Best of the bunch: Wide receivers

Upcoming free agent crop lacks playmakers that Packers need

One of the top areas of need for the Green Bay Packers this off-season is at wide receiver. Aside from Donald Driver, who represented the Packers in the recent Pro Bowl, the team lacks another playmaker at the position.

The Packers feature a few young receivers with promising futures, like Greg Jennings, Ruvell Martin, and Carlyle Holiday, but they have yet to show the consistent impact of a play-making receiver, like Driver.

Koren Robinson is expected to return to the Packers in late September or early October from his year-long suspension from the National Football League for repeated violations of the substance abuse policy. Still, there is no guarantee that Robinson will come back clean and sober.

What to do? The Packers have a chance to improve the depth at the wide receiver position by signing a veteran free agent when the free agency period begins on March 2. The only problem is that this year's crop of wide receivers expected to become unrestricted free agents is not exactly eye-popping.

The top receivers that may hit the open market include Philadelphia's Donte Stallworth, St. Louis' Kevin Curtis and Tennessee's Drew Bennett. Neither of the three are coming off career years, but all have the experience and potential that could benefit the Packers.

At this point, don't expect Packers general manager Ted Thompson to overpay for any of the aforementioned receivers. Some reports have indicated that Stallworth, Bennett and Curtis may be demanding a signing bonus of $10 million or more as part of a mult-year deal. Based on their performances in 2006, it would be a waste of money for Green Bay, and the Packers would be better off drafting a receiver, or working with the young receivers that they have on board.

Randy Moss' name has been floating, reportedly at Brett Favre's behest, as possible trade bait for an offense that craves a deep threat, but don't expect that to happen. The Raiders have yet to be contacted by the Packers, according to a Raiders' spokeman. In any case, the hot-and-cold Moss isn't the best fit chemistry-wise for the young Packers.

If they are available for a reasonable price, here are three receivers scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, that the Packers should pursue:

Kevin Curtis, St. Louis
A deep threat, the 5-foot-11, 186-pound Curtis may draw the most attention from the Detroit Lions where former Rams coach Mike Martz is offensive coordinator.

The Rams have until March 1 to re-sign Curtis, but they may end up drafting his replacement, possibly in the first round.

Playing behind Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce, Curtis had 40 catches for 479 yards and four touchdowns with one start in 2006, one season after he caught 60 passes for 801 yards and six touchdowns in 2005.

Curtis is entering his fifth season and turns 29 on July 17.

Donte' Stallworth, Philadelphia
Like the Rams, the Eagles may decline to re-sign Stallworth and use the NFL draft to select a receiver.

Stallworth, 27, is coming off a ho-hum season in which he had 38 catches for 725 yards, and five touchdowns in 12 games with 11 starts. He was bothered by a hamstring injury throughout the season, which hindered his performance and may keep his asking price down this off-season.

Stallworth (6-0, 196) is entering his sixth NFL season. He had a career-high 70 catches for 945 yards and seven TDs in 2005 with the New Orleans Saints, who selected him in the first round of the NFL draft (13th overall) in 2002.

Drew Bennett, Tennessee
Some reports have indicated that the Titans will make every attempt to re-sign Bennett, who is entering his seventh NFL season. Bennett, who turns 29 on Aug. 26, had 46 catches for 737 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games with 15 starts last year for the Titans. Had a career-high 80 catches in 2004 for 1,247 yards and 11 touchdowns, then 58 catches for 738 yards and four touchdowns in 2005 in 13 games (missed three games with an injured hand and had other assorted injuries).

Other soon-to-be unrestricted or restricted NFL free agents:
Devard Darling/RFA/BAL
Clarence Moore/RFA/BAL
Alex Bannister/UFA/BAL
Andre Davis/UFA/BUF
Drew Carter/RFA/CAR
Justin Gage/UFA/CHI
Kelley Washington/UFA/CIN
Dennis Northcutt/UFA/CLE
Patrick Crayton/RFA/DAL
Quincy Morgan/UFA/DEN
Corey Bradford/UFA/DET
Charlie Adams/RFA/HOU
Ricky Proehl/UFA/IND
Terrence Wilkins/UFA/IND
Aaron Moorehead/UFA/IND
Ernest Wilford/RFA/JAC
Cortez Hankton/UFA/JAC
Samie Parker/RFA/KC
Wes Welker/RFA/MIA
Bethel Johnson/UFA/MIN
Travis Taylor/UFA/MIN
Troy Brown/UFA/NE
Terrance Copper/RFA/NO
Darius Watts/RFA/NYG
Alvis Whitted/UFA/OAK
Sean Morey/UFA/PIT
Lee Mays/UFA/PIT
Shaun McDonald/UFA/STL
Willie Ponder/UFA/STL
Bobby Engram/UFA/SEA
D.J. Hackett/RFA/SEA
Troy Walters/UFA/SEA
Az-Zahir Hakim/UFA/SD
Bryan Gilmore/UFA/SF
Bobby Wade/UFA TEN
Marcus Robinson/UFA
Charles Rogers/UFA
Peter Warrick/UFA

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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