Who would have ever thought that wide receiver wouldn't be the hot topic of discussion among Eagles fans? Still, the Eagles have surprised us many times before so it wouldn't be a shock to see the team add another wideout in free agency. Or would it? Because of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, seven of my top 10 receivers on this list will only be restricted free agents. Still, you never know.
|1. Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos (RFA)
|Marshall is the kind of big, physical and productive wide receiver that you can build a passing game around. He has three consecutive seasons with more than 100 catches. He caught 23 touchdowns in that span. The problem is that he has some off-the-field and attitude issues. He says the right things to the cameras, but doesn't always back up those words with the right actions. Does a team trust him enough to give up the picks needed to acquire him?
|2. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys (RFA)
|This ranking would have seemed ludicrous back in August. Austin was a solid role player coming into 2009. He had a great year and posted big-time numbers (81 catches, 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns). He is big and fast. He is deadly after the catch. Austin has big-play ability. He averaged just over 16 yards per reception, an excellent figure for a workhorse receiver. You can bet the Cowboys aren't planning on letting him go anywhere. He is the anti-Roy Williams.
|3. Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers (RFA)
|Terrific player, but brings some baggage to the table. Has had a couple of DUI arrests and could be looking at a suspension from the league. On the field, however, Jackson is blossoming into an outstanding player. His numbers have gotten better each of the last five years. Jackson is 6-5 and 230 pounds. He can go up and play the ball up high. He is fast enough to be a vertical threat. He's an ideal fit for the Chargers downfield attack. Could be a real star if he would just clean up his act.
|4. Braylon Edwards, New York Jets (RFA)
|Edwards has great ability, but is maddeningly inconsistent. He will drop passes at the worst moments. Edwards is big, fast, athletic and can make some dazzling catches. He could be one of the top receivers in the entire league if he could just be more consistent. He looked like a stud in 2007, but that proved to be a temporary development. Edwards might play at a high level if he stays in New York and plays with a talented, accurate quarterback like Mark Sanchez. Edwards had some real good moments for the Jets this past season.
|5. Terrell Owens, Buffalo Bills (UFA)
|This name rings a bell for some reason. Owens is coming off his worst year since his rookie season. He had to deal with awful quarterback play and that legitimately did hurt his production. He didn't help matters by seeming to quit on certain plays. He voiced his displeasure to teammates and coaches. Basically, T.O. went T.O. He is still a gifted receiver and someone will sign him, but I bet he doesn't get a multi-year deal or at least not a big bonus.
|6. Derrick Mason, Baltimore Ravens (UFA)
|Father time continues to roll along. He has 10 straight years with more than 60 catches. Mason isn't the biggest or fastest, but he produces week after week, year after year. He wants a two-year deal. He says he'll retire if teams only offer him a one-year deal. Mason is 36 years old, but there hasn't been a decline in his level of play.
|7. Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers (RFA)
|Floyd is coming off a career season where he caught 45 passes for 776 yards. He played well in 2008 and is an ascending player. Floyd is 6-5 and has good hands. He has pretty good speed. He is a good downfield receiver. He averaged 17 yards per reception. The Chargers will give him a high tender. This is someone they want to keep.
|8. Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UFA)
|Bryant might be the ultimate example of how pure talent is overrated. His A-game is better than 90 percent of the receivers in the league. He can do special things. Yet, in eight seasons he has caught just 30 touchdown passes and only has two seasons with more than 45 catches. He was out of the league entirely in 2007. Some team will give him a chance. The right coaching staff could get him to play at a high level, but it will take work.
|9. Steve Breaston, Arizona Cardinals (RFA)
|Breaston was more returner than receiver at Michigan, but he has developed into a good wideout in the NFL. He caught 132 passes over the last two years. He is very good at working the middle of the field. Breaston is quick and knows how to get open. Arizona will try to keep him. If the Cardinals deal Anquan Boldin, as I expect them to, Breaston will become the starter opposite of Larry Fitzgerald.
|10. Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks (UFA)
|Burleson had the second best season of his career in 2009. He caught 63 passes for 812 yards. I don't think he'll be a hot commodity. Burleson can be an effective starter, but hasn't done that with any regularity in his career. The lack of unrestricted free agents does help his cause. It only takes money to get Burleson and that may be enough to help him get a starting spot somewhere.
-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 8:15 a.m., February 28*