With free agency around the corner and the 2023 NFL Draft coming up in April, Kevin Patra assesses the wide receiver situations of all 32 teams in the NFL. Teams are sorted into categories signifying the level of stability at the position, then listed in alphabetical order along with the top wideouts under contract for 2023 as well as key players who are not under contract for next season. Those WRs are denoted as unrestricted free agents (UFA), restricted free agents (RFA) or exclusive rights free agents (ERFA); (void) indicates remaining years on a contract will be voided, enabling the player to become a free agent.
Need immediate help
Top WRs under contract for 2023: Drake London
London is the only Falcons receiver under contract who had more than a single catch last season. Even accounting for tight end Kyle Pitts, who operates more like a wideout, Atlanta desperately needs to add playmakers this offseason. Fortunately for the Falcons, they have a ton of available cap space. Zaccheaus offers under-the-radar explosiveness, but he could get plucked away by another team looking to add speed in a deficient receiver market. Even if Zaccheaus stays (but especially if he doesn’t), the Falcons should also prioritize big-play ability in the draft.
Bateman's season-ending foot injury in Week 8 derailed the Ravens' passing attack, which was already thin after Baltimore traded Marquise Brown during the 2022 draft and neglected to select a replacement. The patchwork plan didn't work out even when Lamar Jackson was healthy. Bateman owns the talent to be a WR1 if healthy, but he's missed 16 games in his first two seasons, so the jury remains out. Baltimore hopes new coordinator Todd Monken will jumpstart its passing offense. To do so, the Ravens need horses. Outside of dealing with Jackson's contract situation, remaking the receiver room should be a top prerogative in Baltimore. Adding a vertical threat like free-agent DJ Chark would be a solid start to the overhaul.
November's expensive Claypool trade looks like a miss so far, but the Bears shouldn't cease taking swings at wideouts to help Justin Fields. Although Mooney has shown he can be a stud, Chicago must find reliable second and third options. Perhaps having an offseason in Chicago will unlock Claypool, but the Bears can't count on it. With the most projected cap space in the NFL and picks to spare, especially if they end up trading out of No. 1 overall, the Bears need to aggressively spend and seek out trades to upgrade the unit. Wasting Fields' relatively low-cost rookie contract by failing to add multiple offensive weapons would be malpractice.
The Amari Cooper trade looks even worse for Dallas in hindsight than it did last spring, when the Cowboys sent the four-time Pro Bowler to the Browns for a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Similarly, counting on Gallup to bounce back from an ACL tear suffered late in the 2021 season worked out predictably poorly. Those factors left Lamb to operate without a reliable running mate all season. Dallas needs to add more weapons for Dak Prescott to help open up the offense. Gallup being further away from the injury should help improve his production, but it can't be the only thing the Cowboys rely on this time around. Will they reignite the Odell Beckham conversations that fizzled last year?
Send help! The Pats' pass-catching corps struggled to generate explosive plays in a flavorless offense in 2022. Meyers, who led the group with 804 receiving yards, should be a priority signing for New England. But will Bill Belichick pay big money to keep a possession receiver without a 1,000-yard season to his name? With such a weak wideout market, another team very well might. Even if the Patriots do bring him back, the rest of the WR room will need an overhaul if Mac Jones is going to develop further. The two-year Agholor experiment went about as expected (34 catches and 417.5 receiving yards per year). Bourne was in the doghouse most of the season and ended up fifth in snaps among Patriots wideouts. Parker was boom-or-bust when healthy. And Thornton, who missed the first four games with a broken collarbone, showed upside but inconsistencies as a rookie. Adding a go-to target should be an urgent offseason goal for New England.
Year 2 of general manager Joe Schoen's rebuild must provide playmakers for coach Brian Daboll and Daniel Jones (presuming the quarterback is retained) if the offense is to take the next step. Re-signing Hodgins, who was an exclusive rights free agent, was a perfunctory move. Next comes jettisoning Golladay, a vestige of the previous regime. Bringing back Slayton feels necessary, considering the dearth of field-stretching weapons on the market. He was the Giants' only deep threat last season.
Burks flashed big-play ability as a rookie but played in just 11 games, catching 33 passes for 444 yards. Still, he has the talent to be a go-to target in Tennessee if he stays healthy. It's the rest of the group that has significant questions. The Woods trade last March didn't worked out as planned. Woods collected just 53 catches for 527 yards and two scores, and the team confirmed Wednesday that Woods will be released. Westbrook-Ikhine is a restricted free agent who should be relatively inexpensive to retain, but the Titans need more weapons to jumpstart their passing offense, which was far too rudimentary in 2022. It makes sense for Tennessee to draft a speedy wideout to pair with the big-bodied Burks.
