Free Agent Big Board for the Falcons: Wide Receiver

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There may not be another position that gets a bigger overhaul this offseason in Atlanta than the wide receiver room. Calvin Ridley is in the thick of multiple trade rumors, and if Russell Gage and others are not re-signed, the only rostered wide receiver for the Falcons will be 2021 sixth-round pickĀ Frank Darby. Darby, who is still developing, only snagged one catch for 14 yards in 2021.

Regardless, I think the Falcons will look to wide receiver in the draft, especially if they get some form of draft compensation for Ridley. The Falcons likely can’t afford an Allen Robinson, Davante Adams, Mike Williams, or Chris Godwin — but there’s plenty of value in free agency. If you want to read the previous editions of these big boards, they are linked below:

15. Zay Jones — Las Vegas Raiders

Jones never quite lived up to the hype coming out of ECU as the FBS’ all-time leader in catches for a single-season and career, but he could make for an option to bring into camp. When you need warm bodies, betting on the upside of a guy like Jones for a low cost makes sense.

14. A.J. Green — Arizona Cardinals

While Green isn’t a top-five wide receiver in the league like he was in his prime, he could still bring a valuable veteran presence to Atlanta and make a few plays on the boundary. Even with Ridley, the Falcons badly need help on the perimeter. Plus, it would be a fun homecoming story for the Georgia Bulldog.

13. Jauan Jennings — San Francisco 49ers

Dawg fans, look away, but Jauan Jennings has quietly had a nice NFL career with the 49ers. He has had enough flashy moments in the NFL to warrant his placement on this list (see Week 18 against the Rams), but I think it’s more likely the 49ers give him a raise to stick around.

12. Byron Pringle — Kansas City Chiefs

The undrafted free agent receiver has made a lot of big plays for the Chiefs, and has provided an impact on special teams as well. The big question is if Pringle will be as effective outside of their system. If he is, some team is going to have a steal on their hands.

11. Emmanuel Sanders — Buffalo Bills

Pencil in Emmanuel Sanders as a solid veteran who can get you 600-800 yards per season and come up with some big time catches. Sanders isn’t the same guy he was in Denver a few years ago, but there’s no doubt he has some good football left in him.

10. Will Fuller — Miami Dolphins

Probably the biggest wild card on this list, Fuller has battled injuries and suspension after a monster 2020 season. He has had issues staying healthy, and he only made it to Week 4 of a prove-it deal in 2021 before being placed on IR. The talent is there, but there’s a lot of risk that comes with Fuller. If the price is right, I’d be willing to roll the dice.

9. JuJu Smith-Schuster — Pittsburgh Steelers

Smith-Schuster is a really polarizing player, and personally, I could leave him off this list without any issues. However, even though he has shown he isn’t a true first option, he can still be effective, and the Falcons need all of the help they can get. Maybe just lay off the Tik Toks.

8. Christian Kirk — Arizona Cardinals

I’ve had issues with Kirk’s effort at times, but he would instantly be an impact player on Atlanta’s offense. The question is going to come down to price, because I don’t think you can pay him as a first option wide receiver.

7. Rashard Higgins — Cleveland Browns

This is where we’re getting into guys I really like for Atlanta. Higgins saw an increased role after the Browns moved on from Odell Beckham Jr., and I think he’s worth giving a deal to as a 27-year-old who can be a piece now and going forward. Maybe he could become a solid second or third receiver in an increased role, and I don’t think he would break Atlanta’s bank.

6. Cedrick Wilson Jr. — Dallas Cowboys

I have some questions regarding how well Wilson will play outside of the offensive paradise in Dallas, but there’s no denying he was fantastic for his role in 2021. Wilson had a few monster games, including a 119-yard and two touchdown performance in Week 17 against the Eagles. He’s only 26 and will only improve. He would make a nice second option.

5. Isaiah McKenzie — Buffalo Bills

This isn’t me being a UGA homer. I promise. McKenzie isn’t much of a traditional receiver, but he’s a gadget player that makes a huge impact on special teams for the Bills. McKenzie does get a few targets here and there, but I think with his ability after the catch and as a runner, Arthur Smith could do some special things with him.

4. Russell Gage — Atlanta Falcons

Fans are split on Russell Gage, but I think for the right price, he makes way too much sense to bring back to the Falcons. He has expressed some interest in returning and is a fine piece to bring back to serve as a complimentary wide receiver.

3. Michael Gallup — Dallas Cowboys

Gallup may be out of Atlanta’s price range, but even off of a torn ACL, he would be an immediate difference maker for the Falcons. Gallup is a true outside threat that sometimes didn’t get to shine in Dallas due to the emergence of CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, but he still put up 1,100+ yards in 2019 and 445 yards in eight starts in 2021. He would be a really solid pickup.

2. DJ Chark — Jacksonville Jaguars

While he fell into a decreased role in Jacksonville in 2021, Chark was electric in 2019, putting up 1,008 yards and eight scores. He’s a true playmaker on the perimeter at 6’4, and the Falcons would finally have an X Receiver to help replace what Julio Jones gave them on the outside. Plus, Chark shouldn’t cost too much.

1. Allen Lazard — Green Bay Packers

I think Lazard makes the most sense for the Falcons for multiple reasons. For starters, he caught eight touchdowns this year and can make big catches in the red zone. At 6’5, he averaged 12.8 yards per catch, which means he can go get balls and make plays stretching the field. He’s a solid blocker, and I don’t think he would cost Atlanta an arm and a leg. Regardless of what Atlanta does at receiver this offseason, Lazard should be high on their free agent list.

 

 

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