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Free Agent Primer 2021: Wide Receiver

Larry Fitzgerald's decision could have domino effect on position

WR Larry Fitzgerald has yet to say if he will return to play in 2021.
WR Larry Fitzgerald has yet to say if he will return to play in 2021.

The Cardinals cannonballed into free agency, signing J.J. Watt to a two-year deal. The work isn't done, as GM Steve Keim must fill other holes on the roster this offseason. The new league year begins on Wednesday, March 17, with the legal tampering period opening on Monday, March 15. We will break down each position group as free agency draws near.

Free agent primer: Wide receiver

Other free agent primers: CB I LB I TE I DL I RB I S I OL I ST I QB

Cap hit of players under contract for 2021 (via DeAndre Hopkins ($12.5 million); Christian Kirk ($2.97 million); Andy Isabella ($1.26 million); KeeSean Johnson ($902,328); Rico Gafford ($850,000); Isaac Whitney ($780,000); Krishawn Hogan ($780,000); A.J. Richardson ($660,000); JoJo Ward ($660,000).

Scheduled free agents: Larry Fitzgerald; Trent Sherfield (restricted).

Need: Medium

Free Agent Tracker 2021 Promo Image New

The NFL free agency period starts on March 17. Visit our free agent tracker page to follow all the movement.

Analysis: The focus of this position group remains on Larry Fitzgerald, who has yet to announce whether he will play another season in 2021. If Fitzgerald returns, the group could look pretty similar to last year, as the Cardinals would have their top five receivers from 2020 under contract.

If Fitzgerald retires, it would leave a void in the starting lineup. The Cardinals could look for a slot receiver and keep Christian Kirk on the outside, or move Kirk to the slot and search for a No. 2 wide receiver option to complement DeAndre Hopkins.

There are some prominent names on the list of impending free agent wideouts, including Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Corey Davis, Will Fuller and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Golden Tate was released by the Giants on Wednesday, Alshon Jeffery is expected to be released by the Eagles and other wideouts could also come available due to the shrinking salary cap.

The Cardinals still have third-year receivers Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson on the roster, but they have yet to blossom as hoped. They will likely need to have stellar offseasons to prove they deserve consistent roles on offense. Trent Sherfield is a restricted free agent, though his greatest impact has been felt on special teams, not at receiver. It remains to be seen if the Cardinals will give him a tender offer.

Hopkins was the only Cardinals receiver to surpass 650 receiving yards in 2020, so this seems like a position that could be upgraded this offseason, whether through free agency or the draft.

Notable past free agent wide receiver signings: Brice Butler (2018); Ted Ginn (2014); Sean Morey (2007).