2022 Offseason Questions: Are WRs Becoming ‘Fungible’ Enough To Flatten Market?

Pittsburgh Steelers receivers

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Are wide receivers becoming ‘fungible’ enough that teams will start trending toward drafting replacements rather than paying free agents top dollar?

One of the discussions that is beginning to take place within NFL circles, now that we are in the golden age of the wide receiver, is if there is not a spoil of riches that will ultimately have the effect of leveling off the market.

While wide receivers are still setting contract records this offseason, there are already some organizations who are more reluctant to throw $25 million salaries at a wide receiver, given how consistently strong the position has been represented in draft classes for going on about a decade now.

The way that the game has evolved at the college level has allowed athletes at the wide receiver position not only to flourish, but to step into the next level more ready to contribute right away than ever before. The NFL has adopted that trend, with many teams transforming their offenses to more closely resemble the college game, at least to certain degrees that accentuate their receivers.

This is a long-term discussion, but are we near the point where there is a cap on the wide receiver market? Career longevity discrepancy will prevent the wide receiver position from ever becoming like the running back, but I could see a near future where more teams decide to let their top wide receivers leave in free agency, or even deal them going into their final year, and simply go back to the well, drafting another.

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