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Looking ahead at contract situations is an important dynasty strategy. Free agency, salary cap cuts, and extensions can all have a significant impact on dynasty valuations. This article looks at the wide receiver position.
Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore, the two first-round wide receivers from the 2018 rookie class, have had their fifth-year options picked up. Both will be under contract through 2022 and could be on the extension watch in the next year. Moore’s teammate Robby Anderson is also on extension watch in the final year of his contract.
Courtland Sutton and D.J. Chark Jr are both on extension watch as well, but with checkered injury pasts, the Broncos and Jaguars could opt to play out their contracts or use the franchise tag in 2022. Christian Kirk and James Washington, the other second-round picks from the 2022 class, have been disappointments and will likely find themselves on the free-agent market in prove-it type contract capacity in 2022. Third-round pick Tre'Quan Smith has similarly disappointed after receiving positive buzz earlier in his career. Michael Gallup could be the most intriguing player to watch. He had strong production in his second year before ending up buried behind Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb for the final two seasons of his rookie deal.
Buffalo could cut Cole Beasley and save 6.1 million on the salary cap in 2022, while Emmanuel Sanders is a free agent. Gabriel Davis' role is one to watch. Still, history indicates Buffalo is more likely to address position through the free agent or trade market than depend on developmental options to surround Josh Allen in key wide receiver roles.
Jamison Crowder took a pay cut to stay with the Jets in 2021. He will be a free agent in 2022, along with Keelan Cole. Denzel Mims is an important watch this season, particularly with the additions of Corey Davis in free agency and Elijah Moore in the draft. Mims was selected by the current front office but played under the prior coaching staff. The Jets spending so much capital on the position after drafting Mims is a concerning sign for his standing with the team.
Miami has no guaranteed money commitments left for DeVante Parker and could save 3.5 million dollars in cap space in 2022 by cutting him. Likewise, Will Fuller V is a free agent after signing a one-year deal. The progress of Jaylen Waddle in his rookie season could go a long way to shaping Miami’s decision in the receiving corps next offseason.
Cleveland could save 15 million dollars in cap space by cutting either Odell Beckham Jr or Jarvis Landry in 2022. For each to be back, expect a restructured contract, but there is no obvious heir apparent on the roster.
JuJu Smith-Schuster will be a free agent in 2022, entering his age-26 season along with James Washington. The continued development of Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson could shape the Pittsburgh receiving corps in the post-Roethlisberger era.
Denver receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick are both free agents. Sutton might be a Kenny Golladay-type career arc, given his injury last season. Denver may opt to let him play out the season to see his recovery. KJ Hamler could be a 2022 beneficiary on a stash track.
John Brown signed a one-year deal with the Raiders and is a 2022 free agent. Brown has shown well as a de facto WR1 when healthy, firmly in his range of outcomes without established options in the Raiders receiving corps.
Mike Williams had his fifth-year option exercised by the Chargers and is a 2022 free agent. With the cap flexibility of Justin Herbert on a rookie deal, the Chargers could be in the market for a wide receiver upgrade in 2022.
Brandin Cooks is under contract in 2022, but with a 15.5 million dollar cap hit. Houston could save nearly 9 million dollars in cap space by cutting him. If cut, Cooks would enter free agency in 2022 at age 29. Randall Cobb is likewise under contract in 2022 with no guaranteed money and 8.25 million dollars in cap savings if cut. Nico Collins a potential beneficiary. The financial situation could be complicated by the dead money that would result if Deshaun Watson were traded.
Jacksonville can save 3 million dollars cutting Marvin Jones Jr in 2022 with no guarantees. With the aforementioned Chark, a free agent and potential extension watch this summer, the situation is unclear in 2022. Laviska Sheault’s development could point to an uptick in role in 2022.
Tennessee can cut Julio Jones and save 9.5 million dollars in cap space in 2022 if the trade experiment fails in 2021. There are no clear options behind Jones on the depth chart, so the situation would have to go poorly for Tennessee to resort to cutting Jones.
Amari Cooper has 22 million dollar cap hits in 2022, 2023, and 2024, with 16 million, 18 million, and 20 million savings if cut in those years. Entering his 27-year-old season, he would see a healthy market. Michael Gallup is a free agent in 2022, which could benefit the Lamb’s volume and workload.
Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller are both free agents in 2022. Darnell Mooney has been a popular sleeper candidate, but expect the Bears to address the position in 2022 by taking advantage of the cap space cleared by Andy Dalton being a free agent and cutting Nick along with the cap flexibility provided by the rookie deal of Justin Fields.
Detroit has Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and Geronimo Allison as free agents in 2022. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Quintez Cephus are potential candidates to grow in value in 2022 but look for Detroit to address the position with more capital if neither breaks out significantly in 2021.
Green Bay has Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Devin Funchess as free agents in 2022. With no heir apparent on the roster, the offense could look very different if Aaron Rodgers and Adams are not back with the team.
Minnesota has more guaranteed money due to Adam Theilen and could save 5.8 million dollars cutting him in 2022. His 2020 was largely touchdown-dependent, so his role is a monitor from now on.
Chris Godwin is a 2022 free agent and is playing this season on a franchise tag. With injuries derailing his development last year, Tampa could use the tag to see how he responds to the injury before signing him to an extension.
Robert Woods’s 2022 contract fully guarantees in March 2022. Woods is due a 10 million dollar salary with a 15.7 million dollar cap hit and 3.6 million dollar cap savings in 2022 if cut. Woods would otherwise look safe through 2022 if not for the Rams’ history of taking big dead cap numbers to change their team direction. The most likely outcome is Woods and Kupp are the starting 2022 wide receiving corp, but the situation is worth monitoring. Desean Jackson is a 2022 free agent on a 2021 prove-it deal.