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Free Agency Primer 2016: Wide Receiver

Posted Mar 2, 2016

Cardinals well-stocked at position with Fitzgerald, Floyd, John Brown set to return

The Cardinals’ front office is surveying the free agent landscape, hoping to complement a core which went 13-3 last season and advanced to the NFC Championship game. Free agency begins on March 9, and we’ll break down the team’s needs at each position leading up to the signing period.

More free agent analysis: TE I RB I QB

Free agent primer: Wide receiver

Cap numbers of players under contract for 2016: Larry Fitzgerald ($15.9M); Michael Floyd ($7.3M); John Brown ($747,725); Brittan Golden ($600,000); ($577,450); Jaxon Shipley ($465,000)

Scheduled free agents: Jaron Brown (restricted)

Need: Low

Analysis: This is the deepest position on the team, as the Cardinals have three standout wide receivers that get the bulk of the work and promising second-year man J.J. Nelson waiting in the wings. The 2016 season should look much like last year, with Fitzgerald, Floyd and Brown giving quarterback Carson Palmer a trio of solid options down the field. Nelson showed off a nice combination of elite speed and solid hands in his limited work as a rookie, but had too many mental errors to be relied on consistently. If he can master the playbook, his role could increase.

Jaron Brown has been a reserve wide receiver and important special teams piece the past few years and now hits free agency after three years with the Cardinals. Since he is a restricted free agent, the Cardinals have the ability to match any contract offer as long as they tender him. Brown seems likely to return on a low-cost deal. Brittan Golden didn’t see much action on offense but was a key special teams player. He will fight for a roster spot. Jaxon Shipley was on the practice squad all season after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He will try to make the active roster this year.

The Cardinals are set for 2016, so it seems unlikely they sign a wide receiver in free agency. Floyd and Fitzgerald are both heading into the last year of their contracts, but if General Manager Steve Keim wants insurance in case one or both of them aren’t on the team in 2017, it makes more sense for that piece to be added in the draft.

Notable past free agent WR signings by the Cardinals: Ted Ginn (2014); Sean Morey (2007).

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