The wide receiver position for the Panthers has been in flux for the past two seasons. Two seasons ago, we still had Mushin Muhammad opposite Steve Smith with Dwayne Jarrett, and Kenneth Moore providing depth. Muhammad retired last offseason after not being asked to come back, Smith was plagued with injuries and drops last season and we all know what happened to Jarrett. Last season we went with Steve Smith as the only veteran, and two rookies in Brandon Lafell and David Gettis. And it seemed like we were adding another WR every(David Clowney, Devin Thomas) week whether due to injuries or ineffectiveness. In the end the Depth chart is as follows: Steve Smith, Brandon Lafell, David Gettis, David Clowney, and Armanti Edwards. The receiver position could possibly become a glaring need depending if Smith does indeed get traded. While Lafell and Gettis had big strides in their first season in the starting line-up I don't think either of them is ready to be the #1. And with Armanti Edwards still having trouble transitioning from QB to WR it makes sense to keep at least one eye open to all the potential signs in free agency at the wide receiver position. And though many here have mentioned drafting AJ Green to potentially replace Smitty, do we really need another rookie Receiver pushed into starting duty. All rookie wide receivers do end up struggling at some point during their first season. I believe in the event of Smith being traded that we need to sign a wide receiver in free agency to help this worse ranked passing game elevate itself. And with all the wide receiver possibly looking for new homes in free agency we'll take a look at ones the Panthers could possibly sign after the jump.
Holmes caught the winning touch down catch in Super Bowl XLII with the Steelers and was a game away from reaching the Super Bowl with the Jets. Holmes is as clutch a receiver as you can get and is constantly making huge catches when his team is in most dire need of a big play. Holmes is not that a receiver standing at 5'11'' and weighing in at 192 lbs., but can easily get separation on most DBs and is very elusive. Despite playing 11 games in 2010 he still reeled in 52 catches for 746 yds and six touchdowns. Holmes didn't seem to be affected by changing teams last season and could easily come here to Carolina and be the #1 receiver providing us with a reliable pass catcher and someone who could stretch the field and provide us a deep threat. Though realistically it will be hard to lure Holmes away from his current team seeing as the Jets have said that they play to make him a priority to sign over many other players.
Jackson has been franchised by the Chargers, but the Wide Receiver has been at odds with the organization for quite some time. Jackson is a very big target standing at 6'5'' and weighing in at 230 lbs. giving him a clear advantage over a majority of DBs in the NFL. His stats aren't really indicative of his skills as a receiver seeing as Phillip Rivers tends to spread the ball around very nicely to all of his multiple weapons on offense. He's a very fast, agile receiver who can stretch the field and provide a deep threat the can out jump, or out muscle defenders for the ball. With the CBA still not resolved and the terms of a franchise tag not yet cleared up we cannot trade for Jackson, but when it does get done as disgruntled as Jackson is with the Chargers it would be a lot easier to pry Jackson away from them. Although with how stubborn A.J. Smith is, don't expect him to let Jackson go without a lengthy fight.
Sidney Rice is a big receiver standing at 6'4'' and weighing in at 202 lbs. and is one of the better young receiver in the NFL right now. In 2009 he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and 8 touch downs, which is quite impressive considering how little time Favre had spent with Rice(training camp) to build a rapport in Minnesota. He consistently provided a quick, reliable pass option for the Vikings, though he isn't as much of a deep threat as the other two mentioned above. But he can still stretch the field and command double teams and has very good hands catching almost anything thrown to him. Though the Vikings don't really have many key free agents to sign, I could still see the Panthers luring him away from the Vikings for the right price and Rice could instantly come in and win the #1 receiver spot.
Edwards had a fantastic year with the Jets in 2010 catching 53 passes for 904 yards and 7 touch downs. He's a big target with the build of a big possession type of receiver standing at 6'3'' and weighing in at 214 lbs., but has the speed to stretch the field and provide a deep threat. The only drawback with Edwards is that he has a history with dropping passes and having a diva attitude possibly creating a problem in the locker room and potentially being a bad influence to our young receivers. He lowered his drop numbers drastically this past season, but had done so in Cleveland only to have double digit drops the following season. Snagging Edwards in free agency will be easier seeing as the Jets have stated that his re-signing is not the biggest priority to the team right now. He's a high-risk, high-reward type of player, and if Rivera and his staff can keep him on his best behavior he would be an instant contributor to our offense.
Floyd had a great year with the Chargers in 2010 catching 37 passes for 717 yards, 6 touch downs, and a whopping average of 19.38 yards per catch! And he amassed those numbers even though he only played in 11 games last season, battling injuries the second half of the season and ultimately taking a back seat when Vincent Jackson returned to the line-up. Floyd is a very big receiver standing at 6'5'' and weighing in at 225 lbs. and is a very reliable pass catcher as well as a blocker. He is still relatively young and could provide the Panthers with a legitimate deep threat that could also help block down field in the running game. With so many other players for the Chargers to re-sign, I can see Floyd at least being allowed to test free agency before re-signing him.
Other notable Free Agent Wide Receivers:
Eric Weems- Very good return man, but hasn't really transitioned to the receiver yet. Though has potential to be a very reliable receiver.
Steve Smith- It seems odd that we would potential trade our Steve Smith for the "other" Steve Smith, but he is a good possession receiver with reliable hands and above average speed to get separation.
James Jones- Very talented receiver with loads of potential, but hasn't been able to become a reliable starter yet.
Mike Sims-Walker- Very young, talented receiver, but has a history of leg problems.
Danny Amendola- Also a very young, talented receiver with good hands, good speed to get separation from DBs, and is also an adequate blocker. But unlikely that the Rams will let go key players that will aid in the development of Bradford as a QB.
Well Panther fans, there are a slew of other potential receivers in free agency, but these are the players that I believe could best help the Panthers situation if Smith is actually traded. What do you guys think the potential situation with Smitty and what do you guys think would be the best way to go about fixing it if he does leave?