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NFL’s top 5 free agent wide receivers in 2023, ranked

It’s slim pickings for teams who need a WR this year.

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I’ve got some bad news if you were hoping for wide receiver relief for your team in free agency. The 2023 class of available players is weak beyond all belief as teams have rushed to sure-up the position before risking players hitting free agency and getting colossal offers.

The 2022 class was largely wrecked by the Jaguars who signed Christian Kirk to a 4 year, $72 million deal — which precipitated Davante Adams getting a 5 year, $140 million contract. The money for receivers went wild last year, and as a result teams hurried to lock up their players so they didn’t need to risk their future cap solvency.

It’s not like the players here are terrible, but this is unquestionably a weak class.

No. 1: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kansas City Chiefs

A reliable pickup for the Chiefs last season, the fact JuJu is the No. 1 receiver in the class this year shows how barren things are. To be fair, Smith-Schuster did work with Patrick Mahomes in KC, but it’s important to understand the player he is.

Smith-Schuster is a high-level No. 2 receiver, or a very low-tier top receiver on a team lacking talent at the position. He can’t be the focal point of an offense, as we saw last year when he was often the second option after Travis Kelce.

At 26-years-old he’s still young enough to warrant a contract, just likely not one that assumes he’ll magically become the 1,400 threat he was back in Kansas City in 2018.

No. 2: Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots

Primarily a slot receiver, Meyers has had some success out the outside as well, making him a little more well rounded that first appearances would show. He was an amazing undrafted free agent find by the Pats in 2019, and the team will likely attempt to keep him around if the price is right.

That part is iffy, because a case can be made that Meyers is the best WR in this weak free agent class, and has more room for growth moving forward. His good-sized frame and willingness to make catches in traffic make him a really good option for a team looking for a high-level No. 2 receiver.

No. 3: Odell Beckham Jr, FA

It’s Oell Beckham Jr. I don’t really know what else to say here. Even at 30-years-old he still makes the Top 5 list based on past ability, and the flashes he showed with the Rams during their Super Bowl year.

OBJ is a mid-tier 2nd option, or an elite third receiver for a team confident they can withstand any drama he brings with him. There’s some baggage here, and that could be a stumbling block for any team curious about signing him.

No. 4: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

I don’t know if any receiver in the league has had a more precipitous fall over the last three years than Michael Thomas. Part of that can be chalked up to Drew Brees’ retirement and gripes with the Saints, but at this point he’s more or less a leap of faith signing.

Thomas has only played in 10 games since finishing with over 1,700 receiving yards in 2019. Injuries have been piling up, as has his unhappiness, but when he’s been on the field there’s been flashes that he’s still an elite receiver.

A team could benefit greatly from Thomas, if he can be healthy, but that’s a coin toss. He’s best suited as a depth option on an already established team, rather than going to a mid-level organization hoping he can be a top target.

No. 5: Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers

The only target left for Aaron Rodgers, it’s unclear whether Lazard could (or would) return to Green Bay. A receiver in a tight end’s body, Lazard is a mid-level possession receiver who can get separation on occasion and is a plus-level blocker on the outside, perfect for a team that likes to stretch the edges with YAC.

Lazard could attract some attention as a value upgrade, especially to a team like the Chiefs who are likely losing Smith-Schuster. Lazard can do several of the things Travis Kelce does in Kansas City, making this an intriguing prospect.