The Green Bay Packers have to swing for the fences this offseason to supercharge the passing game and give Aaron Rodgers the receivers he needs to succeed.
The skinny: There’s been a lot of talk that Rodgers is declining in his mid-30s. But take a look at Green Bay’s roster and it’s pretty clear the thing that’s declined the most is the team’s talent at wide receiver.
Here’s a look at the current situation:
- Davante Adams is an undisputed No. 1 receiver and one of the best in the business. So at least the Packers have that going for them.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling has potential. But he’s never really been consistent enough to give the Packers a legitimate No. 2 option.
- With just 20 catches in the past two seasons, Jake Kumerow hasn’t worked his way into Rodgers’ good graces.
- Like MVS and Kumerow, Geronimo Allison has shown promise at times but just can’t seem to stay on the same page with Rodgers.
- Allen Lazard broke out a bit last season, catching 35 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns.
- Jimmy Graham is old and slow. He also caught just five touchdowns the past two seasons.
- As a rookie, Jace Sternberger was barely used.
What it boils down to is that the Packers have a bunch of guys that either haven’t lived up to expectations or have limited ceilings, outside of Adams.
Go big or go home: If the Packers are going to transform from a playoff team to legit Super Bowl contender, they have to land another top receiving weapon for Rodgers. Thankfully they have enough cap space ($23.95 million, per Over The Cap) to take a big swing in free agency, and the draft is loaded with potentially elite playmakers.
The top candidates: Here, we’ll dive into the receivers the Packers should target this offseason — a couple of elite free agents and some college star set to enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
First, these two free agents should be front and center in the mind of general manager Brian Gutekunst.
- Amari Cooper says he wants to re-sign with the Dallas Cowboys, but they are unlikely to franchise tag the receiver due to the situation with Dak Prescott, and have plenty of other mouths to feed, too. Cooper is one of the best receivers in the NFL, and teaming him up with Adams would give Rodgers one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL.
- A.J. Green sat out the entire 2019 season with an ankle injury that was supposed to be a short-term deal. But chances are, his health will magically improve if he signs with a contender. One of the best overall receivers in the league, Green is still in his prime at the age of 31. Imagine him catching passes from Rodgers all season long and it’s not hard to think he’ll have a career year.
Depending on what happens in free agency, the Packers could do a number of things with their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Here, we go bold with a trade up from No. 30 overall to No. 7 overall as the Carolina Panthers look to rebuild over the long haul with rookie head coach Matt Rhule.
- Land CeeDee Lamb at No. 7 overall and watch the offense explode. Lamb is an after-the-catch speed demon who routinely pulled off plays that defied logic and reason during his tenure at Oklahoma.
If the Packers stand pat at No. 30, they can still land an explosive playmaker. Here’s who we’d pick at that spot.
- Select Tee Higgins out of Clemson is a big-bodied receiver with absurd body control and sticky hands. He would give Rodgers the ability to routinely convert the back-shoulder throws he loves and throws so well. And the red zone is where Higgins shines, which is something the Packers need help with in a big way.
Should the Packers be inclined to trade down, likely out of the first round altogether, they could still come away with outstanding receivers. Here are a few who could be available in the second round.
- Laviska Shenault Jr. out of Colorado has first-round talent but could fall in the draft due to injury concerns. He’s a potential steal and one of the most impressive overall weapons to come into the NFL in a long time.
- Brandon Aiyuk out of Arizona State missed his chance to impress at the Senior Bowl due to an injury but has blazing speed and could end up becoming a star at the next level.
- Justin Jefferson out of LSU is an intriguing option for Green Bay, because he’s a tough, sure-handed slot specialist who has experience in big games and could quickly become a favorite of Rodgers as a rookie.
- Jalen Reagor out of TCU is flying under the radar because this year’s receiver class is so deep. But this is a dude who can flat-out play against any competition.
The bottom line: The Packers need receivers in a big way this offseason. Thankfully, there is an abundance of talent to be found, both in free agency and the draft. It’s time for Gutekunst to once more take an aggressive stance to address an area of need and propel the Packers back into the Super Bowl conversation.