When it comes to star power in NFL free agency in 2012, there might not be a more stacked position group than wide receiver. But much like the running back class, this year's bumper crop of free agent wide receivers will likely be thinned when some teams exercise their right to place the franchise tag on pending free agents.
DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles has already received the franchise tagm and the long list of other free agent wideouts who could get tagged includes
And then there is
Lesser free agents who might be a fit in the Ravens offense -- speculation alert -- include
Here is a look at five of the top free agent wideouts and where they could wind up in 2012 (to make things interesting, I removed Welker and Wallace, who probably aren't going anywhere right now).
1. Vincent Jackson: Jackson, who has thrived in San Diego's vertical passing offense, received the franchise tag in 2011. There have been mixed reports about whether he will be tagged for a second straight offseason. Of all the free agent receivers, Jackson would be the best fit in Baltimore, but he comes with a huge price tag.
Potential suitors: San Diego Chargers,
2. Dwayne Bowe: A season after hauling in 15 touchdown catches, Bowe's touchdown total dipped to five in 2011. But he remains one of the NFL's better red zone weapons and should cash in if the Chiefs let him walk.
Potential suitors: Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Redskins.
3. Marques Colston: Colston has been a popular target for
Potential suitors: New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins,
4. Steve Johnson: A seventh-round pick in 2008, Johnson had a breakout season in 2010 and backed it up with 1,004 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. The 25-year-old showed flashes of immaturity once in the spotlight, but has come out of nowhere to become one of the better young receivers in the NFL.
Potential suitors: Buffalo Bills,
5. Pierre Garcon: Garcon was one of few bright spots for the Colts in 2011, having caught 70 passes for 947 yards and six touchdowns despite poor quarterback play. Some in Baltimore are clamoring for his teammate, Wayne, but Garcon -- another speculation alert -- would better compliment
Potential suitors: Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Baltimore Ravens.