With Carson Palmer passing for over 4200 yards in 2013 and 26 touchdowns, it meant that the receivers did have some production in 2013. Let's look back at the season and how the group did.
The players and what they did
To start, there were the big two -- Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Floyd cracked 1000 yards on the season (1041) on 65 receptions and five scores. Fitzgerald almost got to 1000 yards, ending with 954, but hauled in 82 passes and scored 10 touchdowns. It was not quite the bounceback year Fitz had hoped, but it still landed him a Pro Bowl berth.
Fitz struggled early on to be an impact player. He had hamstring issues and looked lost sometimes early on playing multiple positions. He only had two games of 100 yards receiving or more -- both against the 49ers, but his Week 17 play showed he could be dominant again.
Floyd had a three-game stretch in which he showed he was the number one wideout talent the team drafted in the first round. He was not the red zone target that Fitz was, but he had some big, clutch receptions.
After these two players, the production drops substantially.
Andre Roberts busted out of the gate with 97 yards in Week 1, but only twice even got close to that the rest of the season. He finished with 43 catches for 471 yards and two touchdowns. His role was greatly diminished by the utililzation of two tight ends and some mental errors and inconsistency.
But after Roberts, the production plummets.
Andre Ellington, mainly a running back, played a lot of receiver as well and will continue to get time at the position.
The contract situations:
There is one big looming question this offseason -- what will the team do with Larry Fitzgerald's contract? He has an $18 million hit on the salary cap in 2014, which the team will try to reduce. He is signed through 2018.
Floyd still has two years left on his rookie deal.
Roberts is an unrestricted free agent.
Jaron Brown, Javone Lawson (spent the season on injured reserve), LaRon Byrd (also in IR all year), Teddy Williams and Brittan Golden are all under contract for least one more season on minimal deals.
Dan Buckner, who was on the practice squad, signed a future contract for 2014.
There is really only one lock on the roster for 2014 and that is Floyd. Fitz is as close to a lock as there is, but the contract thing casts at least the smallest amount of doubt. Almost everyone you talk to expects him back, making the same salary, but with some of the money turned into a bonus that can have the cap hit spread out more.
Roberts will likely be gone. As the guy who replaced Steve Breaston, he will leave in the same fashion.
The remaining guys are the "undrafteds".
Williams is coming off of Achilles surgery, but has potential, especially on special teams. Golden showed flashes in his four receptions.
What Bruce Arians still has not established is his burner receiver. Golden could be it, but the team won't count on him. Pretty much all the guys beyond Fitz and Floyd would be considered end of the roster guys that can be "churned," as general manager Steve Keim likes to say.
Fitz, Floyd and Ellington will figure prominently at receiver in 2014. After that is unknown. The team will want to develop more depth. That could be the young guys they have, that could be something the team addresses in free agency and it certainly could be a target in the draft.
However, with Arians being a fan of using the tight end, you probably won't see huge production, or even average production, from more than three receivers. The fourth, fifth and maybe sixth that may land on the rosters will have to be impactful in limited time, like a burner guy who can stretch the defense like Golden did a couple of times and like Williams did for a game before he got hurt.
Whether it is the guys at the back end of the depth chart, the draft or free agency (although if going that route, it will not likely be big name or even medium name players), who would you like to see in a Cardinals uniform in 2014?
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