Free Agent Preview: Wide Receiver
The Bears dished out a six-year $30 million contract to WR Muhsin Muhammad days before the start of free agency last year. General manager Jerry Angelo could look to spend money on the position for a second straight year.
New England Patriots WR David Givens is an unrestricted free agent and seems destined to cash in big time. His career highs in catches (59 this season) and yards (874 in 2004) appear modest, but the Patriots' spread-the-wealth approach to the passing game keeps anyone (other than Deion Branch in the playoffs) from posting big numbers. When Branch was sidelined by a knee injury in 2004, Givens had three straight 100-yard games - a fact that did not go unnoticed around the league.
WR Reggie Wayne will be an unrestricted free agent but team president Bill Polian has said that he is committed to signing him to a career contract.
WR Antonio Bryant caught 69 passes for 1,009 yards to lead the Browns, but he also dropped several key passes, and those drops weigh in the decision on whether to re-sign him. The Browns say they want him and Bryant says he wants to return.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antwaan Randle El also may have played in his final game for Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. He will be an unrestricted free agent in March and the Bears will be among the top suitors for his services.
Green Bay Packers WR Antonio Chatman was more than serviceable in a prominent role (three starts) and more than doubled his 2004 output with 49 catches. He figures to be re-signed as a restricted free agent.
Minnesota Vikings WR Koren Robinson, never used as a kick returner in his first four seasons with Seattle, was elected to the Pro Bowl at that spot after leading the NFC and finishing fifth in the NFL with a 26.0-yard return average. He also had a touchdown return in an upset victory over the New York Giants.
KR-PR Eddie Drummond, selected to the Pro Bowl a year ago, was again hampered by injuries and slipped from 26.6 yards to 22.0 on kick returns, and from 13.2 to 6.0 yards on punt returns. He's an unrestricted free agent and his future in Detroit is up in the air.
Atlanta Falcons WR Brian Finneran was the Falcons' most consistently productive receiver for the first two months of the season. The Falcons should try hard to re-sign Finneran, who triggered a clause in his contract that made him an unrestricted free agent.
Bucs WR Ike Hilliard was a serviceable backup and is an unrestricted free agent.
San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Lloyd is scheduled to be a restricted free agent, and the 49ers have sent mixed signals about what they think of him. He probably will be back playing under a one-year tender. Lloyd is not very physical, and he appears incapable of going over the middle. However, he is capable of making some mind-boggling acrobatic catches. Lloyd was the team's leading receiver with just 48 catches for 733 yards and five touchdowns.
Buffalo Bills WR Josh Reed (32 catches, 449 yards), an unrestricted free agent, had a nice bounce-back year and is likely to be retained as the primary slot receiver.
Patroits WRs Tim Dwight (19-332, three TDs) and Andre' Davis (9-190, one TD) are both free agents who showed some big-play ability but can't be considered must-keeps.
San Diego Chargers WR Reche Caldwell, a free agent, probably won't be brought back as the team has grown weary of his up-and-down play.
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