Since I assume that next year will wind up being an uncapped year, any free agent who hasn't been in the league for 6 years will lose his free agency status, meaning they will become restricted free agents...and most restricted free agents don't leave. So i'll do my best to make sure who is and isn't restricted and unrestricted now, but please correct me if i am wrong.
With the Patriots in an obvious hole for a number 2 starter next season (especially with Welker most likely to miss the whole season), let's take a look at who may be available.
Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers (would become restricted) - 2 straight 1,000+ yard seasons, 19 touchdowns in last 3 years. River's primary target. Only made $620,000...but a large pay increase is expected.
Derrick Mason, Baltimore Ravens (unrestricted) - 13 seasons in the NFL, 8 1,000+ yard seasons. Plays well in the slot and along the sidelines. Missed a total of 6 games in his NFL career. Has made 3 million each of the last 4 seasons, and will most likely land a deal similar to that again.
Terrell Owens, Buffalo Bills (unrestricted) - 14 seasons in the NFL with 4 different teams. 9 1,000+ yard seasons, astonishing 144 touchdowns and has only lost 7 fumbles throughout career. Definite locker room disturbance and never really happy. Landed a 1 year, 2.25 mil dollar deal with Buffalo, but had a 4 million dollar signing bonus. Value will likely decrease next season if he wants to land with a contender.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys (would become restricted) - Breakout 2009 season with over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns. Cowboys will most likely pursue heavily, but may lose him to others with a veteran presence. Made 1.545 million last year, and will look for a similar deal with at least 3-4 years.
Lee Evans, Buffalo Bills (unrestricted) - 2 1,000+ yard seasons, 39 career touchdowns. Deep field threat with above average speed. Made 11.7 million in 2008, and only 4.6 million in 2009. May land on a non-contending team and find 5-6 million dollar deal, or find less on a contender. A lot of question marks surround Lee Evans.
Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (unrestricted) - 2 1,000+ yard seasons with 30 career touchdowns, and has played on 4 different teams in 8 years. Has only played 4 full seasons (2 of them were his first 2 years), but is a threat when healthy. Made 9.88 million in 2009, but that number should come down this year.
Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos (would be restricted) - Highly unlikely to land anywhere besides Denver. Has had 3 tremendous seasons the last 3 years, landing over 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each. 25 touchdowns in 4 year career. Made 2.1 million last season, but expect that number to skyrocket.
Chris Chambers, Kansas City Chiefs (unrestricted) - After a poor first half of the season with San Diego, played 9 games with Kansas City and finished with over 600 yards and 4 touchdowns. Has only had 1 1,000 yard season, and that was in 2005, but has only missed 4 games in his 9 year career. Still has great hands, and a good amount of speed, but makes an average of 5 million a year the last 3 years. I would expect that number to dip down, but not by much.
Steve Breaston, Arizona Cardinals (would be restricted) - Had a 1,000 yard season in 2008, quality slot receiver during his 3 year career. 6 career touchdowns. Most likely to wind up back in Arizona. Made $460,000 last year, may crack the million a year plateau with a multi-year deal.
If anyone would like a mini-bio on any of the following free agent Wide Receivers, let me know and i'll include them. These seem to be lesser-tier players, but can still contribute to the Patriots.