With the 2021 NFL season in the rearview mirror, the central focus across the league will now shift towards next year with teams trying to construct a winner. That'll really begin in the next few weeks of the offseason when free agency opens up in mid-March. This year, several high-profile pass-catchers are set to hit the open market who could provide an immediate boost to whichever offense they inevitably land in.
Below, you'll find a rundown of the top receivers who are set to hit free agency, along with some possible landing spots and a projected average annual salary to their next deal.
Note: WRs' listed ages are as of September 2022, the start of next season.
Age: 29 | Last team: Packers
Davante Adams is set to see a massive payday that could very well reset the free agent market at his position. The five-time Pro Bowler is arguably the best receiver in the NFL and is coming off back-to-back seasons where he topped over 1,300 yards, had at least 115 receptions, and scored double-digit touchdowns. Whether it's in the middle of the field or the red zone, Adams is as good as they come and a true No. 1 in any respective offense.
His free agency is poised to be a fascinating turn of events, as it could very well be linked to whatever the future has in store for Aaron Rodgers. If the reigning league MVP decides he wants to play somewhere other than the Green Bay Packers, it wouldn't be surprising to see Adams attempt to follow him and continue what is the best QB-WR combo in the league. Of course, Rodgers staying in Green Bay could also push Adams to return as well. Outside of Rodgers, the Raiders could be an intriguing match for Adams, as he would reunite with his college teammate, Derek Carr, under new head coach Josh McDaniels.
2. Chris Godwin
Age: 26 | Last team: Buccaneers
Chris Godwin is in a similar situation to a number of looming free-agent receivers as he is rehabbing an injury. He suffered a torn ACL and sprained MCL back in Week 15, which put an end to his season. Given Godwin's age and production thus far in his career, however, it doesn't seem like his market will be impacted too much by this injury.
Outside of Adams, Godwin should be expected to be a highly sought-after piece on the open market who can enhance whatever offense he lands in. The Super Bowl LV champion can line up as an outside receiver, work over the middle of the field, and operate in the slot to an elite degree. Even before he went down with this knee injury, Godwin already had 98 catches for 1,103 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 14 games played.
Injuries have been a part of Godwin's résumé to this point in his career, but it seems unlikely this latest injury will force him into a one-year prove-it contract. He could ink a lucrative deal after playing the 2021 season on the franchise tag.
Age: 29 | Last team: Bears
Allen Robinson has been starving for viable quarterback play. Between his time with the Jaguars and Bears, the veteran receiver has played alongside subpar quarterbacks, which only makes his success in the league that much more impressive. He has three 1,000-yard seasons under his belt, but the 2021 campaign -- a year in which he played under the franchise tag -- was a down year statistically. Robinson played in 12 games for the Bears and caught just 38 balls for 410 yards. Outside of the 2017 season where Robinson was limited to just one game, those numbers are the lowest of his career.
That said, Chicago was in the bottom third of the league in pass attempts this season, and the combined completion percentage at quarterback was just 61.3%, so he wasn't exactly put in an ideal situation. Robinson has the talent to be a No. 1 receiver in an offense. More than most pass catchers on this list, I would expect Robinson to carefully pick his next landing spot and pair himself with what will likely be the most talented quarterback he's ever played with. One interesting spot for him could be a return to Jacksonville, which could use another weapon for 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence.
Age: 27 | Last team: Chargers
The Chargers have the second-highest amount of cap space heading into free agency, so they could very well retain Williams. After all, he has developed a strong rapport with Justin Herbert, evident by him putting together a career year with 76 receptions for 1,146 receiving yards in 2021. Williams is a receiver who can help an offense stretch the field, and he has averaged 16.8 yards per reception over his last three seasons. His 6-foot-4, 218-pound frame also makes him a strong presence in the red zone. Williams is likely best suited as a low-end No. 1 receiver or an elite No. 2 pass-catcher, similar to how he operated with Kennan Allen in Los Angeles' offense.
Age: 26 | Last team: Cowboys
In Week 17, Gallup suffered a torn ACL, which put an end to his season. Now, the 25-year-old is rehabbing the injury while looking at his market as he gears up for unrestricted free agency. If fully healthy, Gallup's talent and age make him one of the better receivers set to become available. However, it was an injury-plagued year for the Gallup, who also missed seven games at the start of the year due to a calf injury. It's possible Gallup looks for a one-year deal this offseason to prove he's back to full strength -- that would allow him to cash in even more next offseason -- but there will likely be teams willing to give him a long-term deal as well. While a return to Dallas isn't off the table, it'll be curious to see if Gallup looks for a situation where he is a more featured piece of the offense and not stuck behind Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb on the depth chart.