By Joe Scibelli, Esq.
As the 2021 off-season continues with more surprising moves, such as J.J. Watt to the Cardinals, and even more surprising cuts, i.e. Kyle Van Noy no longer a Dolphin, 2021 is continuing to be unpredictable. This off-season there is A LOT of talent available at the wide receiver position and with all the wild moves GMs are making in the NFL, who knows if the list will grow with unexpected cuts or trades. As of March 3, the first wide receiver free agent tentatively signed was Tyrell Williams, signing a one-year deal for approximately 6 million dollars. Williams is moving from Vegas to join recently added Jared Goff in 8 – Mile, Detroit.
However, there are still a vast number of free agents that are looking to be either re-signed or be added by a new team. Here are some notable names if you haven’t been keeping up: Nelson Agholor, Antonio Brown, Keelan Cole, Corey Davis, Larry Fitzgerald, Will Fuller, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, A.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton, DeSean Jackson, Marvin Jones, Jr., Allen Robinson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Sammy Watkins. There are plenty more on the market, however, these players are some of the more top tier free agents. With a supply there must be a demand. Teams like New England, Miami, Baltimore, Indy, Houston, the Giants, and Philly are going to try and poach some players I mentioned. But teams like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Detroit, and Chicago are in the position of losing their top receiver and are in hopes of re-signing them. Here are some hot takes on this 2021 Wide Receiver Market.
Both Chris Godwin and Sammy Watkins Will Not Be on Their Super Bowl Teams in 2021.
Both Godwin and Watkins got to play in the Super Bowl this February, and Godwin got the last laugh. However, in 2021 neither player will be with their respective conference champion. Sammy Watkins’ issue is that Kansas City is in salary-cap hell. The Chiefs are currently over 19 million above the salary cap or have -19 million dollars in cap space, both mean the same thing, and both are bad. Sammy is going to need a long-term deal if he wants to remain a Chief, however, with KC’s limited signing ability, Watkins is going to need to find a new home. I can see teams like Miami, the LA Chargers, or even the New England Patriots offering Watkins a 2 to 4-year deal as either a first target receiver or strong 2nd. Nevertheless, Watkins will not be catching balls thrown by Patrick Mahomes in 2021.
Chris Godwin, however, is going to have the bag thrown at him. Godwin knows his worth, but also knows what kind of team he’s with. He’s been on the record stating he’s “looking to get paid,” but added he doesn’t want to be somewhere he’s miserable. The biggest issue for Tampa to re-sign Godwin is that they have 30 other free agents that also need new deals. Tampa is going to have a lot of hard decisions ahead, and one being letting Godwin go. Teams like Baltimore, Indy, and Miami could be willing to sign Godwin to a deal he can’t refuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Godwin’s agent has received a call every day from each of these teams’ GMs. Godwin will be looking for a second ring on an AFC team in 2021.
The New England Patriots Do Not Sign a High Market Wide Receiver this 2021 Off-Season.
Honestly as a Patriots fan, this isn’t a hot take, but in the scheme of what the Patriots need to compete with the rising teams in the AFC East, this is a hot take. New England last year was the worst passing offense in the NFL. N’Keal Harry has been disappointing, Julian Edelman has been hurt, and all the other options have shown little to no promise. Nevertheless, the Emperor, Bill Belichick does things his own way and avoids the big names for either undrafted or overlooked players. Since Randy Moss, the Patriots haven’t made a major wide receiver signing. (I don’t count the AB signing because that lasted a game) With options like Godwin, Robinson, Fuller, and Golladay available, Belichick will still sign a Curtis Samuel or Josh Reynolds receiver. Middle-tier and overlooked, the Belichick special. It still pisses me off though. It feels like every off-season the Patriots are going to make a move or sign a big name, but no, they take undrafted rookie quarterbacks and turn them into wide receivers. So, because this happens EVERY off-season, it’s not really a hot take rather the opposite. However, since the Patriots desperately need an elite wide receiver, it is.
Detroit Keeps MJJ and Lets Golladay Go.
Detroit already made the first move in the wide receiver market by signing Tyrell Williams. However, Detroit’s best wide receivers are both free agents and both are arguably some of the best wide receiver free agents available. With both Marvin Jones, Jr. and Kenny Golladay becoming free agents, Detroit must figure out what to do with them both. Golladay last season was the expected No. 1 target for Detroit but injuries kept interfering. Jones, Jr., on the other hand, was not the expected No. 1, but took the role and played all throughout the season. Both these receivers can be No. 1 receivers on most teams, but injuries seem to plague Golladay. Detroit is a team that needs to stay healthy in 2021 and can’t afford the slightest disturbance in their line-up. With a new quarterback, a new coach, new front office and a lot of young players, Detroit will want a team that is consistent and healthy moving forward. Marvin is that lead veteran workhorse that has proven he can be Detroit’s go to option. For Golladay, either the Dolphins, Colts, Ravens, Giants, Eagles, or 49ers seems to be the better fit.
Allen Robinson Remains on the Bears.
Robinson is expected to be the highest paid wide receiver free agent in 2021. He is probably the best wide receiver free agent as well. The Bears have been always in the talks with big trades or signing but none have come into reality (Watson, Watt, Wentz, and Wilson). Signing Robinson this off-season will be the Bears first win. The Bears need to build their offense and entice players to Chicago. We all know the Bears are stacked on defense, but on offense, not counting Robinson, their best player is David Montgomery. The Bears need to do everything in their power to not let Robinson go. If he’s gone, Chicago fans can say goodbye to any chance of any quarterbacks wanting to be traded or signed there and making the playoffs. If I’m wrong however, I would love seeing Robinson in either Indy or Baltimore. Both teams desperately need a star wideout, and with Robinson both teams have a legitimate shot at making a deep playoff run in 2021. If you disagree, please look at the Stephon Diggs signing in 2020. Diggs went to Buffalo and Josh Allen became a Pro Bowler / MVP candidate. An elite wide receiver can change a quarterback’s career.
Best Wide Receiver Signing in 2021 will be Kenny Golladay. *
This take requires an asterisk. If Golladay stays healthy, which is a big “if,” he will be the best free agent signing in 2021. When Golladay is healthy he’s a 1000-yard receiver. Specifically, in 2019, Golladay was averaging 18.3 yards per catch, had 65 receptions, 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns. Obviously last year was a down season due to injuries. However, if he signs with the right team and stays healthy, I can see Golladay putting up numbers better than his 2019 campaign. He would easily become the top option for the Colts, Dolphins, Ravens, or 49ers, all teams that will fit well with Golladay’s play style. He has the ability to stretch the field, make tight cuts, and finds the holes in defenses. The 6’4, 215 pound, 27-year-old can either play the traditional deep guy or in the slot. He’s one of the most explosive wide receivers in the league, and if healthy can be the best free agent wide receiver signing in 2021 like how Diggs was in 2020.