This year's wide receiver free agent class wasn't considered strong, but one player definitely stood out at the top of the pack: Marvin Jones. The 26-year-old has been on the cusp of breaking out with the Cincinnati Bengals over the past couple of seasons, and though he never reached 1,000-yard receiving mark, he showed enough to earn top dollar on the open market.
Jones signed a five-year, $40 million deal with the Detroit Lions, who have been a passing-oriented team ever since they drafted Matthew Stafford in 2009. Of course, they have also had Calvin Johnson to throw it to, and now that he is retired, Jones is expected to come in and be the No. 1 receiver.
While he himself has said that it's not his goal to replace "Megatron," Jones is unquestionably the No. 1 receiver in Detroit ahead of Golden Tate. And he should flourish in the role, even if he doesn't rise to the top of the league like Johnson did. He has the skill set needed to grow as a receiver and at his age, he has plenty of football ahead of him.
Even though it wasn't a star-studded group, several wide receivers who became available this offseason have landed in ideal situations. Below, we'll take a look at three other receivers who could break out with their new teams:
Bill Belichick as the evil mastermind who always gets the best of every deal his team makes might be a little overplayed, but when the Patriots pay attention to a little-known or unheralded player, they usually strike gold. Last week, the Pats gave Chris Hogan, an undrafted player out of Monmouth, a three-year contract worth $12 million with an upfront cap hit of $5.5 million.
That's quite a bit to pay for a guy who has played limited snaps in three seasons with the Bills, who declined to match the offer sheet. Hogan's new paycheck is enough money that he can be expected to be a starter or at least the third receiver on the field. With Tom Brady placing the football better than any quarterback in the league, Hogan could be in line for a huge uptick in receptions, yards and touchdowns.
Last season, Hogan caught 36 of the 59 passes thrown his way for 450 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Patriots have made a lot out of a little with their receivers in recent years, with injuries to Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson. They also released Brandon LaFell recently, and Hogan should slot nicely into that group.
Mohamed Sanu (Cincinnati Bengals to Atlanta Falcons)
While Sanu leaves a Bengals team that has strove for balance between its passing and running game, he joins a Falcons team that is trying to recapture the magic that was the pairing of Roddy White and Julio Jones before White slowed down with age and injury. Sanu is a similar type of receiver, but he never quite reached his potential with the Bengals.
A third-round pick in 2012, Sanu has shown flashes of high-level play. He caught 56 passes for 790 yards and five touchdowns when the Bengals were dealing with injuries in 2014, but had just 394 yards and no touchdowns last season. Still, the Falcons gave him a big deal, and are paying him like they expect a lot of production opposite Jones.
The Falcons have Matt Ryan at quarterback, who is comparable to Andy Dalton with the Bengals. Both quarterbacks have struggled in the postseason and both can air it out when needed. In 16 games, Ryan attempted 614 passes all of last season and finished with 4,591 passing yards. Dalton, playing in 13 games, threw just 386 passes for 3,250 yards.
Benjamin was a fourth-round pick by the Browns in 2012 and didn't accomplish much in his first three seasons with the team. But he was given a much bigger workload last season, seeing his targets rise from 46 to 124. Accordingly, his receptions went from 18 to 68, his yardage from 314 to 966 and his touchdowns from three to five. He broke out and he looked like a dangerous weapon in the right offense.
The Chargers continue to try to shuffle the deck to field a competent team while they still have Philip Rivers at quarterback. Rivers was nothing short of great for much of last season, but the Chargers as a whole lagged behind. Benjamin will be called on to be an immediate starter for the team and a weapon for Rivers. If Benjamin's production improved last year with Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis at quarterback, then all indications are that he will thrive with Rivers and could be among the league leaders in receiving next season.
Benjamin will likely start opposite Keenan Allen, who was well on his way to being one of, if not the top receiver in the league in 2015 before an injury forced him out for the season. Allen had 725 yards in just eight games, and with Benjamin opposite him and Rivers dealing, the Chargers could be dangerous again in 2016.