When free agency opens March 11, the Redskins will have about $30 million in salary cap space and lots of holes to fill. Over the next few weeks, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the field of potential free agents, by position, and evaluate who might be a fit in Washington.
Today, we’re looking at wide receivers.
Background: Pierre Garçon enjoyed a career year last season, hauling in franchise-record 113 passes for 1,346 yards and five touchdowns. Injury-prone tight end Jordan Reed had the second most receptions with 45 (in only nine games). The Redskins need a proven wide receiver to be a secondary target for Robert Griffin III and take some of the heat off of Garçon.
Best available: Eric Decker, Broncos. The 26-year-old has good size (6-3, 214 pounds), above average speed and recorded 2,300 yards and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons. It should also be noted that Decker’s quarterback the past two years has been Peyton Manning. But the real question here is going to be how much money Decker will command. If it’s anywhere close to the five-year, $45 million Greg Jennings got from Minnesota last season, expect the Redskins to pass.
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Best fit: Golden Tate, Seahawks. The 25-year-old was Russell Wilson’s top target last season, hauling in 64 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns. Although smallish (5-10, 202), he’s an excellent route runner and fiercely competitive. Tate was also the NFL’s ninth best punt returner, averaging 11.5 yards per, so he could fill two of the Redskins’ needs. Like Decker, the question is how much money will it take? The Redskins are flush with cash after emerging from a two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty. But they’ve also got many positions to upgrade.
Best of the rest: Julian Edelman (Patriots) enjoyed a breakout season, hauling in 105 receptions for 1,056, while also ranking 12th on punt returns; Emmanuel Sanders (Steelers) had 67 catches and 740 yards and can be used as a returner; Dexter McCluster (Chiefs) can do it all, racking up 53 receptions for 511 yards and 686 yards and two touchdowns as a punt returner; James Jones (Packers) had 59 catches for 817 yards, including 178 vs. the Redskins in Week 2; and Jeremy Maclin (Eagles) didn’t play in 2013 because of a torn ACL but his upside could make him worth the risk.