Top Free Agent NFL Wide Receivers

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NFL teams are now in the franchise tag window, so it’s entirely possible — and probable, in a couple of cases — that not all of the top wide receivers on the free agent market will still be there when free agency officially kicks off in March.

The cost of a franchise tag on a wide receiver is projected to be $20.7 million, so the incentive to avoid the tag and sign a long-term extension is big.

Tee Higgins

The Cincinnati Bengals had a lost season in 2023 because of the injury to quarterback Joe Burrow. Wide receiver Tee Higgins also took a big step back in his production. But he is only 25, and in 2021 and 2022, he went over 1,000 yards.

Most experts agree that the Bengals won’t allow him to actually hit the open market. They will use the franchise tag, and then try to turn it into an extension. Keeping the trio of Burrow, Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase is critical to their success going forward. 

Ohio online sportsbooks also see it happening this way, and have the Bengals as -500 favorites to keep Higgins.

Mike Evans

It’s not hyperbole to call Mike Evans one of the most consistently good wide receivers in NFL history. He has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first 10 seasons in the league, and an 11th such season will tie him with Jerry Rice for the longest streak in history.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not expected to place the tag on Evans, which will send him to the open market. He’s 30-years-old, but not slowing down, and Spotrac.com calculates his market value at four years and $95.3 million.

Florida retail sportsbooks have the Bucs as the favorites to keep him (-165). But he could follow last year’s OC Dave Canales to the Carolina Panthers, or try to help the Kansas City Chiefs win a third consecutive Super Bowl.

Michael Pittman Jr.

The Indianapolis Colts have a young quarterback to develop, and keeping him paired with a big and reliable receiver like Michael Pittman Jr. is a must. So don’t be surprised if Pittman gets tagged.

If he isn’t tagged, then there should be an interesting bidding war between the Colts and their AFC South rivals, the Houston Texans. Houston also has a young quarterback, and the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Pittman would go really well alongside Tank Dell and Nico Collins.

Pittman caught 109 passes last year for 1,152 yards, and his market value as calculated by spotrac.com is four years at $90.8 million.

Calvin Ridley

Calvin Ridley missed all of 2022 with a suspension for betting on the NFL, so he has less mileage on his body than most NFL players who will turn 30 during the 2024 season. He also won’t be judged too harshly for not being the game-changer in 2023 that the Jacksonville Jaguars hoped he would be.

Ridley was still good – 1,016 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns – but he was a little rusty, which showed up in inconsistency.

If the Jaguars re-sign Ridley, the third round pick they owe to the Atlanta Falcons becomes a second round pick.

Gabe Davis

The breakout season that was expected in 2023 didn’t happen. Gabe Davis finished the 2023 season with the Buffalo Bills with 43 catches for 746 yards. He also wasn’t around for the Bills in the playoffs because of a sprained knee.

Spotrac.com lists his market value at four years at $54.4 million, which would slot him nicely in Kansas City in the salary space expected to be vacated by Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Chiefs are going to be a player on the wide receiver market, and if they are priced out of the bigger names, Davis is a very good Plan B.

The Bengals might also be a player for Davis, depending on what happens with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.

Stefon Diggs

Stefon Diggs is under contract with the Buffalo Bills through 2027. No one expects him to still be in Buffalo at that point, and there is a possibility that the Bills move him, especially if they keep Gabe Davis. However, their best out is in 2025, when Diggs’ dead cap hit drops to $22 million.

Diggs isn’t a free agent at the moment, but he could be this summer. And if someone made the Bills an offer they couldn’t refuse, they would no doubt take it seriously. New York online sportsbooks see him staying in Western New York, offering -300 odds on the Bills being his team for 2024. The Chiefs and Texans are tied for the second-shortest odds at +1000.

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