2012 Free Agency: Wide Recievers


One of the areas the Buccaneers can stand to upgrade is the wide receiver position. Now they aren’t nearly as awful as they are here as they are in other areas (See: everywhere else) but any help is welcome. The Bucs probably won’t lay out the phat dollars to ring in a wide out as they already have a talented corps of guys. Mike Williams is the hands down No.1 and Preston Parker emerged last year as one of the better slot receivers in football. But the hype and flavor of next year (as it was last year when Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl) will be “you need a top receiver to win in the NFL”. Last year it was a franchise quarterback the year before that it was defense.

The Bucs won’t fall into this trap but anytime you add another weapon to Josh Freeman’s arsenal you want to capitalize.

Mario Manningham

The Bucs are very much in the market for a receiver and given their new offensive coordinator they could very well be a front runner to land Manningham. It took Manningham a while to get cozy in New York and right when it seemed he was ready to take off and be a No. 1, Victor Cruz showed up and changed all that. Now Manningham can command a decent contract to be a big deep threat for someone else and that might be Tampa. He is very much like Mike Williams and anytime you can get two home run threats on the field at the same time, well that’s never a bad thing. Manningham will draw coverage off of Williams and will free up the entire receiving corps. This is essentially what the Bucs want and with Mike Sullivan the new offensive coordinator, Manningham will enter a familiar situation. Sullivan coached up Eli Manning in New York and Manningham can expect a similar style of offense which means little adjustment in the playbook. Plus, he’s still considered up and coming and is viewed as ‘yet to bloom’. If the Bucs give him a shot to prove his worth to the entire league, that’s a hard offer to pass up.

Vincent Jackson

Jackson is the nest available wide receiver to hit a market that is seeing the kind of talent swell that occurred at cornerback last year. Jackson needs to be added to Tampa’s arsenal as he would cause defenses to take pressure off of Mike Williams. That’s really the key for the Bucs in adding another big time, home run receiver. If Williams is single covered, he can flourish as can Preston Parker and Arrelious Benn. He’s a 6’5″ monster that will make the Bucs offense similar to what the Atlanta Falcons are rolling with in that it will be deadly on paper. The catch is making it work in a game.

Mike Wallace

The Steelers surprised everyone and neglected to place their franchise tag on Wallace. He’s a restricted free agent but the Bucs can make a play at him with everyone else come Tuesday. The chances Tampa lands the deep threat are minimal at best. Wallace won’t want to come to a team that is not only in the dumps but a place that will designate him the No. 2 guy. However, adding Wallace would instantly make the Bucs wideouts deadly. No longer could defenses double team Williams, they’d have to compensate for Wallace in addition to Parker, Benn and Winslow. Wallace will bring in top dollar, but if the Bucs some how convince him to come to Tampa and let another big quarterback with a big arm throw to him, the rest of the NFC South better watch out. But the Bucs would have to give up a first round pick to get Wallace and that’s a pick they won’t give up when they need Morris Claiborne.

Marques Colston

There is a theme of stealing divisional talent and adding it to their roster that the Bucs can really follow this free agency. However, Marques Colston may be the bottom barrel option for the Bucs when it comes to stealing from the Saints. Not to be misunderstood, Colston — on paper– is an amazing receiver. On paper, he would add a real zing to the Bucs passing attack and can really take pressure off Preston Parker and Kellen Winslow. But the Bucs don’t want to take pressure off of them, they want to free up Mike Williams and Colston won’t do that. There is also the major cloud hanging over Colston that his stats were heavily padded by the fact he has one of the best gunslingers in football, Drew Brees, throwing to him. He is basically a product of the Saints system and for the price he may command, it’s not worth it to see if he can flourish without Brees throwing him the rock. He has been in New Orleans his whole career and is he decides to split now for the money, it’ll really put a spin on his priorities and his character. Anytime a so-so receiver that is flourishing in a system designed for high powered stats splits and moves on, it rarely works. Ask Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards and Sidney Rice how well that worked out.

Reggie Wayne

He’s an iffy choice and will be hard to get. As it stands now, it appears the Peyton Manning will be a package deal with Reggie Wayne. The Bucs will not be anywhere near the market for Manning and therefore would have to pay a premium to get Wayne, which is a price not worth the product. Wayne is old, there is no way around that and although older receivers have been productive, Wayne’s success has heavily depended on Manning’s. If the Bucs make a play at Wayne, it will be a head scratcher. Although Wayne would be an upgrade for the Bucs, he’d be a rental and an experiment not unlike signing Colston would be.

Brandon Lloyd

Lloyd really emerged out of complete obscurity when he made his name in Denver but faded back into the mist when he was traded to St. Louis when he refused to play for Tim Tebow. SO it has been established that he will be a problem when the going get’s questionable and his decision making skills aren’t top shelf. But he is a top shelf option at wide receiver and can improve the Bucs corps. But Lloyd said he’s following Josh McDaniels wherever he goes which we know now is New England. Although that may seem to take him off the market, just because Lloyd says he’ll follow McDaniels, doesn’t necessarily mean the Patriots will want to sign him. Given their utter and embarrassing failure at the position on the biggest stage in the NFL, adding Lloyd would make sense for the Pats. The Bucs could use him, but he’s got a big head and will hold out for the highest bidder.

Plaxico Burress

Age is an issue for the Bucs but when it comes to receiver, a position that they don’t really need to upgrade long term as much as they do at other positions. So adding a guy as aged and seasoned as Plaxico Burress would make sense. If the Saints are going to add Randy Moss, the Bucs grabbing Burress would be a direct counter. Burress is built to do the exact same thing Moss does: catch deep balls for touchdowns. The theme of adding a receiver would be to draw coverage away from Mike Williams which Burress would do. But even if Burress isn’t a long term solution for the Bucs, what he does in the short term can be very valuable. Taking coverage away from Williams will allow him to fully develop into the receiver the Bucs want him to be — in the Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress mold. Who better to learn the craft from then one of the two men themselves? Burress won’t roman a high value contract, but his production isn’t promised.

Randy Moss

No one thought that with this talented pool of receivers looking for work that Randy Moss would toss his name in the hat — but why not? He’s tried out for the Saints who claim he looks like the Randy Moss that electrified the NFL in a Vikings uniform. If this is true, then the Bucs should make a play at Moss. They passed two years ago when he hit waiver wires, and refused to offer him a deal when he was begging for one in tattered clothes while threatening retirement. Now that he wants back in the NFL, and if he is as good as the Saints say, then he can be a real asset. Mike Williams is a guy the Bucs want to make their Randy Moss and who better to learn to be Randy Moss from then Randy Moss? But Moss isn’t known for his character and as soon as he was thrust back into a horrible situation in Minnesota, he reverted to the punk thug ways that booted him out of there at the beginning of the 2000’s. The same can be said for his time in Oakland where he fell off the face of the Earth. Not that the Bucs are as bad as the Raiders were, but if Moss is comparing the Saints and Drew Brees to the Buccaneers and their epic rebuilding mode, who do you think he’ll choose. Under Tom Brady he fixed his career and made leaping progress on the Hall of Fame trail and moving on to another future Hall of Fame quarterback in his prime in Drew Brees will put him right back on that legendary track. Freeman is a Daunte Culpepper style deep thrower and Moss made his name catching those passes. But there will be books written about how Moss is the best receiver who almost was. He is notorious for going only half the effort and playing whenever he wants to. In Minnesota he walked off the field against the Redskins when the Vikings could have won the game. He disappeared in Oakland and he’s not that young anymore with a 2-4 track record in his history with teams and has only flourished when either young or having a Hall of Famer throw to him.