You gotta know when to hold em. Know when to fold em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run. Legendary chicken impresario Kenny Rogers first sang these prophetic words in 1978. And either you know these words by heart or you are a liar. Hell, The Gambler has become such a well-worn American pastiche at this point that it might as well be sung before minor league baseball games after the National Anthem. Still, the song’s ubiquity does not dull it’s sentiment. The fact that Kenny Rogers himself passed away in March of 2020, right before the world went to hell in a hand basket, proves he didn’t just sing these lyrics–he lived them. He truly knew when to fold em. I bet you Brian Gutekunst knows this song by heart. In a league where every hand is a loser, and every hand is a winner, here’s hoping that the Packers gamble is about to pay off.
Last month, the Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off a turbulent NFL offseason by signing former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk to a deal that could charitably be described as laughable, setting off a pretty incredible chain of events (the Jaugars don’t strike me as big Kenny Rogers fans). Whether Kirk, his agent, or the Jaguars front office themselves knew it at the time, this asinine contract was about to become Martin Luther’s 95 theses for the future of the wide receiving market. Luckily for the Packers, Brian Gutekunst clocked this development swiftly, and chose to zag. That is why Davante Adams is wearing black and silver and the Green Bay Packers wide receiver room has a basketful of “Hi, My Name Is” tags by the door.
Under this new reality where wide receiver salaries resemble oil company quarterly earning sheets, the rookie wide out has become more valuable than a warehouse full of Banksy paintings. The rookie contract has, in essence, become the only feasible way to fit a top 5 quarterback and a top 5 wide receiver on the same team at the same time. The Packers saw this. The Chiefs and Titans saw it, too. I wouldn’t be shocked if the 49ers joined this fraternity shortly. And, it’s this fact that led Green Bay to stack up their draft chips two weeks ago and trade up for North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson. It’s also why I don’t think this will be the last time you see Green Bay trade up for a potential #1 receiver. Receivers have essentially become the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT of the NFL.
Now comes the Packers river card–Whether these youngsters we drafted two weeks ago end of panning out. Green Bay’s 2022 Super Bowl hopes hinge on this turn. With Aaron Rodgers, our running back duo, and this nasty defense we have built, the Packers are holding three aces–Watson or Nevada receiver Romeo Doubs (or Sammy Watkins for that matter) stepping in and balling out would be a fourth ace on the flop. An answer to a gambler’s prayer.
Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be praying for miracles if our original gamble had paid out. What gamble you ask? The gamble called love. No, not the kind of love you get a babysitter and draw the shades for. No, I am talking about Jordan Love. If Jordan Love was worth half a damn, our bet would be paying off nicely right now. But, he isn’t. Maybe in the next year or two Love takes a leap and lives up to his draft position, but, by then it will be too little too late to really matter. Love’s failure to wrest the reigns away from Aaron Rodgers cost the Packers the most valuable asset of all–a quarterback on a rookie deal. Jordan Love’s failure to launch is essentially what landed Davante Adams in the unforgiving Las Vegas desert and brought Brian Gutekunst back to the green felt table at the draft, hoping to chase a bad bet with a good bet.
The last few years, the Packers have been on a train bound for nowhere. Now, they have a few cards in their hand. Hopefully we have an ace or two to keep. Twenty six months ago, Kenny Rogers was lucky enough to die in his sleep. The Gambler asserts that this is the best outcome you can hope for. I like to think that was true for Kenny. Now, I am praying that the Packers have some money left to count when the dealing is done.
Timothy Preece has been a Packers fan since 1991 and currently lives in Utah because he makes bad decisions. You can follow him on twitter at @LegitimateTimP.
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