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NFL Free Agent Rankings: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
By Matt Horkman

Wide Receivers

1. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Yesterday, the Cowboys used the franchise tag on Bryant, something he doesn’t seem enthusiastic about. A team would have to relinquish two first-round picks to sign him. For the right team, giving up two first-round picks for Bryant isn’t farfetched. He’s arguably the best receiver in the game. Odds are Dallas would match any offer, though. He’s too valuable to their organization.

Possible Destination: Dallas

2. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
The Broncos also used their franchise tag on Thomas yesterday, ensuring he’ll remain with the team for at least one more year. He has an interesting decision to make. Does he really want to play for Denver after Peyton Manning retires? It’d cost the Broncos too much to franchise him in consecutive seasons, so he could conceivably play 2015 on the franchise tender, and leave the Manning-less Broncos next offseason.

Possible Destination: Denver

3. Randall Cobb, Green Bay PackersRandall Cobb
Because they selected Davante Adams and Jeff Janis in the 2014 draft, many mistakenly believe the Packers have enough depth at receiver to move on from Cobb. They couldn’t be more wrong. Neither Adams nor Janis has a skill set comparable to Cobb. In fact, general manager Ted Thompson probably saw them as replacements for James Jones, who played on the outside for the Packers before departing for Oakland last offseason. Cobb plays the slot. Moreover, he does it better than any receiver in the NFL. He’s also capable of lining up in the backfield, something Mike McCarthy frequently did with him when he wanted to spark his offense. Letting go a young, homegrown receiver held in high regard by coaches and the front office would be uncharacteristic of Ted Thompson.

Possible Destinations: Cleveland, Green Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, & Seattle

4. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
After tearing his ACL in 2013, Maclin had a fantastic bounce-back season in 2014. He caught 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Eagles want him back, and Maclin would like to return, but I wouldn’t be surprised if old coach Andy Reid gives him call.

Possible Destinations: Kansas City & Philadelphia

5. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
Crabtree has underachieved in San Francisco, producing just one 1,000-yard season in his six-year career. He may opt to sign with an offense that’ll better utilize his skills as a receiver.

Possible Destinations: Carolina, Cleveland, Minnesota, Oakland, & San Francisco

6. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens offered Smith $19 million in guaranteed money last offseason, a number he apparently rejected. I doubt he gets that kind of cash this year, but he is a valuable deep threat, and quietly scored 11 touchdowns in 2014.

Possible Destinations: Carolina, Cleveland, Baltimore, Minnesota, & New England

7. Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams
Britt could flourish with a talented quarterback, but he seems incline to return to the Rams because of his respect for Jeff Fisher. If he hits the open market, then New England would be a good fit.

Possible Destinations: Buffalo, New England, & St. Louis

8. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
Shorts had a solid 2012 campaign, catching 55 passes for 979 yards and 7 touchdowns. He hasn’t been the same since. Playing for a team with a woeful quarterback situation is one of the reasons why. Ironically, while Jacksonville continues to develop Blake Bortles, Shorts may head to a team with an even less quarterback-friendly environment in 2015. Shorts is a Cleveland native, and the Browns are desperate for receivers.

Possible Destinations: Cleveland, Jacksonville, & Tennessee

9. Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers
A valuable slot receiver, Royal is coming off back-to-back productive seasons in San Diego. The Chargers are obviously a good fit for him, but it’s possible he could get more money elsewhere. Several teams could use an explosive receiver out of the slot. 

Possible Destinations: Carolina, Oakland, San Diego & Tennessee

10. Hakeem Nicks, Indianapolis Colts
At 28, Nicks is still young enough to develop into an above average outside receiver. Somebody will bite, eventually.

Possible Destinations: Cleveland, Indianapolis, Oakland, & St. Louis

Best of the Rest
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Stevie Johnson, San Francisco 49ers
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
Mike Williams, Buffalo Bills

Tight Ends

1. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Returning to Denver doesn’t seem likely for Thomas, who turns just 27 in June. His numbers might be somewhat inflated from playing with Peyton Manning, so Denver probably isn’t willing to pay him Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski type of money. Another team will, though.

Possible Destination: Atlanta, Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, & St. Louis

2. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
Because of Cleveland’s woeful quarterback situation, Cameron has yet to achieve his full potential. He may look to sign with a team with an already proven signal caller. The Packers and Aaron Rodgers could use a tight end to round out their offense.

Possible Destination: Atlanta, Denver, Green Bay, Jacksonville, & Seattle

3. Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Clay, 27, is one of the most unheralded tight ends in the league, having caught 127 passes over the last two years. The Dolphins wisely used the transition tag on him, giving him a salary of just over $7 million for 2015.

Possible Destination: Miami

4. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
Gresham does a nice job of moving the sticks, but he lacks the explosiveness to turn into a steady threat between the 20s. The Bengals are likely to let him walk, as they transition third-year tight end Tyler Eifert into a larger role. 

Possible Destination: Atlanta, Denver, Buffalo, & New England

5. Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams
Put Kendricks, 27, in the right offense and he could probably net you 50 or 60 catches. The Patriots, who have yet to replace Aaron Hernandez, would be a great fit for him.

Possible Destination: Denver, Green Bay, Miami, New England, & St. Louis

Best of the Rest
Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens
Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
Tony Moeaki, Kansas City
Niles Paul, Washington
Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos

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