Add a piece or two or three
Hopkins' future is the big question in Arizona. The wideout, who turns 31 in June, led the Cards with 717 yards despite playing in just nine games (suspension/injury). With the organization in rebuild mode, Hopkins could fetch a solid return in a trade. Hollywood Brown, meanwhile, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. It will be interesting to see what Arizona's new brass thinks of the 2019 first-rounder. Do they ink him to an extension this year, or use 2023 as a trial run to see how he meshes with the new staff? Dortch should return as an exclusive rights free agent to add depth to the position.
Diggs remains one of the game's elite receivers, having just notched his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season. But the three-time Pro Bowler needs help. Davis didn't have the potential breakout season many expected, and he was unable to be a consistent threat opposite Diggs. While Davis still reached career highs in catches (48) and yards (836), he produced just six games of 50-plus receiving yards in 15 regular-season outings. Buffalo also couldn't find consistent play from the slot: McKenzie was up-and-down, while Crowder was injured or ineffective. The team signed Beasley out of retirement in December, hoping he could rediscover his previous rapport with Josh Allen. After another frustrating postseason exit, which drew Diggs' ire, Brandon Beane and Co. must find their WR1 a legitimate running mate this offseason.
Moore's three-year run of 1,000-yard seasons ended in 2022, but given the struggles of the offense overall, he's hardly to blame for the snapped streak. The wideout remains a force who should work well in new coach Frank Reich's system (à la Colts WR Michael Pittman during Reich's time in Indy). Beyond Moore, Carolina has talent at the position, but also major question marks. Marshall, who turns 23 in June, has ability but was buried repeatedly by the previous regime. Will the new staff make better use of the 2021 second-round pick? Can Shenault be more than a WR-screen maven? Although QB and tight end are bigger issues on offense, don't be surprised if the Panthers look for cost-efficient options to add depth to their receiver room -- particularly wideouts with knowledge of Reich's scheme.
Key free agents: N/A
The low-cost Cooper trade from nearly a year ago worked well for Cleveland, as he paced the Browns with 1,160 yards and 9 TDs in 2022. And while Peoples-Jones put up career highs in catches (61) and yards (839) playing off Cooper's strengths, DPJ is better suited as a No. 3. Thus, finding a big-play pas-catcher who can line up opposite Cooper and open up the offense for Deshaun Watson should be in the cards for Cleveland. One enticing option might be Watson's former Texans teammate, Brandin Cooks, who was on the trade block last season and has no interest in being "part of a rebuild."
Watson blasted off down the stretch, catching 31 passes for 523 yards and seven TDs over his final eight games. The rookie displayed blazing speed and separated from defensive backs with ease. He still needs refinement, but the traits are there for him to be the Packers' next dynamic wideout. Doubs had an up-and-down season but has the characteristics to be a solid possession receiver. From there, it's a crapshoot. Lazard led Green Bay in receiving, but he could cost more on the open market than Green Bay is willing to shell out. And if Aaron Rodgers moves on, Cobb certainly won't be back. So while the uncertainty hovering over the QB room is -- yet again -- the biggest Packers storyline this offseason, how the team fills out its WR corps is something to also keep an eye on.
Like with most of the positions on the Texans' roster, there are a lot of unknowns at receiver. Will Cooks stand firm on his desire not to be part of another rebuilding year? Given the dearth of free-agent options, WR-needy teams should be checking with Houston on the veteran's availability. But if the plan is to break in a rookie quarterback, would the Texans want to jettison their best big-play threat? Collins is a solid target but hasn't stayed healthy, and Metchie is a wild card after missing his entire rookie season due to leukemia. Houston has more prominent needs, but adding more young talent to the WR room is on the wish list.
Just like last offseason, the Colts must bolster a WR corps that will be tasked with buoying a new face under center. Pittman remains an excellent WR1, with the ability to get open even against sticky coverage. Pierce had a roller coaster of a rookie campaign, flashing playmaking potential but producing zero 100-yard games. Campbell finally stayed healthy and had his best season (63 catches, 623 yards), though he profiles as a prove-it-year-type free agent. Quarterback and offensive line are the top two offseason priorities for Indy's offense. Adding another playmaker to the WR room should be No. 3 on the list.
New receiver corps. Another Lombardi Trophy for Kansas City. Such is life with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. The Chiefs' 2022 plan to replace Tyreek Hill with a host of options who can win at different levels worked out in the end. Mahomes still led the NFL in passing yards (5,250) and took home his second league MVP. Yet, with JuJu, Hardman and Watson heading to free agency, there will be questions about how K.C. reconfigures its WR room again. Toney remains a wild card, given his injury history. And hopefully, the MVS-Mahomes rapport can improve in Year 2. Bringing back Smith-Schuster and/or Hardman on team-friendly deals makes sense if neither guy finds a better offer on the open market. If both walk, the Chiefs undoubtedly will find veterans interested in playing with Mahomes for a chance at a ring.
