Can we get a senior discount here?
Am I the only one not head over heals for the veteran WRs who switched teams this offseason? I can’t help but proceed with caution. They’ve burned us before. Maybe not these veteran wide receivers but the receivers of our past. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched the industry fall victim to this in the past. That’s right, grab some popcorn and get ready to watch your fairy tale become a nightmare. A nightmare may be a little far. However, I do feel it important to temper our expectations on the veteran free agent wide receivers.
I feel a highly touted rookie has as good of a chance or better of hitting the first year in his new offense as the veteran wide receiver. History supports this theory. Unless you are one of the shoe-in Hall of Fame WRs, it’s likely you will see a 20%-50% or worse decline. Shoot maybe you retire. Sound familiar?
We will be able to find exceptions to this rule I’m loosely making as we go. Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice stand up. Sorry, you don’t count for this. Outside of trying to keep the Hall of Famers out of this, the only other rule was you had to be 28 or older. I’m going to start with my boy Reggie Wayne.
2015 Reggie Wayne to the New England Patriots at 35
I remember this well: Reggie Wayne with Tom Brady!! Oh how amazing it sounded. Most of us were excited, and why wouldn’t we be? A receiver like Reggie Wayne with Tom Brady! It didn’t work out so well, and if you drafted Reggie you were severely burned.
In 2014, his last season with the Colts, Reggie Wayne played in 15 games. He had 779 yards on 64 receptions and only two TDs.
In 2015, at 35 years old, Reggie was cut by the patriots before week one. This is obviously a worst case situation. I understand you might be thinking, his 2014 season wasn’t that good anyway. The point was his decline was 100%+ and how excited the industry was with this move.
Sound familiar to anyone who drafted or picked up Anquan Boldin this year?
2015 Andre Johnson to the Indianapolis Colts at 33
Andre Johnson took Reggie Wayne’s spot and how sweet for us. Andre Johnson finally has a quarterback. Not so fast.
In 2014, Andre Johnson also played in 15 games for the Texans, 85 receptions for 936 yards and only 3 TDs
In 2015, we are excited!! At 33 years old, Johnson played in all 16 games, 41 receptions for 503 yards and he did have four touchdowns. Not even a flex play. He was going in the fourth round even by the likes of Matt Harmon. Even with the touchdowns it’s close to a 50% decline.
2013 Greg Jennings to the Minnesota Vikings at 28
This one was tough, but I think we can still find the decline. I cheated a little for 28 year old Jennings as well. I’m going to throw out his last two years with the Packers. In 2011, in his last somewhat healthy season, Greg Jenning played 13 games, 67 receptions for 949 yards and 9 touchdowns. Then in 2012, 8 games, 36 receptions for 366 yards and 4 touchdowns.
In 2013, Greg was healthy and played 15 games. Through those 15 games, he had 68 receptions 804 yards and 4 touchdowns. Really not that bad, but he played two more games than 2011 and the production isn’t there. We are still around that 20% decline. I realize we weren’t as excited about this move, however he was still going around the second pick of the seventh round. Offseason analyst were calling it a steal.
2010 Anquan Boldin to the Baltimore Ravens at 29
I almost didn’t do this one because Boldin has had such an amazing career when you look at his numbers. While it didn’t show the biggest decline in production, I believe it still supports my theory.
In 2009, Boldin played in 15 games for the Arizona Cardinals: 84 receptions for 1024 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not a ton of TDs but very respectable numbers all the same. I think it’s noteworthy he had 10 touchdowns in 2008.
In 2010, as a Raven, he played 16 games, 64 targets for 837 yards and a decent 7 touchdowns. He played in one more game than the year before and still lost 20 receptions and 200 yards for about a 20% decline.
2011 Chad Johnson to the New England Patriots at 31
This was a nightmare of a season for “Ochocinco.” I’m sure some of us remember.
In 2010, Chad Johnson played 14 games for the Cincinnati Bengals, 67 receptions for 831 yards and 4 touchdowns.
In 2011, with Tom Brady, Chad was healthy and played 15 games. He had 15 receptions for 276 yards and 1 touchdown. He just never caught on in the offense. It was a joke all year; he wasn’t ownable. Another old guy we got excited about going to the Patriots.
Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos at 31
Wes Welker was such a stud in New England, in
2012 Wes Welker played in 16 games, 118 receptions for 1354 yards and 6 touchdowns, his lowest number of touchdowns since 2009.
2013 with the Denver Broncos Wes Played in 13 games, 73 receptions for 778 yards and a very nice 10 touchdowns. Almost 600 fewer yards and 50 fewer receptions! Even with the extra 4 touchdowns, this may show one of the bigger declines. This was still with a Peyton Manning lead team. To be fair, I think we expected the decline in production but not this much.
So this year I’m trying to stay away from these guys. Sure, one maybe two could hit, but that could still mean a decline. Players I believe could fit this mold to name a few: Brandon Marshall to the Giants at 33, Eric Decker to the Titans at 30, Desean Jackson to the Bucs at 30, Kenny Britt to Cleveland at 28 (did his situation really get any better?), Jeremy Maclin to the Ravens with no Flacco at 29 and last but not least Pierre Garçon to the 49ers at 30. Garçon is the one if any, I can to be talked out of. Last time he played for Shanahan he lead the league in receptions. He’s been going a little early for my liking, so I have no shares.
I’m not saying these players won’t help you. I’m saying look before you leap, and watch out for the change in terrain at the landing spot.