2022 Free Agency Primer: Big Name Wide Receivers to Monitor
Earlier in the month, we took a deeper dive into the 2022 free agent running back class. Now, it’s time to talk about the pass catchers.
The 2022 free agent wide receiver class features a handful of high-profile names, including quite possibly the best receiver in the game. Let’s dig into some of the most marquee names, and make some predictions as to whether they’re staying with their current teams or hitting the open market.
After claiming that this would be his last season in Green Bay over the summer, rumors are surfacing that the Packers could slap the franchise tag on the star wideout. And if Adams is dissatisfied, could he ultimately hold out? And even if he happily plays on the franchise tag, we have no idea who will be throwing him the ball, as Aaron Rodgers seems poised to leave town as well. Adams is a top 3 wide receiver annually when he’s happy and healthy. But there’s more uncertainty surrounding him than there has been in years past.
Prediction: The Packers place the franchise tag on Adams, resulting in a training camp holdout. However, a run to the Super Bowl leads to Rodgers returning to Green Bay after a dramatic season.
Godwin is an example of why playing on the franchise tag is such a risk. Godwin did so in 2021 and suffered a torn ACL late in the season that’ll surely impact his next contract. The injury puts a damper on what was another really good season from Godwin, who’s one of the best slot receivers in the league. There’s no doubt about his talent, and at just 25 years old he’s entering his prime. But the injury and the likelihood that he’s leaving Tampa makes him a risky WR2 in fantasy in 2022.
Prediction: Godwin leaves Tampa Bay but misses the start of the 2022 season.
Williams was tremendous in his second season with Justin Herbert, finishing as the WR10 this season. Williams and Herbert developed a wonderful rapport on downfield and red zone throws. Williams posted 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 and is due for a huge raise. Fortunately, Los Angeles is projected to have more than $60 million in salary cap space, which means bringing back Williams is feasible.
Prediction: Williams agrees to a long-term deal with the Chargers and is drafted as a top 12 receiver in 2022 drafts.
Beckham is really intriguing. After getting shunned out of Cleveland, he’s been on his best behavior since arriving with the Rams. But he’s 29 years old, injury prone and still a risky personality. The Rams likely can’t afford to bring him back next season, but there could be a contender that’s wiling to take a shot on him as a high upside starter.
Prediction: Beckham signs a short-term deal with a playoff contender and comes into 2022 as a risky WR3.
Robinson’s value went into the toilet in 2021. But I’m not sure if that’s all his fault. Chicago’s offense was a dumpster fire led by the inept Matt Nagy. Robinson’s quarterback situation was abysmal, as the Bears rotated between Andy Dalton, rookie Justin Fields and even Nick Foles. Robinson was also hurt for a chunk of the year, playing just 12 games. At 28 years old, Robinson has plenty of years left and is still an immensely talented player. For his sake, I hope he signs with a team with a stable quarterback situation. A-Rob deserves it. He certainly won’t be making $17.8 million annually on his next deal, however.
Prediction: Robinson signs a short-term deal as a WR2, and depending on his QB could be in store for a bounce back season.
Smith-Schuster is the biggest wild card on this list. His 1,400-yard 2018 season feels like a decade ago. He was able to play in Pittsburgh’s wild card round matchup after suffering a serious shoulder injury in Week 5. Smith-Schuster is still only 25 years old. There might be a team out there that still believes he can be a dynamic slot receiver.
Prediction: Smith-Schuster gets a change of scenery, and will be a late-round flyer if anything in 2022.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.