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2024 NFL free agency: Ranking top 10 available wide receivers, projected contracts, best team fits

The NFL in-season time is electric, no doubt about it, but now that we are in the offseason, a new type of fun is set to begin.

Free agency and the draft provide the opportunity for all 32 teams to alter their rosters, for better or worse. The wide receiver position gains importance seemingly every season for every team in the league outside of the back-to-back Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, thanks to quarterback Patrick Mahomes‘ historic brilliance. 

However, even the Chiefs — whose 2023 receiver group led the NFL in drops (28) and drop rate (12%), according to SportRadar — will be in the market for upgrades. Here is a look at some of the best options currently set to hit the open market as free agents in March along with their contract market value and a few team fits. 

Honorable mention WR free agents (UFA): K.J. Osborn (Minnesota Vikings), DJ Chark (Carolina Panthers), Kendrick Bourne (New England Patriots

10. Curtis Samuel, Washington Commanders

The Miami Dolphins need a reliable third receiver after Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Curtis Samuel is a threat as a receiver and a runner, exactly the type of player Mike McDaniel would enjoy scheming open. The Chicago Bears could also reunite Samuel with former Panthers teammate D.J. Moore in an effort to add more playmaking to their downtrodden passing game. 

The Texans could also use more explosion in their receiving corps after Nico Collins and Tank Dell, and Samuel could certainly provide it in the slot or lining up outside. He would be an upgrade over an aging Robert Woods, and his presence could take some pressure off of Dell in his return from a season-ending leg injury. 

Best team fits: Dolphins, Bears, Texans

Spotrac’s market value: Three-year, $34.6M contract ($11.5M AAV, No. 23 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 28 (turns 28 on Aug. 11)

9. Odell Beckham Jr., Baltimore Ravens

Beckham’s free agency isn’t going to be followed with baited breath this time around as he failed to emerge as a regular component of the Baltimore Ravens’ offense last season.

Aaron Rodgers and Beckham have spoken highly of each other in the past, and a return to MetLife Stadium to play alongside Garrett Wilson makes a lot of sense. So does teaming up with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce in K.C. as Beckham could add another dimension in the red zone and contested catch department. 

Beckham almost joined the Cowboys last offseason, sitting courtside at a Dallas Mavericks game and spending a good chunk of time visiting the team in late 2022. Dallas could cut underperforming third receiver Michael Gallup, opening up some room for a more inexpensive version of Beckham this time around. 

Best team fits: Jets, Chiefs, Cowboys

Spotrac’s market value: One-year, $11.9M contract (No. 22 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 32 (turns 32 on Nov. 5)

8. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals 

The eight-year Bengal may need to find a new home in 2024 with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins due significant raises. Obviously, his best fit as a reliable slot receiver and run blocker is with Cincy.

However, the Atlanta Falcons could use those qualities with Van Jefferson and Scott Miller failing to impress alongside Drake London and Kyle Pitts last season. Boyd is the type of reliable veteran pass-catcher the next Falcons quarterback could rely on with ease while also being an asset helping to block for Bijan Robinson

The Eagles desperately need a third receiver to help Jalen Hurts out when defenses go out of their way to take away A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith on the outside. The corps of Julio Jones and Quez Watkins weren’t reliable for Philly last season, but Boyd could be a critical difference-maker for the 2022 NFC champs.  

Best team fits: Bengals, Falcons, Eagles

Spotrac’s market value: Three-year, $26.1M contract ($8.7M AAV, No. 31 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 30 (turns 30 on Nov. 15)

7. Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears

Darnell Mooney flashed some strong potential in 2021 when he totaled career-highs in catches (81) and receiving yards (1,055) at age 24. However, injuries and offenses more centered around running the football have dampened his shine the last two seasons. 

Kansas City would be a great place to revive his career given the clear need it has and Patrick Mahomes’ ability to make almost any receiver serviceable. The Ravens could use more juice at the position in Baltimore with Odell Beckham Jr.’s likely departure. The Eagles would also provide a soft landing spot with the ability to line up as a No. 3 alongside A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. 

Best team fits: Chiefs, Ravens, Eagles

Spotrac’s market value: Four-year, $41.9M contract ($10.5M AAV, No. 25 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 27 (turns 27 on Oct. 29)

6. Gabe Davis, Buffalo Bills

The 2023 Gabe Davis breakout many projected entering 2023 didn’t quite happen, and now he hits free agency with a high probability of playing somewhere else besides Buffalo given cap situation as the Bills currently are projected to have the second-fewest cap space in the league. 

