It's become evident by now that generally speaking, fans will never consider the 2013 Seattle Seahawks receivers to be a group that was especially talented. Without a 1,000-yard receiver, without Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, the group is just seen mostly as two guys: Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate.
Neither of those guys cracked 900 yards, neither of them were likely to help you win a fantasy league, so neither are seen as being great talents. At least not to people who didn't watch all of the Seahawks games, like you and I probably did.
Tate is one of the shiftiest, hardest-to-tackle players in the NFL. I imagine that in the Detroit Lions offense, if healthy, he will get over 80 catches and over 1,000 yards, and do so consistently.
Baldwin can make highlight grabs, and despite playing in the Seattle offense and not being drafted in 2011, he has more career yards than Greg Little, Cecil Shorts, Jeremy Kerley, Randall Cobb, and Jordan Cameron.
Both Tate and Baldwin are as sure-handed as you could find as any duo in the league last year. They combined for just a handful of drops (ProFootballFocus says it was five total) and were able to make plays at the point of reception and after the catch. PFF gave them an identical grade for last season, and having those two as depth came in really handy when Harvin missed almost the whole season and Rice underperformed early in the year before tearing his ACL. Additionally, Jermaine Kearse jumped from fifth on the depth chart to third, and pulled that off pretty spectacularly.
But Tate is gone now and hasn't been replaced, so that depth is called into question. Most assume that the Seahawks will draft a receiver in the first or second round, but it's foolish to assume anything from Pete Carroll and John Schneider. We also can't ignore that their track record with drafting receivers is... questionable.
Kris Durham and Chris Harper are now on the depth charts of other teams. Baldwin was a good get after the fact, but they were also among the teams not willing to even spend a seventh round pick on him. Tate took his time becoming a reliable every-week option. So even if Seattle does spend one of their first two picks on a receiver, we shouldn't just plug him in for 60 catches and 900 yards next season "just because."
There's a serious concern with the Seahawks receiving corps right now. The good news is that it's not necessarily any less concerning then their NFC West brethren.
In the best case scenario, Seattle has one of the top five receivers in the NFL with Harvin and he plays the entire season, playoffs, and wins Super Bowl MVP. Baldwin has a big breakout season. Kearse settles into a full-time role, gaining five or six hundred yards. And some rookie flashes moments of brilliance, and is also taller than 6'1. I know people are excited about the prospects of Chris Matthews, but let's not go telling tales out of school; Matthews has done nothing yet. You don't bounce around and end up in the CFL for no reason.
I'm confident that no matter what, the Seahawks will figure it out. Hell, they just did. Replacing Tate won't be easy, unless Harvin stays healthy and in that case it's actually incredibly easy.
What I've done is grouped together the current wide receiver units for every team in the NFL. Is it better to have high-end talent or depth? I guess that's just a matter of opinion. The Broncos and 49ers have high-end talent and both made it deep into the playoffs. The Patriots and Seahawks have depth, and both made it deep into the playoffs.
The following groups are, just like, my opinions, man.
Teams with a great 1-2:
Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin, Kassim Osgood, Devon Wylie
Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn Jr, Brittan Golden
Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Drew Davis
Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Chris Harper, Myles White
DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Santana Moss, Andre Roberts, David Gettis
Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders, Andre Caldwell, Jordan Norwood
T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne, Griff Whalen, LaVon Brazill, Da'Rick Rogers
Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey
By signing Jackson, the Redskins immediately have the potential to have the most complete receiver unit in the NFL. If they all stay healthy and out of trouble (and I assume cut Moss), then Jackson, Garcon, Roberts, Hankerson, and Robinson is a pretty damn good unit.
In the case of the Niners, Bears, Texans, Packers, and really the Cardinals, things get pretty darn scarce after the top two. As we saw with the Falcons last year, things can go "south" pretty quick when someone (or some two) gets injured. And how often do receivers get injured?
Off the top of my head, Crabtree, Cobb, Harvin, Jones, White, Jeremy Maclin, Wayne all missed significant amounts of time. Remember that when you're looking over these depth charts: Some of these players will miss the majority of the season. That's unavoidable. You'll be thinking, "Oh the Texans have Johnson and Hopkins, so they aren't all bad!" but then quickly Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey are starting.
