WR supply will easily meet demand with fourth-year free agents

Redskins tight end Chris Cooley reinforced this week what most of the NFL already knows: Washington needs a big-time wide receiver.

The Chicago Bears do, too. And add the St. Louis Rams to that list.

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Good for them, then, that the supply could more than meet the demand, with general managers and agents expecting available players with four accrued seasons to hit the open market as part of a new CBA.

The expected inclusion of these players -- last season players had to have six seasons of experience to gain unrestricted free agency status because of rules that applied to the expiring CBA -- have made receiving options more appealing.

Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Braylon Edwards, Steve Smith (Giants), and Mike Sims-Walker would be among what could be the deepest position in terms of free agents. Rice, Holmes, Smith, and Edwards could be big gets if they're not retained by their respective teams.

Some of these players were tendered restricted free-agent tags before the lockout, in case rules resembled last season and unrestricted free agency required six seasons of work. Those tenders likely will be meaningless under a new labor agreement.

The next tier of newly available wideouts would include Brad Smith, who has value as a returner and wild cat quarterback and could seemingly give a boost to teams in need of big-play potential (Miami and Jacksonville come to mind). Green Bay's James Jones, New Orleans' Lance Moore, Arizona's Steve Breaston, San Diego's Malcom Floyd, and Houston's Jacoby Jones are No. 2 or No. 3 wide receivers who could fill voids for teams.

These younger free agents would be added to a group of veterans that already includes Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Mark Clayton, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Cooley said in an interview in the "Cover Two Podcast" that Burress, who has spent most of the past two seasons in prison, might be most worth the risk because he's been humbled and is eager to prove himself.

The list of free agent wide receivers could also grow once veteran players can be cut. The Bengals' Chad Ochocinco and former Falcons first-round pick Michael Jenkins, among others, could be released and available once the NFL is back to business.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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