Gambo’s 4 free agent WRs the Cardinals are expected to consider
Don’t expect the Arizona Cardinals to spend big at the wide receiver position.
That they weren’t involved in the Antonio Brown trade sweepstakes should be telling enough. Still, they’re aware that they need more talent around veteran Larry Fitzgerald and second-year pro Christian Kirk.
Arizona will seek out bargain wide receivers looking for an opportunity to step into larger roles this upcoming free agency period.
On Monday, negotiations with free agents can begin. And two days later, on March 13, the new league year begins with free agency starting at 1 p.m. MST.
Here are four free agent receiver targets who the Cardinals are expected to take a look at, according to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro.
Breshad Perriman (6-foot-2, 215 pounds)
The 26th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Breshad Perriman missed his rookie year due to a knee injury but produced his best NFL season in 2016, recording 499 yards and three touchdowns over 16 games for the Baltimore Ravens.
He made just 10 catches for 77 yards the next season before the Ravens released him. He spent five days on Washington before being released again, then landed with the Cleveland Browns.
There, Perriman caught 16 balls for 340 yards (21.3 yards per reception) as a deep threat this past season.
At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and with breakaway speed — he ran sub 4.3 40-yard dashes at his 2015 pro day — Perriman hasn’t lived up to his draft status but remains an intriguing combination of size and speed.
He had some negotiations with a return to the Browns in mind, reports Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
“We’ve had numerous conversations with his agent,” Cleveland GM John Dorsey said at the NFL Combine. “I’ve spoken to (Perriman) directly and he’s expressed a willingness to be here in Cleveland. So I think you wait for that process to unfold. I’d love to have that player here.”
Tavon Austin (5-foot-8, 180 pounds)
Another 4.30-type burner in the 40-yard dash, Tavon Austin went in the first round of the 2013 draft (eight overall). Austin was up-and-down in five years with the Rams before his 2018 season with the Cowboys.
Austin has three seasons of more than 400 yards of production (2013, 2015, 2016) but could find a role in a Cardinals offense that is expected to put its slot receivers in space.
Though he once produced 572 all-purpose yards in a college game at West Virginia, Austin hasn’t had the same explosive success as a special teams player in the NFL.
He has, however, been a versatile weapon with 1,293 rushing yards on top of 1,829 receiving yards in his career. That could add value as Arizona hopes to build a more dynamic offense.
Phillip Dorsett (5-foot-10, 192 pounds)
Taken three spots in the draft after Perriman, Phillip Dorsett came into the NFL with elite athleticism and the ability to take the top off or use his acceleration to play inside.
His best year came in his second season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016, when he caught 33 passes for 528 yards and two touchdowns.
Having spent the past two seasons playing as a reserve for the New England Patriots, Dorsett has flashed the ability to play in place of slot receivers like Julian Edelman. Dorsett appears to want a bigger role, something he might not find if he re-signs with the Patriots.
“Obviously, I want to be a key contributor. I want to be a starter. That’s always been my goal,” Dorsett told ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
“Obviously, I want to win. I don’t want to play this game just to play it. I play because I love it, and the relationships. The whole (New England) organization was just amazing. Obviously, everyone has their personal goals and I do want to be a bigger role, that’s just the kind of guy I am. And helping the team win.”
Dorsett made 32 catches for 290 yards and three touchdowns last season for the Patriots.
Rishard Matthews (6-foot, 217 pounds)
The 29-year-old was hardly in the picture last year but in 2017 caught 53 balls for 795 yards as a member of the Tennessee Titans. A year prior, also with the Titans, he had a career season with 65 catches for 945 yards and nine touchdowns.
Arizona reportedly worked Matthews out this past October, but nothing came of it. He split time with Tennessee (three games) and the New York Jets (five games), making five combined receptions.