The focus will be on the post-Derek Carr QB situation in Vegas, but the Raiders are also thin at receiver heading into the offseason. Adams remains one of the best players in the NFL, with the ability to strike from anywhere at any time, and his route running is the crème-de-la-crème. Renfrow struggled with injury in Josh McDaniels' first season as head coach, catching just 36 passes for 330 yards in 10 games. Could his production dry up without Carr force-feeding him on third downs? Hollins generated the best season of his journeyman career (57 catches, 690 receiving yards, four receiving TDs) and got a host of shots in McDaniels' offense. Given the 29-year-old's trajectory (56 total catches in four seasons prior to 2022), it shouldn't be that costly to bring him back in 2023.
The question hovering over L.A. early this offseason is whether the Chargers would consider cutting the 30-year-old Allen, given his injury history (he missed six games in 2022) and contract (the team could save $14.8 million against the cap this year and $23.1 million next). It would leave Justin Herbert's wide receiver room woefully thin. We know Allen can produce when healthy and provides Herbert a go-to target on critical downs. When Allen and Williams were both at full speed, the Chargers' offense was exponentially more efficient. Either way, expect additions to L.A.'s WR room this offseason, mainly through the draft.
Key free agents: Bisi Johnson (UFA)
Jefferson led the NFL in receiving yards (1,809) and catches (128) in 2022, winning Offensive Player of the Year. There is zero question as to the identity of the alpha in the receiver room. Beyond that, it's up in the air. It seems likely that the 32-year-old Thielen, who averaged 10.5 yards per catch in 2021 and '22, will either be released or take a pay cut. Osborn has come on strong the past two years, averaging 11.9 yards per catch in that span, but can he be a No. 2? With cap issues (Minnesota is projected to be $24.4 million over the cap) and bigger concerns on defense, the Vikings should look to the draft to add a weapon for Kevin O'Connell's offense who can take advantage of the one-on-one matchups facilitated by the attention opponents pay to Jefferson.
Thomas is technically still on the roster, but the reported restructuring of his contract in January points to a parting of ways after three injury-plagued seasons. Olave is a star in the making, capable of shouldering the load sans Thomas. Shaheed flashed speed and playmaking ability that made me wonder what the heck took the staff until Week 12 to get the burner more touches. The duo is a good start. Adding a possession receiver or two would help the cause, even if finding one is not a top priority for the perennially cap-strapped Saints.
Key free agents: Jeff Smith (RFA)
Gang Green found a stud in Wilson, who proved in his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign that he can be a go-to target even with suspect QB play. Moore is a good route-runner who needs to be more involved in the offense moving forward. Beyond those two, things are up in the air. Davis seems likely to be cut, given there is no guaranteed money left on his deal, and he's been inconsistent at best. Berrios could also be released to create cap space. The Jets' focus this offseason will be the quarterback position, but adding skill position help alongside Wilson and Moore would boost whomever is under center.
The Steelers swiped the uber-talented Pickens in the second round of last year's draft, then paid Johnson in August, giving Kenny Pickett a good top two in his rookie season. Despite not scoring a touchdown on 86 catches, Johnson remains a go-to target. Pickens owns vise-grip hands and excellent back-shoulder acumen. Both should benefit from having another year to develop rapport with Pickett. Pittsburgh should add depth, particularly from the slot, to make life easier on the young quarterback.
Seattle sports a dynamic top two in Metcalf and Lockett, who each surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in 2022 with Geno Smith under center. Metcalf provides a big-body target and Lockett brings downfield prowess. They fit together like a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The question is at the No. 3 spot. Eskridge was drafted in the second round in 2021 to fill that role but hasn't found his NFL footing. He logged just seven catches for 58 yards in 2022 while playing in 10 games. Pete Carroll hasn't given up on Eskridge being a weapon if he can stay healthy, but Seattle can't enter the season assuming he'll finally turn the corner. Depth behind Metcalf and Lockett is needed.
Bigger fish to fry
Key free agents: Trent Taylor (UFA)
The Bengals continue to sport the NFL's best WR trio. Chase is a field-tilting force. Higgins is a go-to target who makes massive catches. And Boyd is among the best slots in the league. The biggest question is whether the brass locks up Higgins for the long term. Both Higgins (currently on his rookie contract) and Boyd (who signed an extension in 2019) will be free agents in 2024, and the Bengals must prepare to pay Chase eventually. The annual offseason rumor mill is already pegging Higgins as a potential trade candidate if the Bengals don't plan to pay him big money. Cincy's front office likes to draft a year ahead, so adding a wideout in the mid to late rounds wouldn't be a stunner. But as we sit now, the keeping the triumvirate together for one more deep playoff run makes the most sense in my book.
