• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

2023 Offseason Look Ahead: Wide Receivers Part 1

2023 Offseason Look Ahead: Wide Receivers Part 1

By Doug Harrelson

We have fully hit mock draft season and everyone is in the process of fine-tuning rookie ranks while rookie hype is building up more and more each day. This is always an excellent time to be buying veterans for a discounted rate. None of the receivers we are about to talk about have expensive price tags but some of them possess some real upside for the 2023 season. The WR market also has some big fish potentially available for trade like DeAndre Hopkins and Brandin Cooks. Today we are gonna focus on the ones that we know will be available as free agents this offseason. For Part 1 we are also going to primarily focus on WRs that line up on the outside then for Part 2 we will look into slot receivers and tight ends. Without further adieu, let's introduce you to the 2023 wide receiver free agent class.

Michael Thomas

Best Case: NYG

The Michael Thomas situation is quite confusing at this point but the Saints restructured his contract in such a way that they can let go of Thomas sooner and save some money on the books. Thomas is on board with this because it will allow him to hit free agency sooner to try to land a lucrative deal this offseason. I like the idea of giving Daniel Jones a target that can help him move the sticks. A big-bodied possession receiver could be just the answer he needs. Daniel Jones’ accuracy on intermediate routes pairs nicely with how well Michael Thomas works in this range. I doubt we ever get anything like his historic 2019 season again out of him but anyone that has rostered him this long would be happy to even get WR3 numbers out of him next season at this point. If you have a new member taking over an orphan team in a league, this is the kind of player they will easily part ways with as a throw-in on a bigger trade. 

DJ Chark

Best Case: DAL

After a nice start to his career, Chark suffered a bad ankle injury right before hitting free agency that made a 1-year “prove-it” deal in Detroit the best option for DJ Chark. Unfortunately for him, I’m not sure he will get a lucrative contract this off-season. He may again be looking for a chance to prove himself worth the bigger multi-year deal. A spot that would make a lot of sense if that is his plan for the offseason is Dallas. Their primary WR is CeeDee Lamb but he does a majority of his work from the slot. Adding a receiver like Chark to the outside adds a deep threat for Dak. A guy he can throw it up to and let him play some bully ball. Plus with Dalton Schultz potentially leaving in free agency, they could use the red zone threat that DJ Chark provides.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Best Case: BUF

If you do not think that JuJu Smith-Schuster can beat out Gabe Davis then this is obviously a much worse landing spot. I think it will spark a hot debate over the offseason and allow you to move off of JuJu Smith-Schuster before the season starts. There is some enticing upside here when he was a number two wide receiver to Antonio Brown he was going in the first round of startup drafts. I am not a huge fan of his talent and his game so I am not as excited about his 2023 prospects. He will certainly find a landing spot that will get him some touches but he did this year as well and was maddeningly inconsistent. It is hard for me to get too excited for a player who is leaving an offseason with the best quarterback on the planet for anywhere else. If I had shares, I would keep my fingers crossed for a good landing spot and then flip for the best I can get. 

Allen Lazard

Best Case: Wherever Rodgers Goes

The Lizard King will be out on the open market this offseason. Lazard has been a trusted weapon of Aaron Rodgers for a few years now, in particular in the red zone. We do not have a great sample size of Lazard without Rodgers so it is hard to say what happens if they are separated this offseason. One interesting possibility is the idea of them playing together for another team like the Jets. I could see him trying to follow Aaron Rodgers to another team but if not, he would be a fine addition to any contender looking for a capable threat in the red zone like Dallas or New England.

Darius Slayton

Best Case: KC

Darius Slayton is so close to being a really nice dynasty asset. His ability to get open down the field is fantastic. The combination of drops and not having a quarterback with an elite deep ball has hurt his production quite a bit though. If he were to get unlocked by a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes though, all bets are off. The Chiefs may get more production out of Slayton than they ever did with JuJu Smith-Schuster. This could be a very cost-effective way for the Chiefs to give Mahomes some deep weapons to work with while spending more of their cap space on the defensive end of the ball that they so desperately need help on. 

Marvin Jones Jr.

Best Case: CHI

The Bears trading for Chase Claypool was designed to give a big body and a deep threat. It has not exactly panned out the way they planned though. Marvin Jones Jr. could provide some cheap help on the outside that could be used both as a deep threat, a red zone threat, and a possession receiver to move the sticks. It isn’t exactly flashy or exciting but I think the Bears are going to want to add multiple bodies to their wide receiver room this offseason. They could easily trade for another wide receiver and draft someone and still have room in the starting rotation for Marvin Jones Jr. I don’t think there is too much upside in acquiring him in dynasty but it is nice to at least consider the possibilities that exist after free agency.