2024 NFL free agency: Three ways WR landscape has changed with Mike Evans, Tee Higgins now off the market

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NFL free agency can sometimes be a mirage. From far away, the depth of some of the positions in any given year’s free-agent class can appear to be full of top-tier contributors. Come the start of a new league year when teams can actually make moves on the players who make it to the open market, free agency’s offerings can be a lot more slim than anticipated.

That is certainly the case with the 2024 offseason’s wide receiver class. The Cincinnati Bengals’, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Evans and Indianapolis Colts’ Michael Pittman Jr were expected to headline the group, but now two of the three are off the board. 

The Bengals applied the franchise tag on Higgins, who won’t be hitting the open market. Evans agreed to re-sign with Tampa Bay on a two-year, $52 million deal with $35 million guaranteed. What does that mean for receivers left on the market? Let’s take a look.

1. Pittman now atop free-agent class … and might also not hit open market

Michael Pittman Jr. had perfect timing producing his first 100-catch season in 2023 at age 26, and just before becoming a free agent. The 109 catches he totaled were fifth most in the NFL this past season and rank as tied for the fourth most in a single season in Colts history. They’re the most since current Indianapolis wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne went off for 111 back in the 2010 season. 

The massive target (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) is now the free-agent class’ top option, although he may not actually even hit the open market based off what Colts general manager Chris Ballard said at the NFL Scouting Combine last week.

“Here’s what I’ll tell you, we’ve had talks with his agent, who is really good. His agent has been doing it a long time. He’s really good at what he does. We’ll work hard to get a deal done,” Ballard said via transcript. “It’s [the franchise tag] a tool we have. I’m not going to say we’re not going to use it, but I’m not…

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Source link : https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/2024-nfl-free-agency-three-ways-wr-landscape-has-changed-with-mike-evans-tee-higgins-now-off-the-market/

Author : Garrett Podell

Publish date : 2024-03-04 18:31:35

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