Free Agency Frenzy: 3 wide receivers the Browns could sign3 min read
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By: Barry Shuck
Is Cleveland set at wide receiver? Or not?
The receiver room for the Cleveland Browns is a huge question. Amari Cooper was a Pro Bowl alternate and the unquestioned Number 1 receiver. Donovan Peoples-Jones pretty much solidified himself as WR2 and teeters on being a star in this league.
But then? They drafted David Bell and Anthony Schwartz in consecutive third rounds in the NFL Draft. Demetric Felton was supposed to be this Mr. Versatility. The coaching staff praised rookie Michael Woods, who barely saw the field due to a hamstring injury.
Will the Browns re-sign kick returner/receiver Jakeem Grant who sat out all last season with an Achilles injury? Will they be patient with Jaelon Darden, Daylen Baldwin, Mike Harley, and Marquez Stevenson?
Or perhaps general Andrew Berry will once again sign another veteran to this roster. Just look at what the Cincinnati Bengals are doing with three exceptional receivers.
Here are three possibilities for the Browns.
Jakobi Meyers – New England Patriots
6’-2”, 200 pounds
NFL draft: Undrafted free agent in 2019 (Patriots)
Career Pro Bowls: none
40 time: 4.63
2022 season: 14 games, 67 receptions, 96 targets, 804 yards, 6 touchdowns, 38 first-down catches, 12 yards per reception
Thomas Moore: Jakobi Meyers saw his overall numbers drop in 2022 thanks to missing three games – a knee injury in Week 3, a concussion in Week 13 and a shoulder injury in Week 17 – but he still led the Patriots in targets for the second consecutive season. His six touchdown receptions were a career-best and he has surpassed 800 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons.
Since 2020, Meyers has posted a drop rate of just 3.1 percent, according to Pro Football Focus, which is ninth best among qualifying wide receivers during that time period, and he uses his precise route running to create separation from opposing defensive backs. He is a solid option as an intermediate target, but can also pose a threat on seam routes.
Meyers would be a solid option as a No. 2 wide receiver to pair with Amari Cooper, and playing with quarterback Deshaun Watson would be a significant upgrade after catching passes the past two seasons from Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe.
Contract Projection: Four years, $64 million ($16M per year); $40 million total guaranteed
D.J Chark Jr. – Detroit Lions
6’-4”, 198 pounds
NFL draft: 2018 Round 2, pick No. 61 (Jaguars)
Career Pro Bowls: 1
40 time: 4.34
2022 season: 11 games, 30 receptions, 52 targets, 502 yards, 3 touchdowns, 24 first down catches, 16.7 yards per reception
D.J. Chark Jr. has dealt with injuries the past two seasons that have limited him to playing in just 15 games, but he still put up decent enough numbers with the Detroit Lions in 2022 to draw some interest in free agency.
After returning to the field in Week 12, Chark had three games with more than 90 receiving yards, 11 explosive receptions (per Pro Football Focus) and averaged 17.6 yards per catch, which highlighted his ability to stretch the field and give something for opposing defenses to worry about. His 11 touchdown receptions on passes of 15 or more yards over the past four seasons has Chark tied for eighth-best in the NFL, according to PFF.
His injury history might drive down Chark’s value in free agency, which could put him in play for the Browns even in a year where the wide receiver pool is not deep and teams may be paying a premium for players not necessarily worthy of the big dollars.
Contract Projection: Three years, $35 million ($11.66M per year); $23.5 million total guaranteed
Allen Lazard – Green Bay Packers
6’-5”, 227 pounds
NFL draft: Undrafted
Career Pro Bowls: none
40 time: 4.55
2022 season: 15 starts, 60 receptions, 100 targets, 788 yards, 6 touchdowns, 45 first down catches, 13.1 yards per reception
Barry Shuck: If Cleveland is satisfied with their receiver room is a difficult question to answer. Lazard is still a young man at age 27 and is listed as the third top receiver in free agency.
After Green Bay traded their star receiver Davante Adams last offseason, Lazard became the default WR1. He then had career highs in both targets and receptions. He is also an excellent downfield blocker so he has great value in both the passing and run game. Lazard’s height and long reach are certainly a benefit in the Red Zone.
Contract Projection: Three years, $33 million ($11M per year); $21.5 million total guaranteed
Originally posted on Dawgs By Nature – All Posts