Who Can WFT Target at WR?
By: Euan Leith
After a 3-13 record in 2019, Washington made some changes. A new head coach (Ron Rivera) and a new team name seemed to clear the dark skies hanging over the franchise. It worked terrifically as the team finished a respectable 7-9 and surprisingly added an NFC East crown to their trophy case. A loss to Tampa Bay knocked them out in the Wildcard Round, but this team far and away exceeded any expectations of even the most optimistic Football Team fan.
Now, the franchise needs to build on its success. The defense is in a great spot with a fantastic front-seven, but the offense needs to hold up their end of the bargain as 2021 approaches. Terry McLaurin has been the go-to receiver in this offense over the last two years, but he needs someone to shoulder the load. In 2019, the second-best pass-catcher on the roster was Chris Thompson, a running back, and in 2020 it was Logan Thomas, a tight end.
Per overthecap.com, Washington has the fourth-most cap space available. It’s time for them to focus on the offensive side of the ball. They still need a quarterback of the future. However, if they add one of the following wide receivers, that quarterback will be in a great spot to instantly succeed as the franchise looks for its first back-to-back division titles since 1983/84.
2020 team: Chicago Bears
There are a lot of teams that should think about adding a receiver with Robinson’s skillset. Over the last two seasons, the 28-year old averaged 152.5 targets, 100 catches, 1198.5 yards, and 6.5 touchdowns. He is older than some of the high-profile pass-catchers on the free-agent market this month, but he will still command a large contract.
Without a quarterback, Washington could be a tough sell for the veteran looking to play with a competent quarterback for the first time in his career. However, that $54 million of cap space gives the Football Team enough leeway to overpay for a man of Robinson’s talents.
The 2015 Pro Bowler will make a fantastic 1A to Terry McLaurin’s 1B in the passing attack. It launches the entire unit into one of the best one-two punches in the entire NFL. Having to account for two elite receivers on the outside would also make life a lot easier for Antonio Gibson in the running game.
Adding Robinson is the type of move that continues the positive momentum this franchise began in 2020. There are plenty of receivers to choose from in this free-agent class, but Robinson has the longest track record and has proven he can excel in any situation.
2020 team: Carolina Panthers
The connections between Samuel and the Football Team run deep. Ron Rivera was Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers when they drafted Samuel in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Under Rivera, Samuel broke out in 2019 with 757 total yards and seven touchdowns. He followed that up in 2020 with 118 touches for 1051 yards and five touchdowns.
Now, Samuel is in line to move up the pecking order of any wide receiver depth chart he so chooses. His versatility would make him an incredible asset to Washington’s offense. He has the ability to play your typical receiver role or carry the ball and catch passes out of the backfield. The 24-year old could be the No. 2 receiver behind Terry McLaurin and replace the role that J.D. McKissic had for the Football Team in 2020.
Nine receivers had 100 or more touches in 2020. Curtis Samuel was the only one to reach that mark with less than 125 targets, and he also led those nine receivers with a 79.4 percent catch rate.
Samuel won’t cost Washington as much as the top-tier of free-agent wide receivers this month. Spotrac.com predicts a four-year deal worth $50 million, while ProFootballFocus.com has him with a three-year deal worth $25 million. Regardless, Samuel is a dynamic talent that can open up the playbook for any team. It just so happens that his former Head Coach needs a second wide receiver to lift his offense to the next level.
2020 team: Las Vegas Raiders
Signing Agholor would be a high-upside, low-floor move for the Washington offense. On the one hand, the 27-year old just posted a career-best year with 896 yards, eight touchdowns, and 18.7 yards per catch. On the other hand, he’s coming off that career-best season, and is that something you want to pay top dollar for?
Last season, Agholor signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. Now, he’s expected to cost $7-9 million per year and will be looking for a multi-year deal. It’s a tough conundrum for teams, but that’s why they get paid the big bucks.
For Washington, the 2015 first-round pick would be a suitable complement to McLaurin without disrupting his status as the team’s No. 1 receiver. If they take a swing and miss one of the bigger fish in the wide receiving pool, they are many secondary options, like Agholor, to pick up.
Every fan base wants the big splash signing, but sometimes that’s not how you build a solid foundation for a franchise. Picking up Agholor would be another step in the right direction for Washington, but not as expensive as snagging Robinson or Samuel.