The NFL free agent pool is growing more shallow by the day as teams embark upon the second wave of signings now that new free-agent deals won't impact the compensatory pick formula for next season. Dede Westbrook is currently unemployed but shouldn't be for long. The former Jaguars wide receiver appears ready to move on after spending the first four years of his career in Jacksonville.
Josina Anderson reported this morning that Westbrook has already had preliminary conversations with the Bengals and Vikings, and that some Chiefs players have reached out to gauge his interest in joining the defending AFC champs. Westbrook is coming off a torn ACL in October but should be ready to go when the season starts. During his last healthy season in 2019, Westbrook finished the year with 66 catches for 660 yards, a clean 10 yards per catch average, and three touchdowns.
Westbrook isn't a game-breaker but has good speed and will probably look better when he's not playing for one of the worst teams in football. Here are four potential landing spots for the former Biletnikoff Award winner.
Kansas City Chiefs
One of the teams already connected with Westbrook, the Chiefs are constantly on the lookout for depth contributors with a championship window open for as long as Patrick Mahomes remains healthy. They were turned down by JuJu Smith-Schuster earlier this offseason and lost Sammy Watkins to the Ravens, so Westbrook would be filling a need. He would undoubtedly succeed in KC's offense, since everyone gets theirs when Andy Reid is drawing up the plays. The Chiefs don't need more talent at receiver given their loaded corps, but every little bit helps and Westbrook would be a great addition as a third or fourth option for Mahomes.
The second team linked to Westbrook, and in a more official way than KC, the Bengals appear to be all-in on giving Joe Burrow as many quality targets as possible. They already have three good options there with No. 5 overall pick Ja'Marr Chase joining Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins in 2021. Westbrook would round out that group nicely, even if he doesn't necessarily bring a unique element to the table. The Bengals weren't super active in free agency and keeping the franchise quarterback happy is always a worthy endeavor.
The final team connected to Westbrook earlier today, the Vikings badly need a third receiver behind standout rookie Justin Jefferson and steady vet Adam Thielen. Those two combined for 2,325 yards and 21 touchdowns last year. After that, the team's leading receiver was tight end Irv Smith with 365 yards and five touchdowns. No other Vikings receiver managed to gain more than 200 yards the entire season. That is a problem. Westbrook would certainly be an upgrade over Chad Beebe, the de facto No. 3 last season, and giving Kirk Cousins as many quality wideouts as possible is important if the team wants to have any playoff success.
New England Patriots
Even though the Patriots' top five options are pretty much set in stone after overhauling their pass-catching group in free agency two months ago, the receiver group was so bad in 2020 that Bill Belichick should be looking at as many options as possible to improve. Westbrook qualifies. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers are a fine top three but aren't blowing anyone away and Westbrook could definitely work his way up the depth chart, unlike the previous three options on this list. If Westbrook wants a new home where he could earn his way into more playing time, New England is the spot.