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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Cards Free Agency Look: Wide receiver

By Josh Weinfuss

If the Arizona Cardinals try to lure a free-agent wide receiver to the desert this offseason, showing them a tape of their 2013 offense may not be the way to get them there.

Under coach Bruce Arians, the roles of the receivers are clearly defined: The first two are set for at least 2014 with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. The third, whoever it may be, doesn't play a significant role in the offense. That's a large reason why receiver Andre Roberts isn't expected to be re-signed by Arizona by time free agency starts. He earned more than a third receiver should have, especially one who played one-third fewer snaps than Fitzgerald and 40 percent fewer than Floyd did in 2013.

So trying to replace Roberts with a free agent may be easier said than done.

The Cardinals have a few options already on their roster with Jaron Brown, Teddy Williams and Brittan Golden. All are fast and cheap compared to who'll hit the market March 11 in what's widely considered one of the deepest free agency classes of receivers in recent memory.

But the Cardinals have strict criteria for that third receiver and the top priority is speed. Arians wants a receiver who can take the top off the defense and stretch the field, but he'll have to come for the right price. Last season, Roberts made $1.3 million in 2013, a price tag that's too high for someone who played just 576 snaps.

Of those on the roster, Brown is the most likely successor, having earned $414,000 in 2013 while playing 149 snaps. He caught 11 passes for 140 yards.

The Cardinals won't want to spend more than necessary on a third receiver, eliminating most options in free agency. Among the best receivers who could fit into the Cardinals offense for the right price are Carolina's Ted Ginn, Tampa Bay's Tiquan Underwood, Philadelphia's Riley Cooper and New Orleans' Robert Meachem. Only Ginn made more than $1 million last year and he would give the Cardinals a dynamic return option on kickoffs and a suitable backup on punt returns while Tyrann Mathieu continues his recovery.

One drawing point for a potential receiver, however, is that they could soon be the Cards' No. 2 receiver if Fitzgerald doesn't return in 2015 because of his contract.

Two other names that Arizona could get for the right price, who have solid speed are Detroit's Kevin Ogletree and Denver's Andre Caldwell.