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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 10 Free Agent Wide Receivers in 2023

This year's NFL free agent wide receiver class lacks the top-tier talent of previous years. Which players are among the best available, and where could they land come the new league year? Brett Oswalt ranks the top 10 NFL free agent wide receivers in 2023.
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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 10 Free Agent Wide Receivers in 2023

Ahead of the 2022 season, quite a number of household names and wideouts moved cities. There were a number of high-profile trades and second-level free agent signings, so it would be a tall order for this offseason to live up to the hype of last year when we saw Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, Tyreek Hill, and Christian Kirk change teams.

Still, when the league year gets underway on March 15th, there will be a handful of coveted pass-catchers on the free-agent market. Some could be starters in the right spot, while others could provide great depth to teams that hope to be contenders in 2023. Who ranks atop the class, and whose skills are worthy of top-dollar?

Let's break down the top 10 names.

Ranking the Top 10 NFL Free Agent Wide Receivers

10. Jarvis Landry

Last offseason, two months after being released by the Browns, Landry signed a one-year deal with the Saints to play a prominent veteran role on a conservative offense. He was looking for a bounce-back season, but instead, the now 30-year-old receiver dealt with injuries and appeared in just nine games.

Landry totaled just 25 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown, and his 69.1 grade was 50th, according to Pro Football Focus. He's a far cry from the over-the-middle weapon he was in his five straight Pro Bowl seasons, but he could be a serviceable third receiver on a team with reliable receivers already on their roster. It's unlikely he will land anything more than a one-year deal for less than the $3 million he signed a year ago.

9. Parris Campbell

Unlike Landry, Campbell enjoyed a very nice comeback year for the Colts. His 17 games outnumbered his previous three-year total by two as the oft-injured talent hauled in 63 of 91 targets for 623 yards and three touchdowns. He chipped in through the run game with another 58 yards on more yards per attempt (11.6) than he did per reception (9.9).

The 25-year-old was a bright spot for an Indy offense that struggled through inconsistent quarterback play, injuries, and a turnover in leadership midseason. This is the year for Campbell to capitalize on a decent deal and take the next step in a new offense. Spotrac projects him for a one-year, $2.5 million deal, though it wouldn't be shocking to see a player his age warrant something between a two- and three-year deal in this low-caliber free agent pool.

8. Greg Dortch

Dortch took advantage of others' misfortunes in 2022. Part of the Cardinals' injury-riddled receiver group, the former Wake Forest standout climbed the depth chart to serve as the team's primary slot guy in 16 games and four starts. Overall, he tallied 52 receptions and 467 yards at an extremely yards-per-catch rate and at just 7.3 yards per target.

A large portion of Dortch's passing game involvement came via screens and outlets close to the line of scrimmage. It wasn't anything pretty, but he had seven-plus catches in four games with a 67.6 receiving grade. At the end of the day, Arizona could opt to bring him back from restricted free agency, but in the case he gets a $1.5 to $2 million deal, he could be on his way out, especially if there's a multi-year deal available to him.

7. Mack Hollins

Hollins' early seasons have been defined by splashy but inconsistent play. In bouncing around from Philadelphia to Miami and, more recently, Las Vegas, the 29-year-old has created his opportunities to shine in brief moments, averaging 12.7 yards per catch with 45 first downs and eight scores over his last two years.

In his time with the Raiders, Hollins converted 94 targets into a career-high 57 catches for 690 yards and four touchdowns. His 61.4 receiving grade from PFF was a slight climb from his 57.1 mark in the previous season, and while it won't land him a massive contract, it is going to put him in a spot to secure a one-year deal as a team's third or fourth option in the receiving game.

6. DJ Chark

On the heels of a one-year deal, the former LSU standout was a mild disappointment for the up-and-coming Lions. He played three games, then missed six straight before finishing the year with seven straight starts. When healthy, Chark proved that he could be a downfield threat, though, having averaged a career-best 9.7 yards per target, with two of his three touchdown catches coming from 22 and 48 yards out.

