While the Browns welcomed back Josh Gordon for the first time since 2014 last season, Cleveland’s wide receivers generally left much to be desired.
While Gordon, who returned from a three-year suspension midseason, flashed the talent that made him the NFL’s leading receiver back in 2013, the position struggled to consistently produce. As such, the Browns hope Gordon and a trio of 2016 draft picks, including first-rounder Corey Coleman, fare better next season.
Cleveland can also bolster a young room with veteran talent when free agency opens next Wednesday.
Gordon: 5 games, 5 starts; 18 catches, 335 yards, 1 TD
Ricardo Louis: 16 games; 9 starts; 27 catches, 357 yards
Rashard Higgins: 15 games, 4 starts; 27 catches, 312 yards, 2 TDs
Corey Coleman: 9 games, 8 starts; 23 catches, 305 yards, 2 TDs
Kasen Williams: 7 games, 2 starts; 9 catches, 84 yards
Sammie Coates: 6 catches, 70 yards
Hitting the market
Matt Hazel (exclusive rights free agent)
The Browns could add a veteran to the young receivers room.
Top WRs available **(Rankings from NFL.com’s Top 101 free agents)
3. Allen Robinson, Jaguars
Robinson missed nearly all of last season with a knee injury. Before that, he demonstrated ability as a top-shelf wide receiver, catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015 and 73 for 883 yards and six scores in 2016.
5. Sammy Watkins, Rams
Watkins, the fourth overall pick in 2014 NFL Draft, and his relatively young career has been defined by injuries, highs and lows. He had 60 catches, 1,047 yards, and nine touchdowns with the Bills in 2015. Two seasons later, Buffalo traded him to Los Angeles. He still has yet to return to form.
29. Terrelle Pryor, Redskins
Pryor had his best season as a pro with the Browns in 2016, leading the team with 1,007 yards and 77 catches, before leaving in free agency. He struggled in Washington last season, catching 20 passes for 240 yards because of injuries and other factors.
35. Jordan Matthews, Bills
Matthews posted at least 67 catches and 800 yards in his first three seasons with the Eagles before being traded to Buffalo last year.
40. Paul Richardson, Seahawks
In a breakout season, Richardson was arguably Seattle’s best downfield threat. He finished with 44 catches for 703 yards and six touchdowns.
42. Marqise Lee, Jaguars
Without Robinson in the mix, Lee caught 56 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns. He had 851 yards the year before.
48. John Brown, Cardinals
Brown’s best season as a pro came in 2015, when he caught 65 passes for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns. Injuries slowed him down the past two years.
55. Donte Moncrief, Colts
After catching a career-best 64 passes for 733 yards in 2015, Moncrief struggled without Colts quarterback Andrew Luck under center last season.
63. Mike Wallace, Ravens
After stops in Pittsburgh, Miami and Minnesota, Wallace’s career has had something of a rebirth in Baltimore. In two years with the Ravens, he’s caught 124 catches for more than 1,700 yards and eight touchdowns.
66. Taylor Gabriel, Falcons
Gabriel, who spent two seasons with the Browns, caught a career-high six touchdown passes in 2016 under then-Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He wasn’t as productive last season, catching 33 balls for 378 yards.
78. Danny Amendola, Patriots
When Julian Edelman suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, the veteran Amendola stepped up in a big way, catching 61 passes for 659 yards and two touchdowns.
82. Eric Decker, Titans
The veteran Decker caught 54 passes for 563 yards and a touchdown in his first season with the Titans. Before that, he posed three 1,000-yard seasons with the Jets (1) and Broncos (2) in seven seasons.
98. Kendall Wright, Bears
Wright led the Bears with 59 catches for 614 yardsm last season.
What about the draft?
Considering the Browns’ needs at quarterback, among other positions, it’s unlikely they’d use the first or fourth overall picks on a wide receiver. That said, this would appear to be a deep class of receivers, with talented players — Dante Pettis, D.J. Chark, DJ Moore, Simmie Cobbs, Anthony Miller, Michael Gallup, Allen Lazard, to name a few — who should be available on Days 2 and 3.