Horn's best years are behind him, and may not be on the Falcons' roster for much longer. He's been somewhat injury prone his whole career, but he's missed a total of 13 games in his last three seasons, and has yet to catch above 50 passes or score more than five touchdowns since 2004. If he's not cut or traded by Week 1, Horn will have a minimal role on an already questionable receiving corps for the Falcons.
Another receiver who gorged himself at the Saints’ passing-game feast last year, Horn averaged a whopping 11.13 yards per look (second only to teammate Devery Henderson) and caught three passes of 40 yards or more despite missing the better part of seven games to a lingering groin injury.
At 6-1, 213, Horn is a tough, physical receiver who’s unafraid to mix it up over the middle of the field and will fight for the ball in traffic. He’s a smooth route runner and can still get behind defenders on occasion, but he’s lost a step or two from earlier in his career. Horn’s durability has also become a concern – aside from the games he missed in 2006, he also missed three in 2005 due to a hamstring strain. At age 35, it would a surprise if he reversed this trend and stayed injury free.
Of course, now Horn takes his act to Atlanta where he’ll fit into the receiving mix with disappointing former first-round draft picks Michael Jenkins and Roddy White and catch passes from the erratic Michael Vick. Don’t be surprised if his per-play numbers get cut in half.
After five years of being one of the most consistently productive receivers in the league, Horn missed four games with a hamstring injury in 2005 and slumped to his lowest totals and per play production since he became a starter. Horn caught just 47 percent of the passes thrown in his direction and his 6.25 yards per target was the fourth-lowest mark in the league among receivers with 100 or more. While it’s easy to read an age-related decline into this, hamstring injuries can nag receivers well after they return to action (see Randy Moss’s 2004 campaign), and Aaron Brooks’ implosion and eventual benching certainly didn’t help. Even if Horn has lost something at age 34, he relies more on his route-running, size and body control than sprinter speed, and having an accurate thrower in Drew Brees should help him bounce back. How the Saints integrate Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister into the offense remains to be seen, and though it could reduce Horn’s targets, it should also open up opportunities in the middle of the field.
Horn has been remarkably reliable over the last several seasons, posting 1,250-plus yards in four of the last five and posting 10-plus touchdowns in consecutive seasons. At 6-1, 213 pounds, Horn has good size, excellent quickness and the speed to get behind defenders. Horn’s not a great route-runner, and his hands are merely average, but as Aaron Brooks’ favorite target, Horn sees a lot of passes. Horn was sixth in the NFL in targets last season with 157 and 10th in red-zone targets with 20, seven of which he converted into scores.
At 33, Horn’s not getting any better, but given he stayed healthy in 2004 and posted career numbers in almost every category, we expect him to perform at this level for another season or two. Horn signed a six-year, $42 million contract extension in May that gave him $7 million to sign and a $1 million roster bonus. So, those who believe players (especially the show-boat types like Horn) perform at their best only when financially motivated might want to downgrade him a couple spots. Those less cynical should expect another 1,250+ yard season and at least nine TDs.
Horn was kept out of the end zone in seven of his eight games the second half of the season but made like ET after torching a depleted Giants secondary for four TDs. Horn caught six TDs on just eight red-zone receptions, so he’s not a big factor inside the 20. Overall, he was targeted 130 times (60 percent completions). He’s not afraid to go over the middle, either, with 13 catches and four scores in that area of the field. Horn should once again be productive in ’04, but at 32, his best days are probably behind him.
The routine is pretty well established by now. Horn complains about his role in the offseason. Horn talks smack to any opponent who will listen (and some who won't). Horn puts up monster numbers for three months. Horn disappears in the latter part of the