Key free agents: N/A
On paper, Sean Payton has plenty to work with in his new receiver corps. But we have yet to see this group stay healthy or produce on par with its projections. Jeudy has skills but is inconsistent compared to other young receiving stars. Sutton is a good boundary receiver but hasn't been the same since suffering a torn ACL in 2020. Hamler has played in just 10 games in the past two seasons. Patrick's ACL tear last year really hurt Denver. Can the crew remain on the field? Can Payton finally unlock what's been missing from the Broncos' offense? If they struggle in 2023, this group could be blown up.
Key free agents: DJ Chark (void)
Detroit would surely like to retain Chark, who played a field-stretching role when healthy. But given the shortage of options on the open market, the Lions could get outbid by a needier club. St. Brown is a star. Reynolds fits the mold of a big target who can make plays for Jared Goff. The wild card is Williams, coming off a rookie season that functioned more like a trial run, thanks to his college knee injury. If Williams is everything the Lions hope, he and St. Brown will make a dynamic duo with beautifully complementary skill sets.
Key free agents: Marvin Jones (UFA)
If the NFL reinstates Ridley, it completely reframes the Jags' WR room. The former first-round pick is a route-running maven with big-play ability. He fits perfectly next to Kirk and Zay Jones, bringing much-needed speed to the Jags' offense. Kirk proved worth the money last year, generating his first 1,000-plus yard season after inking a four-year, $72 million deal, and Jones is a solid depth player. The Jags won't be throwing money around in free agency, but adding speed at receiver in the draft, particularly in the middle rounds, would be a big boon to Doug Pederson's offense.
Key free agents: Brandon Powell (UFA)
Health is the biggest factor for the Rams' receiver room. Kupp missed the season's final eight games due to an ankle injury that required surgery. Robinson had an abysmal first season in L.A., catching 33 passes for 339 yards and three TDs in 10 games before also being shut down due to injury. Jefferson never looked right after returning from a knee injury. As the Rams look to bounce back from a dismal 2022, getting all their top targets on the field together and clicking with Matthew Stafford will be essential.
The Hill-Waddle speed-demon combo worked pretty well in its first season, particularly when a healthy Tua Tagovailoa was under center. Each set career highs, blowing past the 1,000-yard mark. Hill generated a whopping 1,710 yards on 119 catches, with Waddle netting 1,356 yards on 75 snags. The speedsters stressed every level of the defense and worked perfectly in Mike McDaniel's scheme. But the drop-off from the top two was steep. Sherfield was the Fins' third-leading receiver with 417 yards. Wilson was nearly nonexistent, recording just 12 catches for 136 yards in 15 games. Given the financial commitment the Dolphins have already made to the position (Hill is set to count for $31.45 million against the cap in 2023) and the presence of bigger needs elsewhere, wideout isn't a priority in Miami outside of adding depth down the roster.
Key free agents: Zach Pascal (UFA)
Brown proved to be everything the Eagles thought when they acquired him on draft day last year. He and Smith form a potent duo capable of winning at every level. Watkins supplies deep speed, even if we'd like to see more consistency. The Eagles have loads of other pending free agents to worry about. Moving on!
Key free agents: Jauan Jennings (ERFA)
It should be possible to retain Jennings at a reasonable cost, keeping the Niners' top three wideouts in place heading into the season. San Francisco's WR room offers the best YAC trio in the NFL, with each capable of turning a 6-yard pass into a 20-yard gain. Coming off Year 3 of his rookie contract, Aiyuk could be a candidate for an extension this offseason. Depth additions could be in the cards for San Francisco, but it's a group we expect little change from in 2023.
The Bucs have a host of free agent questions heading into the offseason, but their top three wideouts all return in 2023. Evans and Godwin each missed two games in 2022 -- and even so, Evans is coming off his ninth consecutive 1,000-yard season, and Godwin posted 1,023 yards. Gage had a disappointing Tampa debut, missing four contests and generating 426 yards and five scores, but he still makes for a solid third fiddle to Evans and Godwin. Adding youth and speed in the draft would help with depth, but it isn't a front-burner issue in 2023.
Key free agents: Cam Sims (UFA)
The Commanders' offense would look dynamic if they could settle the QB position. McLaurin is a dynamite wideout who can flip a game in a heartbeat. The Pro Bowler netted his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. Imagine what he could do with better quarterback play. Dotson flashed brilliance when healthy and is on an upward trajectory. He fits splendidly opposite McLaurin. Samuel can still display some gadgetry. It's a solid trio to build around in DC.