The Packers’ pass-catcher room is about as thin as they come in the NFL right now, and despite a last-second 14-12 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, rumors of some Packers receiver trade targets could begin brewing before the NFL trade deadline Nov. 1.
The receiving corps ranks near the bottom of the league even when fully healthy; and now injuries have started to take their toll.
Free agent acquisition Sammy Watkins was placed on IR last week with a hamstring injury which will require him to miss at least the next three games. Rookie Christian Watson missed all of training camp due to knee surgery and missed the last game against Tampa Bay because of a hamstring injury.
Randall Cobb was listed on the injury report as questionable for the game against the Bucs but ended up starting and caught two big passes for 57 yards. Allen Lazard missed week 1 against the Vikings with an ankle injury that’s plagued him since the end of training camp.
The unit isn’t talented enough to withstand injuries to this number of starters so early in the season. The Packers need to add proven talent to the wide receiver position if they hope to provide Aaron Rodgers with suitable weapons by the time the playoffs roll around.
Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans
The Davis Mills experiment at quarterback in Houston has produced predictable results. The Texans are 0-2-1 in arguably the worst division in the league and could be looking to move pieces and build draft capital before the trade deadline.
Brandin Cooks has been one of the most consistent receivers since entering the league in 2014. Cooks has at least 1,000 receiving yards in six of his last seven seasons. He’s also missed only a handful of games due to injury in his career.
Christian Watson, the Packers’ primary deep threat, has been inconsistent and injured to start his career. Cooks could provide the Packers with top-level speed and reliability, and he hasn’t even turned 30 yet.
However, the Texans would eat a sizeable cap hit if they were to trade Cooks. The Packers could afford to take on his contract since the base salary is so low, but the Texans would likely want a relatively high draft pick and a player or two to compensate for the guaranteed money they owe Cooks.
Robbie Anderson, Carolina Panthers
Carolina’s offense looks abysmal to start the season, and it’s only because of great defensive play that they were able to secure their first win of the season against New Orleans on Sunday. Head coach Matt Rhule might be on the hottest hot seat right now, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him fired before the season is over if the team continues to trend in the wrong direction.
A rebuild is on the horizon in Carolina, meaning the Panthers could look to move a piece like Robbie Anderson sooner than later. The 29-year-old has been up and down for the Panthers, not posting a 1,000-yard season since 2020. He’d have a $21 million cap hit for Carolina next year, a figure they won’t be keen to pay.
Anderson is 6’3 with great speed and has been consistently healthy for years. His contract would require the Packers to restructure or give a player back to Carolina to free up some cap space. He doesn’t produce as much as a player like Brandin Cooks but could be acquired for less resources.
Kendrick Bourne, New England Patriots
Kendrick Bourne is the newest player to be locked away in Bill Belichick’s doghouse. Even with Jakobi Meyers out Sunday against Baltimore, Bourne saw just 18 snaps while Lil’Jordan Humphrey, a player with 17 career receptions, played 54 snaps.
Belichick has answered questions about Bourne’s absence from the offense vaguely. He has indicated that Bourne simply doesn’t fit the formations and schemes the Patriots have run to start the year.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are 1-2 and quarterback Mac Jones suffered what’s being called a severe high ankle sprain that could potentially keep him out of action for months. If Belichick wants to continue burying Bourne in the depth chart despite his undeniable talent, they may as well trade him, especially since this could quickly become a lost season for New England.
Bourne is coming off the best statistical season of his career last year, when he racked up 55 catches for 800 yards and 5 touchdowns. The 27-year-old carries an affordable $3.5 million base salary the Packers could pay if they were to take on his contract.
Because of the Patriots’ clear disinterest in playing Bourne, they would probably give him up for as little as a fifth or sixth-round draft pick.
In Bourne’s time with San Francisco and New England, he’s never been given a true opportunity to maximize his potential. Bourne is an experienced player in his sixth season that could bring both stability and upside to the Packers’ wide receiver corps.——————