The Vikings finally inked their first free agent that didn't come with a pronunciation guide last night, signing Bobby Wade, formerly of the Tennessee Titans, for five years and $15 million. Wade had something of a break out year last season, finishing second on the team with 33 receptions for 461 yards. While the totals don't seem all that impressive, they're deceptive.
First off, the Titans were starting a rookie Vince Young, at quarterback (Yes, he was Rookie of the Year, but he was still a rookie) . Jeff Fisher is an intelligent coach--he wasn't going to put the focus on his brand new franchise quarterback. The Titans ran the ball about half the time and had the fifth lowest passing attempts in the NFL. And Vince Young finished with the worst completion percentage in the NFL, at 51.5% (and I wonder how he's going to do now that his top two receivers have gone elsewhere?)
Secondly, as I mentioned yesterday, Wade added a lot of value to the Titans. He contributed 11.1 DPAR, which was 1.5 more than the Vikings leading receiver. The reason he was able to do so was because of what he did with his limited receptions. His 14.9% DVOA was the 19th best in the NFL. Both of these totals were better than Drew Bennett's, who had 6.6 DPAR and -4.5% DVOA. Wade even has a decent catch percentage, as he hauled in 57% of the passes thrown to him, which puts him somewhere in the middle of the pack for wide receivers. For example, he would have been behind Travis Taylor (65%) but ahead of Marcus Robinson (50%) on the Vikings last year. When using that stat, one must also remember that it does not attempt to decide where the fault for the incompletion lies, and Wade was playing with the most inaccurate quarterback in the NFL.
So while Wade's statistics may not be all that impressive by themselves, when taken in context, they show a receiver who will be an upgrade over any of the wide outs from last season. His addition is a good first step for the Vikings as they attempt to provide Tarvaris Jackson with someone to throw to.