Predicting Landing Spots for 2020’s Top NFL Free Agents: Wide-Outs/Tight Ends

(3/10/20)

While most sports fans are getting ready for NCAA’s March Madness Tournament, I am totally locked in for my own version of madness- NFL Free Agency.

We are just 8 days away. 8 DAYS PEOPLE. So I have been doing research, reading articles, and making my best educated predictions for all that is about to consume the football world next week. We’ve talked about the QB’s and the ball carriers- but now is time to shift focus on to the top pass catchers.

Amari Cooper:

Now, it is quite obvious that Amari is the most talented, biggest game changing receiver to be a free agent this off season. However, I doubt that the Cowboys would let him walk after trading two 1st rounders away from him not too long ago. He was their most productive receiving threat BY FAR last season, and without him on the field they are severely limited outside of Zeke Elliot. So, of course it makes sense for the Cowboys to work to get a deal done ASAP.

Amari has made it known that he wants to be “a Cowboy for life”, but Dallas needs to finalize a deal with Dak Prescott first before they can turn their attention to the star receiver. The recent push back of the franchise tag deadline could prolong negotiations even longer- but look for Cooper to stay in Dallas.

A.J Green:

The Bengals are pretty much a mess in my eyes. They are probably the least talented team in the league and need to bring in a large influx of new players to reach a ‘contending’ status in my book.

With that being said, I think Green will look to move on- despite rumors of the Bengal’s plan to retain him with a franchise tag. Green is aging and just outside of his prime, but he definitely has a lot to offer to a team that is looking to make a super bowl run this season. I have read that teams like Denver and New England have expressed interest in the vet- but Philly is by far the best fit.

The Eagles have lacked a consistent receiving threat not named Zach Ertz or even Dallas Goedert. They are also essentially cleaning house at wide-out with Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffrey seemingly ready to move on. So, A.J Green is the best fit in Philly’s offense. He provides the same big bodied, sure-handed receiver that Jeffrey brought to the team, but offers much better route running and athleticism. If Philly can also add a field stretching weapon (Desean could still provide that if healthy), their offense would be back to championship form.

Austin Hooper:

This news came as a shock to me. Hooper was insanely productive for the Falcons and was a consistent pass catcher to take some heat off of Julio and Ridley. The Falcons have to be in a lot of financial trouble if they can’t afford to bring him back. I see Hooper as the safest FA tight end available, and with several teams in need of a solid tight end- he will easily find a home.

Of all the teams that have already expressed some sort of interest, Green Bay is the best fit. They experimented and tried to revive Jimmy Graham’s career- but that didn’t ever turn into anything. However, with Hooper’s elite stats regarding both passer rating when targeted and YAC (according to PFF), I’m sure Aaron Rogers would love to add him to his arsenal of weapons.

Hunter Henry:

Henry is an intriguing prospect in this free agency class. To me, he is probably the most talented tight end available and produced impressive numbers… when he was on the field. I listed Hooper as the safest option at tight end, solely due to the long injury history that Hunter Henry has had throughout his young career. With so much potential and the ability to provide a Kittle/Kelce presence on the field at TE, Henry will be highly sought after.

The Chargers seem to be on the decline offensively and it seems likely that they’ll want to start rebuilding on that side of the ball. Paying Henry doesn’t do them much given his injury history. Plus they are already losing key pieces in Melvin Gordon and Phillip Rivers and still hold on to Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen. In other words, the Chargers should look to invest their money on defense and use draft picks to fill in the QB/TE gaps (especially with two high quality weapons staying).

So if not the Chargers, where does Henry end up? As young as Henry is and given his upside- the Cardinals would be a perfect match. Arizona got minimal production from the tight end position last season ( a combined 42 receptions for 439 yards and 2 touchdowns between Clay and Maxx Williams in 2019), so an elite talent as a safety blanket could help Kyler Murray feel a bit more comfortable and become a more confident passer. Outside of Fitzgerald, the Cardinals need some help in the receiving department and I really feel like Henry can have a massive impact.

Robby Anderson:

As someone from the Philly area, I’ve been following the Temple product for awhile- and I love his ability to stretch the field and provide explosive plays for any offense. I mean, he did it for the struggling Jets offense the past couple of years.

For that reason, I think he stays in New York and the Jets make an effort to keep him on roster for awhile. Given the rise of Sam Darnold and Anderson’s chemistry with the young QB, it makes sense for NY to re-sign him. As mentioned, he is an underrated deep threat that would compliment a big bodied target that the Jets need to find to provide Darnold a reliable receiving group. Not to mention they need A LOT of offensive line help… but that’s discussion for a different article.

Emmanuel Sanders:

After a championship game appearance as a mid-season addition for the 49ers, it doesn’t seem like negotiations are even on-going. So, the sure-handed, route running specialist would be an excellent addition to any potential contender.

News on any interested teams has been quiet, but I could see Philly, Indy, and New England all as potential fits. All 3 teams need desperate help at the receiving position and have money to make a short-term deal (Sanders is in his 30’s). The best and most likely landing spot is probably New England.

With Indianapolis’ tendency to not make big splashes in free agency (especially for an aging receiver as they look ahead to the future) and Philly filling this need with A.J Green (and likely looking to sign RB depth, a new left tackle, and continuing to search for an answer at corner), I could really see New England going after the vet in order to add another weapon to lure Brady back/make their new starting QB feel comfortable.

Before I conclude, I want to make it a point that I work on these articles throughout the duration of about a week (have to balance school work and side-work). So, I already know that some of these predictions are going to be wrong based on news I hear around the league- but I stick to my predictions and post them anyway because that’s what my instincts tell me.

Anyway, that wraps up the offensive skill positions predictions. Now, I will make an effort to get out a piece on the top defensive players before free agency kicks off. As we mourn the halt of the sports world around us, we can at least look forward to NFL free agency madness and the draft.

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