PHOENIX -- The Philadelphia Eagles find themselves on the doorstep of another Super Bowl title, largely due to making one of the biggest trades last offseason. During the NFL Draft, they shipped the 18th overall pick to the Titans in exchange for star wideout A.J. Brown, which proved to be a deal that helped elevate the Eagles' offense to an elite level. Brown went on to break the franchise receiving yards record, significantly helped Jalen Hurts improve as a passer and now has the team in Super Bowl LVII.
The genesis of the trade that ultimately took Brown out of Tennessee was due to the receiver entering the final year of his rookie contract and wanting an extension. He and the Titans were unable to come to terms on that, so they elected to trade him to a team willing to pay him and recouped assets in the process instead of losing him in a year's time in free agency.
As we take a quick peek beyond the Super Bowl and into the offseason ahead, there are a handful of talented receivers who fall into a similar category to Brown's situation last year. Could they be on the move? It's certainly not out of the question, particularly if their current clubs don't see an extension coming down the road. With that in mind, let's take a look at some wide receivers around the NFL who could be placed on the market and have a Brown-like impact with another team.
Higgins' situation is a fascinating one due to the circumstances around him. On almost any other team, he's a slam-dunk player to lock up and have to bolster your offense. However, the Bengals have two other massive contracts they will soon need to execute. First up on that list is quarterback Joe Burrow, who is eligible for an extension this offseason and will likely become one of the highest-paid players at his position -- if not the highest-paid QB -- costing Cincinnati a pretty penny. Then, you have fellow receiver Ja'Marr Chase extension eligible next offseason. In both of those cases, you're potentially talking about deals that reset the market. That may mean there's not enough left in the kitty to give Higgins an extension that matches his status in the league, especially when you need to fill out the rest of the roster.
Unlike Brown and Higgins, the 49ers do have the option to use the fifth-year option on Aiyuk, which would ensure that he's under contract for the next two seasons. That said, this is still the time when someone in Aiyuk's position will be looking for an extension that stretches beyond that time frame and pays him at a competitive level. For San Francisco, it already made Deebo Samuel one of the highest-paid receivers in the league, and are also shelling out top-market deals to tight end George Kittle and left tackle Trent Williams, and will soon need to do the same with pass rusher Nick Bosa. Given all that spending, Aiyuk could be the odd man out here, and trading him away could help the Niners recoup some draft capital this offseason as they are without a first- and second-round pick at the 2023 NFL Draft.
Aiyuk even stoked those trade rumors last month by liking a photoshopped image of himself in a New York Giants uniform.
Brandon Aiyuk liked an edit of himself in a Giants jersey on Instagram… pic.twitter.com/cKS05lEtXc— Carly (@carlymersky) January 31, 2023
Jeudy had been thrown around in trade rumors leading up to the deadline this season, but nothing ended up coming from them as he stuck around in Denver to finish up the regular season. It's not out of the realm of possibility, however, that teams check back in to see if the former first-rounder is available this offseason, especially if he continues without a long-term extension. Similar to Aiyuk, Jeudy still has the fifth-year option hurdle but is certainly in the extension conversation and teams could look at the 23-year-old as a talented receiver who hasn't even reached his ceiling.
Denver already signed fellow receiver Courtland Sutton to a four-year, $60 million contract that has him with the team through the 2025 season, so the team may not want to extend itself once again at the same position.
The Colts feel like they are on the verge of a total rebuild as they are set to hire a new coach and are once again in the quarterback market. Given those circumstances, it doesn't make too much fiscal sense to sign Pittman to a long-term extension at this point, and would probably be better served to gain even more draft capital by trading him away. Because he was not a first-round pick, Pittman doesn't have a fifth-year option to concern himself with and is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract, so he'll be looking for some security this offseason in the form of an extension.
Buffalo is firmly in its Super Bowl window, so it does seem a bit crazy to think that it would ship away a key piece to its offense, but it's already spending big at the position. The Bills inked Stefon Diggs to a four-year, $96 million contract last offseason and the club is currently over the salary cap, so there's not a ton of wiggle room to fit in the type of contact Davis commands. With Diggs, Von Miller and Josh Allen all being paid top dollar, Buffalo does need an influx of young, cheap talent that could be achieved by sending Davis to a team willing to pay him and give the Bills some draft capital in the process.