You can make an argument that how the Green Bay Packers handle their wide receiver room this off-season could have as much of an impact on the 2022 team as who is throwing them the football.
Let’s take a look at the situations of all the wide receivers on the active roster and their status for 2022
Davante Adams WR1:
In some ways I’m surprised that Davante Adams impending free agency hasn’t caught more national attention.
I guess that’s the by-product of sharing the spotlight with a mercurial generational quarterback talent.
But that’s the book on Davante: slept on.
Always having to work that much harder to be viewed as an equal to the league’s best.
At the coda of the 2021 season he is the league’s best.
Entering the free agent pool for the first time at age 29, Davante may have priced himself out of Green Bay’s market and could be donning new colors this fall.
Adams has amassed insane receiving numbers over the past 6 seasons, putting him on a Hall Of Fame trajectory.
The problem is that Davante will be turning 30 years old during the ‘22 season. The football equivalent of the clock striking midnight.
The Packers front office is well known for letting players walk who meet the intersection of age & premium salary.
But, Davante has a number of things swinging in his favor:
1. He’s stayed relatively healthy during his Green Bay tenure with no major injuries
2. He doesn’t rely on long speed to be effective. His technical ability and reliable hands are traits that age well.
3. Aaron Rodgers wants him back, and the Packers want Aaron Rodgers back
The Packers have come out and said they intend to use the franchise tag on Adams, but at $20 million this would not appear to be a feasible option and likely something Adams would resist as well.
There is no questioning that Adams is a special talent worthy of a giant new contract.
The question is does Adams decide that this is his last opportunity to sign a record setting deal and follow the money…
Or does he decide that making some financial concessions is worth it to play with #12 in Green Bay
There are of course many other scenarios being bandied about, but I think if Rodgers does indeed return to the Packers the odds are strong Adams will as well.
Marquez Valdez-Scantling WR2:
I wrote an article about Marques Valdez-Scantling just before training camp stating that the 2021 season was make-or-break for him.
Not a stretch given that MVS was entering the last year of his rookie deal at the start of this season and now sits on the cusp of free agency.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure we have a much clearer picture of MVS value than we did before the season.
Maybe we know exactly what MVS is? A tantalizing size/speed combo that will always struggle with durability and efficacy.
The question to the Packers is how easily replaced is MVS’ skill set and do you believe that he’s reached his ceiling.
I feel like someone with MVS’ measurables and speed aren’t quite as rare as they once were. There’s seemingly always a small school WR size/speed freak available to take a flier on in the mid-late rounds.
To me the larger question is what’s your tolerance for Aaron Rodgers well known wide receiver trust issues?
If the Packers spend premium draft capital on a wide receiver, you can bet that Rodgers trust issues won’t help an already challenging college-NFL transition.
MVS has had an up-and-down Packers career to date, but he’s the devil you (and Rodgers) know.
I think you try and hammer out a new contract with MVS based on the data you have (and his rapport with Rodgers) and hope that MVS can put it all together.
There is a chance that another team values MVS’ potential more than the stats he’s produced and he lands a nice contract.
I think MVS will be back on a short deal and the Packers will add another wideout through the draft.
Allen Lazard: WR3
Allen Lazard has been a great story. Another wide receiver who has carved out meaningful snaps in the Packers offense after being a late round pick or undrafted free agent.
Lazard an undrafted free agent was plucked off the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad in 2019
Lazard is an interesting case as he enters the new league year as a restricted free agent.
The Packers will assign Lazard a draft pick compensation tender before he is free to negotiate.
I’m of the opinion that because the Packers originally acquired Lazard for nothing, that they may use the ‘original round’ tender on him (meaning they would receive nothing if he signs elsewhere because he was undrafted).
The second round tender would cost the Packers around $3.5 million to retain Lazard or net them a second round pick if he were to sign elsewhere.
Lazard has been a nice player for the Packers and I could see him back on a small new deal, but I’m not certain that his skill set couldn’t also be replaced by a similarly inexpensive option.
Equanimeous St. Brown: WR 4
Equanimeous was part of the 1-2 punch of the 2018 draft alongside MVS.
St. Brown also enters the new league year as unrestricted free agent.
EQ has a lot of similarities to MVS in that he’s got eye-popping measurables and may never put it all together at the NFL level.
MVS has certainly shown considerably more than EQ at this stage, but EQ has definitely had his moments and may be the best blocker in the WR room.
EQ also has NFL blood lines with his brother Amon-Ra performing nicely in his rookie year with the Lion’s.
I’m hopeful that Equanimeous can be re-signed to an inexpensive deal for his special teams value and knowledge of the offense even if he’s never a consistent contributor.
EQ may seek a clearer path to playing time elsewhere, but he should be reasonably priced.
Juwan Winfree: WR5
Winfree is another Packers front office bargain bin find.
Performing moderately well in spot duty, but definitely hasn’t secured a spot on the ‘22 squad.
Winfree has a nice skill set but is one of those guys where you could throw your cards in the middle and draw a new one and come out about the same or maybe better
Expect Winfree to duke it out in camp for his roster spot. I’m rooting for him!
Amari Rodgers: WR 14
Rodgers isn’t actually WR14, if you’ve read this far, but he was so lost on the NFL field last season that the Packers may have thrown 13 other guys out there at WR before him.
Rodgers was drafted in the 3rd round last year with the assumption that he would add a dynamic return element to the Special Teams unit.
Awkward and bad.
Rodgers couldn’t cleanly field a punt, offered little in the way of returns when he did catch it and showed very questionable decision making.
Amari saw the field very little on offense, so I’ll reserve judgement until he’s taken on a more meaningful role, presumably in the 2022 season.
Peter Bukowski mentioned on his “Locked On Packers” podcast that Amari Rodgers was the only guy who showed up on Special Teams during the Packers divisional loss to the 49ers and I agree with that.
Rodgers may not ever be Davante Adams but I remember the angry hoards ready to cut ties with Adams after year 2.
Let’s get some more WR help, but also let’s see what we’ve got in Rodgers too.
You can follow Adam on twitter at @adamjcarlson28.