If he wants to take the JuJu Smith-Schuster route (take a one-year prove-it deal to play with Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and then get paid the following offseason), the defending champion Chiefs would welcome him with open arms. The Washington Commanders are set to have the most cap space in the entire NFL ($73.6M), per OverTheCap.com, and they could use more size at receiver alongside Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson

The Bengals will also likely have an opening with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins currently set to become free agents. Cincy also has nearly $60 million in cap space ($59.4 million) plus the ability to get open looks running alongside Ja’Marr Chase and catching passes from Joe Burrow

Best team fits: Chiefs, Commanders, Bengals

Spotrac’s market value: Four-year, $54.5M contract ($13.6M AAV, No. 20 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 25 (turns 25 on April 1)

5. Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals

Marquise Brown, a first-round pick back in the 2019 NFL Draft, should have a decent market as a speedster who has multiple years left on the right side of 30. Certainly the Cardinals like to keep him after not trading him at the deadline in 2023; plus he is one of quarterback Kyler Murray’s closest friends in the league since the two were college teammates at Oklahoma.

Should he depart to another franchise, the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears both make sense. The Panthers have a clear need at receiver, and new head coach Dave Canales has shown the ability to create a solid attack after his revival of Baker Mayfield in Tampa Bay last season. 

Brown also isn’t a true WR1, but pairing him with DJ Moore on the Chicago Bears as a high-end second receiver makes a lot of sense. Plus, Chicago has money to burn with just under $67 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.com, and the allure of also likely adding 2022 Heisman Trophy winner in USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

Best team fits: Cardinals, Panthers, Bears

Spotrac’s market value: Four-year, $59.5M contract ($14.9M AAV, No. 20 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 27 (turns 27 on Dec. 20)

4. Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars

Calvin Ridley had an uncomplicated season on the field in 2023, his first year back after a gambling suspension that wiped away his 2022 campaign. He led Jacksonville in receiving yards (1,016) and receiving touchdowns (eight), a solid return to NFL action. 

However, if the Jaguars re-sign Ridley, the conditional third-round pick they owe the Atlanta Falcons jumps to a second-round pick. Jacksonville could clearly use him alongside Christian Kirk and Evan Engram, but given that price tag, he could easily get scooped up by another team. 

The Detroit Lions fresh off a run to the NFC title game have the cap space to make Ridley a competitive offer as well as entice him with the ability to play for a legit contender. The Tennessee Titans have just over $65 million in cap space this offseason, and he could give second-year quarterback Will Levis another reliable target alongside DeAndre Hopkins

Best team fits: Jaguars, Lions, Titans 

Spotrac’s market value: Four-year, $68.2M contract ($17.1M AAV, No. 17 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 30 (turns 30 on Dec. 20)

3. Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts

Michael Pittman Jr. picked a great time to have his first 100-catch season in 2023 just before becoming a free agent. His 109 catches were the fifth most in the NFL last season and tied for the fourth most in a single season in Colts history, ranking as the most by a player in Indy since Reggie Wayne’s 111 back in the 2010 season. 

The big-bodied target (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) is certainly critical to the Colts’ development of quarterback Anthony Richardson. However, if he isn’t franchise-tagged and hits the open market, he’ll have plenty of suitors. The division-rival Houston Texans could use a strong third receiver to go along with Nico Collins and Tank Dell, and they enter the offseason with over $50 million in cap space. Pittman would also make sense as a replacement for the player ahead of him on this list in Tampa Bay as well. 

Best team fits: Colts, Texans, Buccaneers

Spotrac’s market value: Four-year, $90.9M contract ($22.7M AAV, No. 9 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 27 (turns 27 on Oct. 5)

2. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Only one person in NFL history has opened their career with 1,000 or more receiving yards in each of their first 10 seasons: Mike Evans. If he goes for 1,000 again in 2024, he will tie the wide receiver GOAT Jerry Rice for the longest streak of 1,000-yard receiving seasons in league history. 

The Buccaneers’ all-time leader in catches (762), receiving yards (11,680) and receiving touchdowns (94) is fresh off one of the best seasons of his career in 2023, co-leading the NFL with 13 receiving touchdowns while also totaling 79 catches and 1,255 receiving yards. The longest tenured receiver with his current team, Evans could easily re-sign with Tampa Bay. He could follow his former offensive coordinator Dave Canales to the division-rival Carolina Panthers, or if he wants to ring-chase, Evans could take a little less money and link up with the team he helped beat in Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs. 

Evans is likely to actually be a free agent and not be tagged, making his market one of the most fascinating ones to watch this upcoming March. 

Best team fits: Buccaneers, Panthers, Chiefs

Spotrac’s market value: Four-year, $95.3M contract ($23.8M AAV, No. 8 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 31 (turns 31 on Aug. 21)

1. Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

Tee Higgins is the top free-agent wide receiver prize on the market given his past production (consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2021 and 2022) plus potential (he is just 25 years old). 

Sure, he did total career-lows across the board in catches (42), receiving yards (656) and receiving touchdowns (five) while playing in a career-low 12 games because of a nagging hamstring injury. However, he has the ability to jump for any throw and get himself open downfield in a hurry as well. Higgins likely won’t hit the market despite the receiver franchise tag value projected to be $20.7M. 

If he does, he’ll have plenty of options with some of the league’s most receiver-needy teams possessing significant amounts of cap space. 

Best team fits: Bengals, Patriots, Titans

Spotrac’s market value: Four-year, $74.4M contract ($18.6M AAV, No. 14 highest-paid WR in terms of AAV)

Age in 2024 season: 25

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