It didn’t take long for receiver Andre Roberts to generate interest after being released by the Redskins, as he took a visit with the Bills just two days after being cut loose by Washington. Roberts, whom PFR ranked as the fifth-best offensive free agent left on the board, has two more meetings planned with unknown clubs, and an additional five or six clubs are also thought to be eyeing Roberts, according to the latest reports.
Roberts, who turned 28 in January, is probably best served as a slot receiver, though he can also play on the outside if needed. Last season, Roberts appeared in nine games (zero starts) and caught a career-low 11 passes for 135 yards, but he does have a history of production in the not-so-distant future. Roberts first made a name for himself in 2012 when he stepped out of Larry Fitzgerald‘s shadow in Arizona to haul in 64 catches for 759 yards and five touchdowns.
Let’s take a look around the league and find some potential fits for Roberts…
- Atlanta Falcons — The Falcons spent a decent chunk of change on the wide receiver position this offseason, signing former Bengal Mohamed Sanu to a five-year, $32.5MM deal that included $14MM guaranteed. But Atlanta could certainly use one more veteran receiver, especially one who is relatively versatile like Roberts. Sanu is capable of playing the slot or outside, so offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan could use both he and Roberts in several different positions. With Devin Hester on the mend, Roberts would act as insurance in case second-year pass-catcher Justin Hardy isn’t ready.
- Buffalo Bills — As noted above, the Bills clearly have legitimate interest in Roberts, as they were the first team to have him in for a visit. Joe Buscaglia of WBKW looked at various position battles in Buffalo earlier tonight, and noted that Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods are the only real locks at receiver. The rest of the Bills’ receiving group is made up of low-level options or young players with no NFL production, such as Greg Salas, Leonard Hankerson, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Little, and Kolby Listenbee. Roberts would fit nicely in the slot for Buffalo, and could help outside if Watkins’ foot injury becomes more serious.
- Cincinnati Bengals — On paper, the Bengals’ receiving corps looks a lot better than it did after they lost Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones earlier this offseason. Free agent signee Brandon LaFell and rookie Tyler Boyd are set to start in three-wide sets opposite A.J. Green, while Brandon Tate and James Wright are penciled in as the club’s depth options. Cincinnati is well-known to prefer veterans in key roles over young players, however, so depending on how the Bengals feel about Boyd’s immediate readiness, Roberts could make some sense.
- Denver Broncos — Jordan Norwood was a known favorite of Peyton Manning last year, and was able to produce 22 receptions in 11 games. Roberts would be an improvement in the slot, and he’s actually younger (by almost two years) than Norwood. Denver is obviously set with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside, but adding Roberts could be a boon to an offense that figures to be lead by one of Mark Sanchez or Paxton Lynch.
- Detroit Lions — Even after signing Marvin Jones to a five-year, $40MM deal in March, the Lions could still use more help at receiver following the retirement of Calvin Johnson. On the inside, two free agent signees — Jeremy Kerley and Andre Caldwell — figure to compete for playing time, but Roberts looks to be a superior option to either of them. Although touches could be hard to come by in Detroit, especially if tight end Eric Ebron sees more targets, Roberts would make for a solid No. 3 in the Motor City.
- Oakland Raiders — The Raiders’ offense soared in 2015, as sophomore quarterback Derek Carr broke out, teaming with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to form a fearsome unit. And while Oakland failed to add legitimate competition for running back Latavius Murray this offseason, it could still stand to improve on Seth Roberts, who is projected to see the majority time of the slot. The Raiders also re-signed pass-catcher Andre Holmes this spring, but adding in another veteran like Roberts could be a nice way to fill out an already daunting offense.
- San Francisco 49ers — The 49ers have the second-most cap space in the league at the moment, so we know that they could afford Roberts if they’re interested. And they should be, if they have any hopes of sniffing a .500 record in 2016. San Francisco’s depth chart behind Torrey Smith is extremely thin, with DeAndre Smelter, Quinton Patton, Jerome Simpson, Bruce Ellington, and rookie Aaron Burbridge filling in the gaps. The 49ers aren’t likely to contend next year, so adding a complementary receiver may seem like an unnecessary move, but Roberts would help San Francisco creep towards respectability.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Tampa is hoping that second-year receiver Kenny Bell can serve as its No. 3 option behind Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, as Jenna Laine reported last week (Twitter link). But is new head coach Dirk Koetter ready to rely on an unproven asset as his club tries to improve upon its 2015 DVOA ranking of 17th? Veteran Louis Murphy is another incumbent option for the Buccaneers, but Roberts could help Tampa Bay take the next step as it tries to challenge for a playoff berth.
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