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Slow WR market could give Washington a unique opportunity

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It's quite hard to provide in-depth analysis just two days into free agency, as signings and movements remain incredibly fluid. Things can change quick. 

That said, some things are becoming obvious, both as it relates to the Washington Football Team and around the league. 

Bill Belichick has led a spending spree in New England, but elsewhere around the NFL, the effects of a decreased salary cap and widespread usage of the franchise tag have kept early free agent signings subdued. 

And speaking with a number of sources both on the team side and the player side, it's expected that in the coming days a flurry of one-year deals will get signed. Especially later in the week.

The basic message from multiple agents is that players know that while the 2021 salary cap is down, the 2022 cap should pop, probably more than 20 percent, and plenty of players will bet on themselves this year rather than lock into a long-term deal before the cash starts rolling next year. 

For informed fans, that isn't news. 

Specifically for Washington, however, there is no hurry to make moves in free agency. 

Even after reportedly signing Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, the Football Team expects to be active going forward in free agency, but remember that any money not spent this year will roll over to 2022. That could give the team an advantage when the cap jumps up and players like Daron Payne and Terry McLaurin could be looking for contract extensions. 

 

That does not mean, however, Washington is not still looking for help at wide receiver. 

The wideout market has moved slow, and speaking with sources across the league, there are a few factors. Even when stud players like Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin got hit with the franchise tag before free agency opened, the 2021 free agent crop of WRs remained strong. 

Combine a deep free agent class with an impressive rookie crop of receivers, and the supply begins to outpace demand. Now add on top the decreased salary cap and the subsequent dearth of teams looking to spend, and a depressed market emerges. 

Going one step further, three prominent free agent receivers in Kenny Golladay, Curtis Samuel and Will Fuller are represented by the same agency. Making that more complicated, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported earlier this month that Golladay turned down a lucrative contract extension from Detroit last season that could have paid around $18 million-per-year. 

Now a free agent, it looks like Golladay might not get to the same annual salary that was reportedly offered last fall. That could create a chain of events where movement in the receiver market is waiting on Golladay to find a home, and in turn, set a market price. 

For Washington, that might mean opportunity. 

Samuel is a target for the Burgundy and Gold, certainly, and he's a young player with a bright future. 

Fitzpatrick will give his wideouts opportunities down the field, and Samuel knows both the Washington offensive system and fellow wide receiver Terry McLaurin. Rivera drafted Samuel in Carolina, he played in Scott Turner's offensive system, and McLaurin was a college teammate at Ohio State.

Anything can still happen, but the overwhelming message coming from Ashburn is that the team is confident in their direction and patient approach thus far.

Remember, too, that Washington thrived in free agency last year without making big-money moves. The team believes they can excel in a similar fashion this year, especially with the flood of available talent already on the market and with more expected to come. 

Fans want to win free agency. It's fun to think about new players in new roles, and Washington has cash to spend. 

At this point, Washington has signed a new QB in Fitzpatrick, which is a big deal. And they used the franchise tag on Brandon Scherff. Those are notable moves. 

That doesn't mean more are coming, but it doesn't mean they aren't either. There's lots of time left, and Washington's well positioned.