It happens. A lot.
Teams that might have a great 1-2:
Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin (RFA), Jermaine Kearse, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates, Chris Matthews, Ricardo Lockette
Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Joe Morgan, Nick Toon, Andy Tanner
Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree
Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris
Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal
Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Deonte Thompson, Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette
Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, Armon Binns, Kevin Cone
I'm actually not a big fan of Wallace, Hartline, but they are a better 1-2 than just about half of the rest of the league. However, it doesn't match up to what the Dolphins pay their receivers: $29 million total for 2014. That's the most that any team in the NFL is paying their receivers.
The best depth here probably belongs to the Lions or Chargers. Seattle's depth is okay, but remember that you know those names more well because you're a Seahawks fan. Bates, Arceto Clark, Lockette, Matthews, Walters. Sorry, but these are not proven receivers. Sure, that was Baldwin, Kearse at one point, but we don't know who of them, if any, will pan out. So the depth can't be compared to that of Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal. We've seen something from them before.
It also goes to show that teams are a lot more shallow at receiver than you think.
Teams with just a 1:
Vincent Jackson, Louis Murphy, Skye Dawson, Lavelle Hawkins, Chris Owusu, Tommy Streeter
Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, Rueben Randle, Trindon Holliday, Preston Parker, Jerrel Jernigan
Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon (Suspended), Ace Sanders, Stephen Williams, Tandon Doss, Stephen Burton
A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate, Ryan Whalen, Dane Sanzenbacher (RFA)
Josh Gordon, Nate Burleson, Andrew Hawkins, Greg Little, Travis Benjamin
Antonio Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Lance Moore, Markus Wheaton, Danny Coale
Teams that might not belong in this group are Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, but I think they're all pretty awful at receiver outside of their top threat. If Blackmon wasn't on the naughty list, I'd definitely upgrade Jacksonville to the next group up.
Did you realize that Tampa Bay was that shitty at receiver?
Teams that appear to have depth, but may lack top-end talent:
Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Austin Pettis
Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright
Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Jacoby Ford, David Nelson, Greg Salas, Clyde Gates
Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, Matt Slater
Stevie Johnson, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham, Chris Hogan, Ramses Barden
These teams are tougher to peg. I like players like Austin, Patterson, Amendola. I think that the Jets are a lot deeper and more talented than anyone imagined, and even the Bills have a lot of potential there.
The Rams actually have the deepest group of receivers in the division (yes, I said it!) but I'd be wary of betting money than any of them will go over 600 yards next year. There's still apparent problems on that offense.
Teams that lack many exciting options:
Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Marc Mariani
Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, AJ Jenkins, Junior Hemingway
James Jones, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Juron Criner, Brice Butler
Maclin missed the whole year, Cooper wasn't all that good in my opinion. Wright had one of the least productive 1,000-yard seasons in history. The Chiefs may end up having the worst receiving corps in the league and they don't have their second round pick, so I would definitely be surprised if they didn't draft a receiver in the first round. The Raiders may actually have a good group of receivers (whereas KC definitely doesn't) but it's Oakland so how can I trust that?
And finally, the Panthers:
Just signed Jason Avant to be their number two! Behind Jerricho freaking Cotchery!
So Seattle has a definite need for a new receiver, and likely will draft one early. But in comparison to every other team, it's honestly not that bad. Nobody else has a "Percy Harvin" and if healthy, the Seahawks have one of the best weapons in the league. Baldwin and Kearse aren't a bad 2-3, though I definitely think they'll need a bigger option for the red zone. Honestly, Luke Willson could end up being that guy, and maybe even lineup outside of the tackles more often in 2014.
Currently available free agents include: Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Miles Austin, Damian Williams, Danario Alexander, Robert Meachem, Earl Bennett, Austin Collie, Josh Morgan, Dezmon Briscoe, Davone Bess, Josh Cribbs. They'll probably sign one of those guys, likely Rice, but Carroll does also have a connection to Williams at USC.
Once they draft a guy and sign a guy, the depth and talent probably won't be too worrisome at all.
Unfortunately that still won't change the perception of what fans think of Seattle's 2013 group of receivers. Oh well... Scoreboard, motherf#$@ers!