Many of you are familiar with the Football Outsiders statistical ranking system. Their method isolates every play of the season, and measures it to the league average play of that type, i.e. every rush on 3rd and 3, every pass on 1st and 10, etc. Using these numbers, they rank players at each position, by their production vs. the league average. This method tends to be more reliable than typical metrics like yards and touchdowns, because it neutralizes the effect of running offenses vs. passing offenses, teams that throw to one receiver and teams that distribute the ball around, and teams that are usually ahead vs. teams that are playing catch-up. It also tracks how many passes are thrown his way, and reception percentage. (Branch and Givens were ranked #1-2 in 2004 in fewest passes dropped. Sadly, they declined this season). In 2005, Givens was the 28th best receiver in the NFL. (Branch was 12th) So by this measuring stick, he definitely is good enough to be a #1 receiver (as we've seen by his increased production when Branch is hurt). http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/wr.php One thing to keep in mind that it is impossible to separate player from quarterback, so don't expect to see many 49ers or Bears ranked highly. Here's Givens and the five players North and South of him, minimum 50 times thrown to, both 2005 ranking, and 2004 ranking for comparative purposes. Some guys are improving with age and experience, some are declining for the same reasons, and some are relatively consistent: 23-J.Smith JAC (2004 #30) 24-R.Moss OAK (#22) 25-D.Stallworth NO (#46) 26-D.Jackson SEA (#29) 27-T.Owens PHI (#10) 28-D.Givens NE (#24) 29-B.Engram SEA (#44) 30-Ro.Williams DET (#60) 31-M.Robinson MIN (#38) 32-K.Johnson DAL (#20) 33-A.Hakim NO (#39) Other notables: #17 Reggie Wayne (ranked #1 in 2004) #20 Derrick Mason (#23) #21 Joe Jurevicius (DNQ) #22 Antonio Bryant (#41 in 2004) #34 Troy Brown (DNQ) #56 Eric Moulds (#45, badly trails teammate Evans in last two years) #75 Antwaan Randle-El (#42) #81 Muhsin Muhammad (#3 in 2004) #83 Brandon Lloyd (#55) #89 David Patten (#32 in 2004) My conclusion is that Givens is a borderline #1/2 WR. The only FAs out there who are as effective would be Owens (no), Wayne (too $$), Jurevicius, and Bryant. Obviously, statistical metrics by themselves don't tell the entire story, and are just a tool I use in evaluation. It is unknown if any GMs put any stock in this type of evaluation either. However, I think it backs up what we've been talking about anecdotally, That while Givens isn't the type of receiver who traditionally commands top dollars, his standing in relation to the WR free agent class is going to make him a popular target for teams needing a top 2 WR. And Antwaan Randle-El hasn't done anything yet to justify a starting WR job or salary, although his best years are clearly ahead of him. Andre Davis hasn't been healthy often enough to get ranked, but would have finished #45 or so, so he is an option if healthy. In his last healthy season (2003) he was ranked #14. If Givens leaves, Bryant, Jurevicius, and possibly Moulds are the only WRs who have demonstrated (recently) that they can replace his effectiveness. And as each one signs and the supply shrinks, the price tag on the remainder goes up. I think it's important for BB to make his best offer to Givens as soon as possible. In the last three years, he's been ranked 26th, 24th, and 28th, which is really ideal for the #2 WR. There's no reason we shouldn't expect another 3-4 years of similar numbers. If Givens signs elsewhere, unless Andre Davis or a draft pick plays there, we could well end up paying more money than Givens would've cost us.