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NFL free agents 2022: Ranking the top 10 wide receivers

NFL free agents 2022: Ranking the top 10 wide receivers originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The NFL’s best wide receivers are used to being open. Now, some are on the open market.

There is no shortage of elite receiving talent in the 2022 NFL free agent class. There are, however, questions about just how available some of the pass catchers are, as well as when some can return to the field. Quarterback movement could also play a role in free agent receivers staying put versus taking their talents elsewhere.

Top 2022 NFL free agents by position: QB | RB | TEOL | DLEDGE | LB | CB | S | KTop 25 overall

One thing that is for certain? The top-notch wideouts are going to get PAID. Teams seeking a star pass catcher will have options this spring, but just how much will they be willing to pay up?

Here’s a look at the top 10 wideouts set to become free agents this spring.

10. DJ Chark Jr.

Age: 25

2021 stats (Jaguars): Seven catches, 154 yards, two touchdowns

Chark’s 2021 campaign came to an abrupt end in Week 4 as he suffered a fractured ankle. That likely marked the end to Chark’s Jaguars tenure too as he might benefit from a fresh start in Year 5 of his NFL career. The last couple of seasons haven’t gone Chark’s way, but his 2019 numbers (73 catches, 1,008 yards, eight TDs) still should be enough for a number of teams to come calling this offseason.

Contract projection: 2 years, $20 million

Age: 25

2021 stats (Steelers): 15 catches, 129 yards, zero touchdowns

Smith-Schuster hasn’t been able to regain form since he burst on the scene in 2017 and put up dominant numbers in 2018. His yards per target have dropped dramatically from his rookie campaign (11.6) to 2020 (6.5). This past season, he missed 12 games due to a shoulder injury. He still has plenty of value as a reliable third-down target out of the slot, but he’ll likely have another one-year contract headed his way in free agency.

Contract projection: 1 year, $10 million

Age: 25

2021 stats (Cardinals): 77 catches, 982 yards, five touchdowns

Kirk hits free agency after a career season with the Arizona Cardinals. The Texas A&M product set a personal best with 982 receiving yards and caught 74.8% of his targets (fifth among WR with 100+ targets). He played primarily out of the slot in 2021, but he also has plenty of experience out wide. Kirk’s versatility and steady improvement should make him a hot commodity as he enters his age-26 season.

Contract projection: 4 years, $50 million

Age: 26

2021 stats (Cowboys): 35 catches, 445 yards, two touchdowns

When healthy, Gallup looked like a wideout ready to sign a lucrative contract in free agency this spring. The problem is he wasn’t able to stay on the field, and a torn ACL suffered in Week 17 likely will keep him sidelined for the first half of the 2022 campaign. Gallup’s talent should still make him a coveted wide receiver, but a short-term deal might make the most sense given the injury.

UPDATE: Gallup is staying in Dallas after signing a five-year extension.

6. Antonio Brown

Age: 33

2021 stats (Buccaneers): 42 catches, 545 yards, four touchdowns

Some believe Brown won’t play another down in the NFL after his wild walk-out incident with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since Brown hasn’t officially called it quits, we’re operating under the assumption he’ll find a job in 2022. The troubled wideout might not be the same dominant weapon he was during his days in Pittsburgh, but he’s proven he can still make a sizable impact. It’ll simply come down to whether there’s still a team out there willing to take on the obvious risk that comes with signing him. Given how Brown treated Tom Brady during his exit from Tampa, that’s a major question mark.

Contract projection: 1 year, $1 million

5. Odell Beckham Jr.

Age: 29

2021 stats (Browns, Rams): 44 catches, 537 yards, five touchdowns

It’s safe to say the issue in Cleveland was, in fact, not Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ went from having another disappointing season with the Browns to finding immediate success with the Los Angeles Rams. He caught five TDs in eight games with L.A. after failing to haul in a single TD in six games with Cleveland. He then went on a tear in the postseason, catching a touchdown pass in Super Bowl LVI before exiting the game with a torn ACL. Beckham’s resurgence with the Rams undoubtedly boosted his free-agent stock and reminded everyone of just how talented he is when he’s playing up to his true potential, but there is now an injury concern.

Contract projection: 2 years, $15 million

4. Mike Williams

Age: 27

2021 stats (Chargers): 76 catches, 1,146 yards, nine touchdowns

Williams hits free agency after the best season of his NFL career. The former Clemson standout notched career-highs in catches (76) and receiving yards (1,106) while hauling in nine TDs. He occasionally struggled with drops, but his freakish physical abilities and improvement year over year should have teams fighting for his services this offseason.

UPDATE (March 8): Williams is staying with the Chargers on a three-year, $60 million contract.

3. Allen Robinson

Age: 28

2021 stats (Bears): 38 catches, 410 yards, one touchdown

It’s time for Allen Robinson to stop wasting the prime of his career in horrific passing offenses. After spending the first four years of his career in Jacksonville, Robinson has spent the last four on a Chicago team that has had Mitchell Trubisky, Andy Dalton, and rookie Justin Fields throwing him the ball. The Bears offense ranked dead last in yards per game in 2021, which contributed to the worst season of Robinson’s otherwise impressive NFL tenure. He’ll look to find a much better situation for himself in 2022.

Contract projection: 4 years, $60 million

2. Chris Godwin

Age: 26

2021 stats (Buccaneers): 98 catches, 1,103 yards, five touchdowns

Godwin’s outstanding 2021 season was marred by a torn ACL in Week 15. One of Tom Brady’s favorite targets in Tampa Bay, Godwin had already set a career-high with 98 receptions in only 14 games. Like Gallup and Beckham, he’ll hope for a deal that reflects his level of talent despite his brutal injury.

UPDATE (March 8): The Buccaneers have placed the franchise tag on Godwin.

1. Davante Adams

Age: 29

2021 stats (Packers): 123 catches, 1,553 yards, 11 touchdowns

Adams is ready to sign a record-breaking contract as arguably the best wide receiver in today’s NFL. He’s coming off yet another monster season with the Green Bay Packers with career-highs in catches and receiving yards. Some of that might have to do with having an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, but Adams’ route-running and ability to find the end zone are second to none. He’d cost the Packers about $20 million to franchise tag him this offseason.

UPDATE (March 8): The Packers have placed the franchise tag on Adams.

Honorable mentions: Jamison Crowder, Will Fuller, Cedrick Wilson, Braxton Berrios, Isaiah McKenzie, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, A.J. Green, Sammy Watkins, Keelan Cole.