Michael Pittman Free Agency Watch | Landing Spots and Free Agency Outlook

by Matt Babich · Contracts & Free Agency
Michael Pittman Contract

Welcome to PlayerProfiler’s 2024 Free Agency Preview! This year, we’ll be providing you with player-by-player insights as we approach the Free Agency period opening March 13th. In the last edition, we broke down the free agency outlook for Tee Higgins. Michael Pittman’s contract is also expiring and here we examine the free agency outlook and potential landing spots for the former USC Trojan and current Indianapolis Colt.

Background: 2023 Performance

It took until his fourth season, but Michael Pittman finally established himself as the Alpha playmaker we knew he could be. Playing in only four games with Anthony Richardson, Pittman placed himself in elite company. The fourth-year vet became just the third receiver to clear a 30-percent Target Share, 50-percent Route Win Rate, and 2.00 Yards Per Team Pass Attempt in the past three seasons. Pittman cemented his Alpha-status in his contract year, and did so efficiently. His 2.08 (No. 23) Yards Per Route Run marks the second time in his four-year career that he cleared the 2.00 Yards Per Route Run mark in the face of mediocre-at-best quarterback play. 

Despite his success, there is even more room for improvement when Anthony Richardson steps back under center next season, should Pittman remain a Colt. While Gardner Minshew provided Pittman with the best QB play of the young receiver’s career, he still suffered from poor accuracy and low target depth. Pittman only cleared 100 receiving yards three times this season and scored just four touchdowns. Richardson’s rushing ability may bring down total pass attempts, but his arm talent will allow for more efficiency. 

Most Likely Landing Spots

Indianapolis Colts

Pittman is already on the record saying he’ll play on the franchise tag. He noted that, while he doesn’t necessarily want to play on it, $20-plus million is nothing to scoff at and it gives him a chance to work on a long-term deal. Because of this, returning to the Colts in some form is by far the most likely landing spot for Pittman.

The Colts’ WR corps will be in shambles if Pittman walks, leaving Josh Downs as the only receiving threat on the team. With over $65 Million in cap space, a quarterback on a rookie contract, and a roster capable of winning the AFC South, securing the future of their star receiver is going to be the team’s priority. The franchise tag is not the end of the contract discussion for Pittman, who will likely ink a long term deal at some point next season.

Tennessee Titans

The following teams may look familiar from the likely landing spots for Tee Higgins, as there are only a few teams with the desperate need and the cap space to lock in a top-tier talent like Pittman. The Titans have nearly $74 Million in cap space and desperately need more weapons for Will Levis.

Beyond DeAndre Hopkins (who is only under contract for one more season), the Titans have relatively no pass-catching talent rostered. I expect Tennessee to be one of the heaviest pursuers of Pittman should he hit the open market. 

Carolina Panthers

While they don’t have excessive cap space, Carolina needs to provide Bryce Young with some more serious talent after the hiring of Dave Canales. Working with Adam Thielen as their number-one receiver, this team needs some talent to surround Bryce Young with and they need it quick. Thielen still has a little juice left, and Jonathan Mingo began progressing nicely towards the back-half of the season. Adding a skilled outside receiver to that mix would provide a big boost to Young’s options as he looks to get past a rough rookie season.

New England Patriots

The Patriots have $70 Million in cap space, wield an already solid defense, and haven’t had a true WR1 since the Obama administration. Should Pittman hit the open market, it would make nearly too much sense for the Patriots to pursue the veteran. While they’ve already wasted money on JuJu Smith-Schuster, they have some ways to get out of the contract without much harm to their total cap space. I would not be shocked if the now Mayo-led Patriots opt to move on from that contract and start their WR-room reconstruction from scratch by looking at signing Pittman.

Kansas City Chiefs

With only $24 Million in cap space on the books right now, and priority free agents such as Chris Jones, Willie Gay, Drue Tranquill, and Mike Edwards needing paychecks, this is an unlikely destination. However, the Chiefs have a few veteran contracts they can shake up, along with a tight end that ~may~ retire at the end of this season.

While the Chiefs have begun to excel in spite of their receiver corps, adding a piece like Pittman would keep the Chiefs amongst the top contenders in the league. This landing spot is fairly unrealistic, but would be incredibly fun.

Predicted Landing Spot

It would shock me if Pittman was wearing any other colors than the Colts’ white and blue next season. Pittman is a core member of the future of the Colts, and they’d be stupid to let him walk while wielding this much cap space.

Returning to Indy, Pittman is a buy in dynasty at WR20. He finished as the WR14 last season, and has the talent and the resume to finish at that mark or better over the next two to three seasons. Pittman is currently WR12 in my dynasty rankings.