Entering his prime, the 26-year-old carries a market value of $9.5 million per year, according to Spotrac's projections. And with his unique blend of a 6'4" frame and 4.34 speed, he might just be the sneakiest upside pickup of the free agent period. Chark could make a ton of sense for a team like the Chargers, who lacked the speedy outside target Justin Herbert might need to be at his best.

5. Darius Slayton

For Slayton and Chark, they're essentially interchangeable as 26-year-old serious threats. But like Chark, the former Giant has been allergic to staying off the injured list through his first four NFL seasons. Slayton's played in more than 11 games just once, and over the last two seasons, he's started a total of 16.

On the bright side, the veteran wideout had maybe his best season to date in 2022. His 5.8 yards per target in 2021 jumped to 10.2 this past year, and his 65% catch rate was well beyond the average of his first three seasons. A short-term contract in the neighborhood of $3 to $6 million per year is likely in his near future.

Find out more about the 2023 NFL Offseason...

  1. Falcons Favorites to Land Lamar Jackson
  2. Jets Favored to Land Aaron Rodgers
  3. Bills the Favorites to Land Derrick Henry If Traded

4. Odell Beckham, Jr.

It's been quite a few minutes since Beckham Jr. inked the $90 million deal he did in his superstar years in New York. OBJ has been out of football since tearing his ACL in the Rams' 2021 playoff run when he had 21 receptions, 288 yards, and two touchdowns. On top of his five 1,000-yard campaigns, the three-time Pro Bowler has all that to show on his veteran resume.

Fighting against that is Beckham's age and absence from football over the last year and change. Will teams take a gamble, or will they find it hard to meet whatever the asking price -- Spotrac has it at two years and $26 million -- might be for his age-30 season?

3. Allen Lazard

Over the last few years, people have made a stink over the lack of talent around Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. However, outside of Davante Adams, Allen Lazard might be the most reliable receiver they've had during that same span. Since his first productive season in 2019, Lazard has progressed virtually each year to career-highs of 60 catches and 788 yards in addition to 6 touchdowns in 2022.

At 27, Lazard is in the prime of his career, and with Rodgers likely out the door this offseason, the Packers could certainly be looking to turn the page toward their younger receivers. He carries a market value of a 3-year, $35-plus million contract and would have a number of suitors. The Ravens and Titans would line up, among others, to acquire him to be a solid number-two pass-catcher on their depth chart.

2. Jakobi Meyers

For most football aficionados, there's a clear top tier of two and only two free-agent wideouts. The 26-year-old Meyers is one of them, an offseason removed from a second straight 800-yard season, over the course of which he tallied 67 catches and six scores. He improved in terms of both yards per target as well as catch rate and PFF grade (75.6).

At this point, it would be an upset to see Meyers return to New England on either a new deal or a franchise tag. It appears he's poised to get the first contract of his prime for which someone like the Raiders or Lions will gladly pay at value. What could it take exactly? At least three years and no fewer than $10 million per year.

1. JuJu Smith-Schuster

The biggest payday among a rather disappointing receiver class will, in all likelihood, go to Smith-Schuster. For those players that are in their prime, he's the most notable name and has the most reputable resume following a Super Bowl win with the Chiefs. In the championship season, the first-year Chief garnered 101 targets and turned the opportunities into 78 catches, 993 yards, and three touchdowns.

Smith-Schuster is now a proven possession receiver and operates closer to the line of scrimmage. But as we saw in Kansas City, with Patrick Mahomes elevating him to be his best, he can be a number-one guy in the right situation. The landscape of the market would put his value between $13 to $16 million per year for a three- or four-year deal, depending on if a team falls in love with what he has to offer. I wouldn't completely rule out a return, given recent reports, but if I had to throw out one potential landing spot, it's Carolina.

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