With the New Orleans Saints trying to decide whether or not to trade young Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks, the Saints will have have to replace Cooks’ 1,173 receiving yards and 8 receiving TDs in 2017. If they look to sign a replacement Wide Receiver in free agency, here are five names they could look at.
The majority of Brandin Cooks’ 1,173 yards came on “big plays.” He averaged 15.0 yards per reception and was QB Drew Brees’ favorite deep threat on the offense. If you’re going to replace a deep threat, why not look at another? DeSean Jackson finished 2016 with over 1,000 receiving yards and actually lead the league averaging 17.9 yards per reception.
Like Cooks, DeSean also has experience returning punts, although (also like Cooks), didn’t really see any action on Special Teams in 2016. Cooks ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine, so his burner speed is without question. DeSean, seven years Brandin’s senior, was no slouch himself at the combine, running a 4.35. Spotrac projects a 2-year $15M (averaging approx. $7.5 million per year) salary in free agency, so he wouldn’t come cheap.
Ted Ginn Jr.
Here’s a deep threat who comes in a little cheaper.
Spotrac projects a one year, $4 million dollar deal for Ted Ginn Jr. in free agency, so roughly half the cost of DeSean Jackson. Ginn, one year older than DeSean, has never truly been a featured part of the Carolina Panthers offense, but Saints fans have seen his ability to make big plays. Ginn averaged 13.9 yards per reception last year, finishing the season with four TDs. In his prime, Ginn was an absolute burner, running a 4.28 at the combine. Even getting longer in the tooth, Ginn is still an explosive deep threat that would add another dimension to the Saints offense on a one-year deal. It’s also important to note that even as late as 2016, Ginn was used in both kickoff returns and punt returns on Special Teams, so another area of need would be addressed.
But what if the Saints don’t want to sign an aging veteran and would prefer to lock down a young up-and-comer?
The former standout college QB, Pryor really came into his own as a Wide Receiver in 2016. Pryor used his 6’6 frame and 4.38 speed to finish the season with over 1,000 receiving yards and five total TDs, playing in a horrible Cleveland Browns offense. He has similar speed to Brandin but adds an extra 8 inches in height. While Pryor is a five year veteran in the NFL, he’s really only been a receiver for one year. This helps keep his cost down slightly, with Spotrac projecting a 4-year $35 million dollar deal.
If the Saints want to really take a cheap flier on potential, Patterson is still that guy.
Unlike Pryor, Patterson has experience as a return man in the NFL, so the need on Special Teams is also addressed. He also has elite speed with a 4.33 40 time at the combine, but probably comes cheapest on this list at close to the veterans’ minimum. Patterson has been used only sparingly in his career as a Wide Receiver, with 2016 being no exception. “CPatt” finished with only 453 receiving yards but had Sam Bradford as his QB and an offense in Minnesota never focusing on the passing game. there’s a chance CPatt could thrive in a New Orleans offense. There’s also a chance he’s a complete bust.
Well end this list with a familiar face, and the least likely of all possible scenarios.
Regardless of Spotrac projecting a four-year $26 million dollar deal for Stills, there are reports that Stills is looking for an average salary north of $10 million per year. For that price, and for the fact that the Saints traded him to the Dolphins for rumored character issues, the likelihood of a Stills reunion is not great.
But Stills did finish with a career best 9 touchdowns in 2016 (one more than Brandin Cooks), and in his final year with the Saints in 2014, he played in 15 games totaling 931 yards. In his four year career, Stills has never finished with an average yards per reception rate under 16 (as high as 20 in 2013) and has top-end speed just like everyone else on this list.