The 2018 free agency period brought us a few big moves; let’s take a look at some wide receivers that will be looking to make an impact on their new teams.
Coming off his worst year since 2010, the once reliable pass catcher looks to bounce back in Oakland. Making room for Nelson, the Raiders shipped out Michael Crabtree, lining up the former Green Bay Packer opposite off Amari Cooper. The soon to be 33 year old (in May), will play a similar role as what he played in Green Bay. Known as an elite red zone threat, Nelson will fit in perfectly, as his predecessor Crabtree accounted for 26.4% of his team’s targets inside the 20-yard line and 45.45% inside the 10. Let’s take out last year as his Quarterback was Brett Hundley for the majority of the season (11 games).
The former Kansas State wide receiver, Nelson, led the league in red zone targets, catches, catch% and was the only player with double-digit touchdown red zone catches in 2016. Before his injury in 2015, Nelson was a top 5 wide receiver in the Red Zone for the previous two seasons. The middle tier Raiders passing game needed a lift, coming off a season where they only had 24 passing touchdowns while averaging 6.7 yards per attempt (20th). Oakland is in for some big changes, and new Head Coach John Gruden is known to lean on the run game, so it will be interesting to see how much of the offensive share Nelson will see. This offseason, Gruden also added Doug Martin to go alongside Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, giving merit to the importance he emphasizes on the ground game.
Making a big splash in free agency this year, the Bears secured the wideout with a 3 year, $42 million contract with $25 million guaranteed. Immediately he steps into an offense as the primary receiver, on a team missing over 225 targets and almost 2,000 receiving yards from last year. Coming off a season-ending ACL injury in 2017, skepticism is high for a franchise needing a reliable wide receiver to help the growth of Mitch Trubisky.
As a rookie, the quarterbacks top wide receiver last season was Kendall Wright, which led the team with 59 receptions and only 1 receiving touchdown. His second best option was versatile running back Tarik Cohen, who also had a putrid 53 catches while only getting in the end zone once as a pass catcher. The hiring of Matt Nagy gives hope, to an offense that’s in desperate need of a makeover. He takes command of a team that ranked dead last in the NFL in passing yards last season (2811) to go along with an ambiguous 13-12 TD-INT ratio.
The Chiefs GM Brett Veach, made it clear he wanted to add more speed to his offense for Patrick Mahomes to have at his disposal. What does Kansas City get in the landing one of the top free agents this offseason? A 24-year-old speedy pass catcher with big-play ability that stretches the field and keeps defenses honest. With the explosive Tyreek Hill also on the receiving core, opposing defensive backs will have a headache keeping up with the two playmakers. Keeping the former Clemson standout healthy will be the key to his production and that’s a trend he has failed to follow in his pro career.
He has only played 16 games once in his three-year resume. The Chiefs are hoping Watkins can get back to his form in 2015, where he tallied 1047 yards and 9 touchdowns. Over his career, Watkins has averaged 16.1 yards per catch, ranking him in the top 20 at his position. The fans at Arrowhead will be fired up this season and with good reason. A budding GM, new offensive coordinator, and a quarterback with a cannon of an arm to show off his new weaponry.
The Jaguars took a significant risk signing Moncrief to a one year $9.6 million contract. Risky because he has sat out 11 games in the last two years only accounting for 56 catches, 698 yards in 21 games.
Chasing his ghost of 2015, where he had 1031 yards, the Cowboys took a chance on the 6’3, 201-pound wideout. With Cole Beasley in the last year of his contract, the Cowboys hope to have found their slot man locking him up for two years. Although his most productive years were lining up outside in 2014 and 2015, Hurns played mostly in the slot last year.