NFL Free Agency: Grading the Top WR Signings

Story posted March 27, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Emma Holtz

Wide receiver buzz has reached an interesting peak as notable names are finding their new homes and getting paid big dollars. As the NFL free agency period is in full swing, there have been some substantial acquisitions and re-signings worth investigating. Let’s give four of them a grade.

Will Fuller V → Miami Dolphins: A-

By crunching the numbers, Fuller’s $10.63 million salary for one- ear is the fifth most in the wide receiver category, with Kenny Golladay ranking supreme at a hefty $18 million per season.

The Notre Dame product proved to be lethal during his time with the Houston Texans’ offense. In the 2020 season alone, Fuller averaged 16.6 yards per reception across 53 total receptions. Lucky fantasy managers who started him reaped the rewards with 135.9 total points. His season was cut short by six games due to a performance-enhancing drug suspension.

Fuller’s potential could be exercised in Miami with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at the offensive helm. Fuller’s presence on the field could bolster the Dolphins’ passing strategy, as they have reliability in running back Myles Gaskin and tight end Mike Gesicki to cover other areas.

While the Dolphins are taking a chance on Fuller due to his latest suspension, the organization is making strides to stockpile weapons for Tagovailoa to do some serious damage in the AFC East.

Kenny Golladay → New York Giants: A

To say that Kenny Golladay got paid is an understatement. He secured a four-year, $72 million contract with the New York Giants, who are looking to improve their passing attack.

Golladay has only hauled in 183 receptions in his four seasons with the Detroit Lions but has an impressive 3,068 career yards to show for it. With an average of 16.9 yards per reception during the 2020 season, Golladay proves that he makes the most of his targets.

The Giants could assimilate Golladay into their offense with quarterback Daniel Jones (affectionately called “Danny Dimes” by Giants fans). The organization desperately needed to fill the hole that trading Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns left.

Golladay could very well fill that void. Due to his production with the ball in his hands, drawing double coverage is very possible, meaning other receiving options should be more open more often. Overall, the Giants paid big bucks for the big talent that could jumpstart their offensive strategy.

JuJu Smith-Schuster → Pittsburgh Steelers: B-

After waiting with bated breath, the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed their fourth-year veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year, $8 million deal.

Smith-Schuster saw a 4.5-yard-per-reception dip in production during the 2020 season with only 8.6 yards per catch. With nine touchdowns and 831 yards on the season, it looked like Pittsburgh was going to move on from Smith-Schuster and assign its limited cap money elsewhere.

Smith-Schuster’s newsworthy TikTok video dances on opposing team logos did not help his case from a public relations standpoint.

After quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s paycut saved the organization $15 million, the Steelers focused primarily on offensive re-signings. However, Smith-Schuster turned down other one-year deals to stay in Pittsburgh for at least another season.

If the Steelers are to capitalize on keeping him as a top wide receiver, Smith-Schuster must increase his production and make the most of every target.

Having a veteran quarterback leading a primarily young offense could pose a problem if Big Ben continues to hesitate throwing deep.

Emmanuel Sanders → Buffalo Bills: B+

Emmanuel Sanders’ $6 million dollar deal for one year with the Buffalo Bills is a slightly aggressive push to stoke their offensive prowess.

Sanders’ emergence replaces former Bills wide receiver John Brown, who started just nine games during the 2020 season due to injury. Sanders was an asset to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints but not a primary target. He only had five touchdowns and 726 total yards in 2020.

Nonetheless, the Bills’ receiving core looks to be strong with Sanders standing alongside AFC East powerhouses like Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs.

Sanders could make a nice fit going into the 2021 season in which the Bills are hungry for a Super Bowl appearance.

 

Emma Holtz is a freshman majoring in public relations. To contact her, email exh5337@psu.edu.