013 (he had 14 TDs in 2012) and it’s likely that he’ll command a big deal if he skips town – maybe a tick below what Nicks would make since he’s a few years older but has considerably less wear and baggage. It’s anybody’s guess where he lands, though it’s clear he’ll be used as a red zone target and as a No. 2/3 WR.
The Best Fit: Panthers, Dolphins, Colts
UPDATE: The New York Giants are reportedly in the mix for Jones, who could make a viable red zone target and worthy replacement for Nicks, who is all but gone. The Giants can’t afford to make a huge splash, so signing Jones to a one-year deal is a distinct possibility.
7. Riley Cooper (PHI) – Cooper broke out in a big way in 2013 (47-835-8 on 83 targets), and while he might be able to land a big contract by leaving Philly, I think he fits in great with Nick Foles and the current Eagles offense. The Eagles don’t ask much of Cooper and that’s a good thing, because he’s not that physically gifted a receiver. If he does leave town, I’m almost positive it’ll be to sign an abnormally large contract with the Jets – because that’s something they would do. If teams don’t overspend, he could end up a pawn on Bill Belichick’s chess board.
The Best Fit: Eagles, Jets, Patriots
UPDATE: SIGNED. Cooper inked a five-year, $25 million deal that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering the Eagles had leverage in this situation. But, Cooper will get a fat paycheck and resume No. 3 WR duties with Maclin healthy and back to business.
8. Julian Edelman (NE) – Speaking of Belichick, he’s a shrewd guy, which means he’s not going to show his hand and fawn all over Edelman who bailed Tom Brady and the Patriots out on multiple occasions last season. But, Edelman has yet to hear from his team in regard to a new contract. The best fit for Edelman, who had 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six TDs (151 targets!!) last season, is clearly New England. But if things so sour in negotiations he could make sense in any of the aforementioned cities.
The Best Fit: Patriots, Jets, Colts
UPDATE: The Texans have emerged as a candidate to land Edelman, who just started discussions with the Pats. It’s entirely possible the New England will add Emmanuel Sanders or another upside-laden receiver into the fray as a No. 1 – and make do with Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and company out of the No. 2 and slot.
9. Emmanuel Sanders (PIT) – I apologize if I can’t stop talking about the Patriots, but they really wanted Sanders last offseason and even signed him to an offer sheet before the Steelers matched it. Sanders has amassed 161 catches for 2,030 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons with Pittsburgh and he’s full of promise without much downside. He’s fast with good hands and will likely court offers from the Pats, Colts and Chiefs.
The Best Fit: Patriots, Colts, Chiefs
UPDATE: Sanders is probably staying somewhere in the AFC, as both the Patriots and Jets have expressed an interest in adding him. Heading to New England would probably be best for his fantasy value.
10. Andre Roberts (ARI) – Roberts and the Cards haven’t engaged in contract talks yet which means he might be taking off for greener pastures – especially since GM Steve Keim has made a point of saying the Cards have offers on the table for a few other players. The truth is that Roberts doesn’t really add another dimension to the Cards’ offense, but he could be a valuable additional to a few other teams. If Sanders leaves Pittsburgh, the Steelers might want to add Roberts to complement Antonio Brown. The Panthers and Cowboys might also be looking for a steady veteran like Roberts to play a minor role.
The Best Fit: Steelers, Panthers, Cowboys
UPDATE: There’s no news from Arizona regarding resigning Roberts, so I’m betting he skips town in search of a sweeter deal and a better QB.