The Green Bay Packers are entering the 2022 season with an offense and defense that ranks in the top-ten of multiple offseason polls. Defending back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers is reportedly excited for the new crew of wide receivers he is going to work with after the departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, and Eric Stokes were the only trio of teammates to crack PFF’s list of the top 32 cornerbacks in the NFL. Truly, there are plenty of players on the team with very high expectations. However, there are also players whose futures in Green Bay are on the line this coming season.
Sammy Watkins is looking to turn his career around in Green Bay
There was a time that Sammy Watkins was one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL. Unfortunately, injuries have limited him for years and he has fallen far short of his potential. Last season with the Baltimore Ravens, he had just 27 receptions for 394 yards and a single touchdown. All three stats were career lows. Watkins even had better numbers in 2016 when he played just eight games (28 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns) with the Buffalo Bills.
The Green Bay Packers signed Watkins to a one-year deal worth $1.85 million. However, only $350,000 of that is guaranteed. If Watkins fails to produce in the preseason or early in the regular season, he could easily be cut. In fact, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky named him as a potential training camp cut candidate.
That all being said, many other analysts believe that Watkins is a lock to make the roster as the Packers’ first or second wide receiver. Additionally, Aaron Rodgers spoke glowingly of Watkins during an interview at the Packers’ mandatory minicamp. As has been the case for his entire career, everyone knows what Watkins can do. It is just a MAJOR question as to whether or not he will be healthy enough to do it.
Josiah Deguara may have put himself on the hot seat
Many of the moves that the Packers have made this offseason have been met with a great deal of positivity. One non-move, though, that has left many questions is the team’s decision not to pursue a tight end via the draft or free agency. Robert Tonyan will likely start the season on the PUP list and Marcedes Lewis, entering his 17th NFL season, is not a real receiving threat.
After Tonyan’s injury in Week 8, Josiah Deguara emerged as the Packers’ top receiving threat at tight end. He had 25 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Earlier this offseason, Deguara said that the offense will look very different without Davante Adams, and he is looking forward to being a bigger part of the passing game.
The confidence is great to see, especially since Deguara missed most of his rookie season with his own torn ACL. However, as Aaron Rodgers stated in a recent interview, production is better than potential. Without Tonyan, the Packers will rely heavily on Deguara in both the passing game and running game (as a fullback/tight end hybrid). If he is not up to the task, his place on the team could be called into question.
Mason Crosby’s future in Green Bay is uncertain
Mason Crosby will be back as the Packers kicker in 2022 despite having one of the worst seasons of his career in 2021. Last year, Crosby made just 25 of his 34 field goal attempts. His 73.5% accuracy was the second-worst of his career. He made just 21 of 33 field goal attempts (63.6%) back in 2012.
That being said, Crosby made 100% of his field goal attempts in 2020. However, he is entering the final season of his contract and will be entering his age 38 season. At this point in his career, retirement is on the horizon. If he struggles again in 2022, it will almost certainly be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. However, a strong season could convince the Packers to bring him back on a short-term deal in 2023. That is, of course, if he wants to play beyond this season. A poor performance, though, may not leave him that option.