A Weird Year For Wide Receivers is Only Going to Get Weirder

It is not every day that a football player changing their Twitter bio is considered news, but today it is. There isn’t a ton of newsworthy stuff happening in the NFL that doesn’t relate to the draft so A.J. Brown removing the word “Tennessee” from his Twitter profile caused a stir. This comes on the heels of Brown, Terry McLaurin, and Deebo Samuel all skipping offseason workouts as they angle for contracts. If something were to happen with any of those three players it would be the second wave of this weird wide receiver offseason.

It all kicked off with Calvin Ridley getting suspended for the 2022 season due to gambling but even he had trade rumors swirling about him before that announcement. Obviously, the biggest dominoes to fall over the past few months were Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill getting traded and then signed to massive extensions. Those moves overshadowed moves such as Robert Woods and Amari Cooper getting traded to the Titans and Browns, respectively, Allen Robinson signing with the Rams in free agency, the Jaguars grossly overpaying for Christian Kirk, and the Titans releasing Julio Jones. The only non-weird moves this offseason involving wide receivers were the extensions of Stefon Diggs, D.J. Moore, and Chris Godwin.

But all that stuff was just wave one and there will surely be a second one. The draft will play a huge part in that. There are five to six wideouts that could be drafted in the first round and plenty of talented players to be had after that. We may not see anything happen with the current crop of professional receivers until the rookies are drafted so that may be what sets everything in motion.

There are tons of names to watch out for when this second wave of wide receiver chaos hits. Of the three names I mentioned previously, Brown seems to be the most likely to be involved in something unexpected. There is clearly some sort of rift there that can only be mended via trade or extension. If he is traded it will probably lead to more reactionary moves either from the Titans or from the other teams in the division that Brown goes to (or both). If he is extended it likely won’t have as large of a ripple effect, other than the next young wide receivers to sign extensions.

Every year we see a level of one-upmanship with NFL contracts that seems far pettier than we would expect from these players. Every big-time player that signs an extension has to become the highest-paid player at his position. Obviously, Brown and some of the other young wideouts won’t be challenging the Adams and Hill deals but they could play their own little game to see who gets the most money. If Brown signs first then certainly the next wide receiver will start his asking price at just above what the Titans dished out. The only question is who that player will be.

I think McLaurin and Samuel are perfect candidates for extensions. McLaurin should want to stay as the number one option for a team in a winnable division. Plus he will be catching passes from Carson Wentz now and he is probably one of the only wide receivers in the league that would be happy with the thought of that (but at least he will have a real NFL quarterback for once). Samuel is in the best place for him in terms of system fit so he shouldn’t want to leave and go to a different offense. He should demand to be paid like the offensive weapon that he is and take as much money as he can before he suffers another injury.

The biggest (literally) domino to fall after Brown is D.K. Metcalf. There have been rumors about teams attempting to acquire him and based on the way Seattle is getting rid of players it is not the worst idea to give it a shot. But Metcalf is another receiver that should be in line for a huge payday and he will likely top whatever money Brown gets. Seattle has made it clear that it wants to resign Metcalf so if the feeling is mutual we could see a deal get done this summer. That could then lead to Seattle shopping Tyler Lockett so that it isn’t giving out a boatload of money for two wide receivers to catch passes from Drew Lock (or tackle defensive backs after they have picked him off). Lockett is older but is still playing really well and could be a perfect addition to a contending team with a need at wide receiver (*cough cough* Green Bay *cough cough*).

Those are some of the most likely names to be involved in whatever tumult is still to come with the wide receivers. But no matter what happens, it will not be confined to just those players. Some unexpected player will join that group at some point. It could be Marquise Brown or Tyler Boyd or Adam Thielen. Or someone completely out of the blue. Not to mention there are still some very talented free agents out there such as Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, and Odell Beckham Jr. The craziness at wide receiver is nowhere near finished, it has only just begun.