Following Calvin Ridley‘s departure, the Falcons will need to address this position heavily in free agency. This isn’t a stellar class for wide receivers, but Terry Fontenot prides himself on finding value, and the Falcons badly need a WR2. There are plenty of those. If you missed my 2023 Offseason Overhaul series, where I went through and spent Atlanta’s cap space in my own perfect world, those are linked below:
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Quarterback
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Running Back
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Wide Receiver
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Tight End
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Offensive Line
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Defensive Line
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: EDGE
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Linebacker
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Cornerback
- Falcons 2023 Offseason Overhaul: Safeties & Special Teams
I’ll be ranking these guys considering costs and overall scheme fit, as well as if they would be brought in as a starter or reserve. Previous Editions are listed below:
Current Rostered Wide Receivers
WR Drake London
WR Frank Darby
Yep, that’s it. Olamide Zaccheaus, KhaDarel Hodge, and Damiere Byrd are all free agents. Outside of some practice squad guys, this is as barren as Atlanta’s receiver core has been since Julio Jones got to town in 2011. Frank Darby isn’t even a lock to make the roster. Let’s take a look at some names.
10. Trent Sherfield — Miami Dolphins
After coming over from the 49ers, Sherfield thrived in Miami behind arguably the best receiver duo in the league in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. However, at 26 years old, he may be looking for a more prominent role. The Falcons can provide that.
2022 Stats: 30 Rec, 417 Yards, 13.9 YPC, 2 TD
9. Olamide Zaccheaus — Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons can probably get Zaccheaus back for pretty cheap, and I expect there to be mutual interest. Even without Ridley, Zaccheaus never took off. I understand potential frustration, but a team-friendly deal makes a ton of sense here.
2022 Stats: 40 Rec, 533 Yards, 13.3 YPC, 3 TD
8. Noah Brown — Dallas Cowboys
Brown had a few breakout games in 2022, and I expect him to cash in on those, with the Cowboys having other needs to fill. Brown exploded in a couple of games when he was heavily featured, proving he can potentially be a very valuable WR2 that won’t break the bank.
2022 Stats: 43 Rec, 555 Yards, 12.9 YPC, 3 TD
7. Jakobi Meyers — New England Patriots
Before the 2022 season, Jakobi Meyers only had two touchdowns over three NFL seasons. He went for six scores in 2022 and racked up over 800 yards in the process. At 6’2 and 200 pounds, expect the Falcons to be interested in Meyers as a WR2.
2022 Stats: 67 catches, 804 Yards, 12 YPC, 6 TD
6. Mecole Hardman — Kansas City Chiefs
Although he has dealt with some injury troubles in 2022, Hardman has been a productive player for the Chiefs and has helped them to a Super Bowl. He’s not Arthur Smith’s prototypical receiver, but he could be a dangerous weapon in the slot.
2022 Stats: 25 Rec, 297 yards, 11.9 YPC, 4 TD
5. JuJu Smith-Schuster — Kansas City Chiefs
Two Chiefs in a row, and although Smith-Schuster isn’t the player he was for the Steelers, he’s still one of the better players in this group. Smith-Schuster is a willing run blocker and all-around physical receiver, even if he isn’t elite at any one thing. His main knock here is going to be his likely price point.
2022 Stats: 78 Rec, 933 Yards, 12 YPC, 3 TD
4. DJ Chark — Detroit Lions
Over a couple of seasons in Jacksonville, Chark looked like a guy who could become a true star in the league. Water eventually found its level, but Chark is still a serviceable WR2. Pairing him with Drake London would be a very respectable duo, and if he decides to leave Detroit, I could see the Falcons pouncing.
2022 Stats: 30 Rec, 502 Yards, 16.7 YPC, 3 TD
3. Parris Campbell — Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were a disaster this year, but the speedy Campbell could still appeal to the Falcons, especially if they look to get him involved as a runner. He’s only 25 years old, so he could be a part of the present and future for Atlanta.
2022 Stats: 63 Rec, 623 Yards, 9.9 YPC, 3 TD
2. Darius Slayton — New York Giants
Slayton had a fantastic year in Brian Daboll’s offense, and the former Auburn Tiger may be looking to cash in on his performance. He’s absolutely in play as a WR2 alongside Drake London.
2022 Stats: 46 Rec, 724 Yards, 15.7 YPC, 2 TD
1. Allen Lazard — Green Bay Packers
Once again, it’s the man who was near the top of this list last year before signing a second-round tender to stay with the Packers. I don’t mean to be boring or beat a dead horse, but the fit just makes way too much sense. Lazard fits the profile of an Arthur Smith receiver, especially as a willing run blocker. Lazard has all but confirmed he wants out of Green Bay, and the Falcons should absolutely be interested in making him Drake London’s running mate in 2023.
2022 Stats: 60 Rec, 788 Yards, 13.1 YPC, 6 TD