May 07, 2009
I haven't heard any NFL personnel people outright say, "No, we don't place a high premium on wide receivers anymore," but if you look around at what's happening around the league, it seems like that's the case.
Take Braylon Edwards(notes), for example. It seems like he's been on the trade market for about 17 years now. This is a guy who, just one year ago, was on the verge of becoming one of the game's elite receivers. Yeah, he had a case of the dropsies in '08, but enough to drop his value to the point where no one would want him? To the point where a team like the Giants would say, "No thanks, we'll take our chances with a rookie instead"? The Giants, more than anyone, should understand the value of a stud receiver.
Take Anquan Boldin(notes) for another example. He's been spectacularly productive throughout his career, and the Cardinals claim they can't get a satisfactory offer for him. Maybe their asking price is a little high, but shouldn't Anquan be a pretty popular target out there? There are zero teams in the league with two better receivers than Anquan Boldin, and there aren't a whole lot with one better receiver.
I'll give you Michael Crabtree(notes) as an example, too. A lot of people had him graded as the best player available in the draft, certainly in the top five, and then he slipped all the way down to 10th on draft day. At least three teams who have a major need at receiver passed on him (and no, the Raiders don't count, because their decisions aren't made by someone who actually studies NFL personnel, but instead by a guy who has a bizarre fascination with people who can run really fast).
Trend, or just a coincidence?
There's certainly a case to be made for coincidence. There are legitimate reasons for Edwards and Boldin not being moved, and for Crabtree falling in the draft. Edwards could be moved any day now, for all I know. I think the Cardinals intend to hang onto Boldin, and will exhaust every option to make that happen before they trade him. Maybe the prices the Browns and Cardinals are asking are exorbitant. And as far as Crabtree goes, you can always find reasons why a team drafted one guy over another.
Take all three of them together, though, and I don't know. It could point to a leaguewide trend where premier receivers just aren't as valued as they used to be. What might be causing this? Couldn't tell you. Everyone just saw the Cardinals rip through the playoffs on the back of Larry Fitzgerald(notes), and the Steelers win it because of Santonio Holmes's(notes) superhuman effort in the Super Bowl.
To me, at this point in NFL history, it would make more sense to be stockpiling quality receivers, instead of shunning them. And that makes it even more bizarre to me why no one's being terribly aggressive in making a move at Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin.
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