2023 Packers Wide Receiver Targets

Green Bay Packers

The Packers wide receiver corps will likely take a step forward in the 2023 season, but with the likely losses of Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, at least part of that leap forward will need to come from elsewhere. Here are a few potential options.

The Draft

You have to think that a Rodgers-led team would only find year-one impact receivers in the first round. Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Jordan Addison are the ones going around the Packers’ pick in mocks. None of the four is a super likely pick in my mind.

Addison and Flowers are too small, Johnston is the same type of receiver as Christian Watson, and Smith-Njigba may not pass the team’s athletic thresholds. That means Gute will, once again, need to go against his tendencies and the team’s if he wants to draft an impact receiver for what could be Rodgers’ last season. It’s more likely that he will turn into a veteran.

Free Agency

The pickings are slim. Cobb and Lazard are both in the top 8 for the value of their last contract. The best player in that top 8 might be DJ Chark, who is another Watson duplicate.

The best option is probably Juju Smith-Schuster, who has played well enough this season to get another contract with Kansas City. If they pass, he could be a souped-up version of Lazard for the Packers.

If Gutey doesn’t like the first-round choices in the draft, he better hope more receivers get released over the next few months, or some veterans start to get disgruntled.

Trade

Darren Waller is the obvious choice here. The team has reportedly attempted to trade for him multiple times already and though he is technically a tight end, he could be used is mostly the same ways that Lazard has been. Like Juju, he would be a souped-up version of Lazard, someone who can do the dirty work while also getting separation consistently.

Some other potential options among veterans who are nearing the end of their current deals include Mike Evans, Corey Davis, Kendrick Bourne, Jerry Jeudy, DeAndre Hopkins, Amari Cooper, Michael Thomas and Brandin Cooks.

Certainly, there are some better names than the free agency cohort, but no one is worth writing home about at their current price.

Evans would likely be the best option, but he’s making at least $15 million next year and would probably cost a first-round pick. Is it worth trading a first for an expensive 30-year-old receiver? It wasn’t for the Raiders.

Jerry Jeudy would also be a nice option, but he showed unlikely chemistry with Russel Wilson as the 2022 season closed and the Broncos have no reason to shop their former first-round pick.

Michael Thomas was good at slants once, but he’s basically missed the last two seasons and I’m not sure how the Saints could even pull off trading him with the amount of dead cap they’d incur.

That leaves guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Amari Cooper, and Brandin Cooks. All old and all expensive. Cooper and Nuk make $20 million plus next year and Brandin Cooks is close to that number. Each of those guys would be a legitimate addition to the WR room and likely help boost the confidence and play of Watson and Doubs but I just can’t see how a trade for them could be pulled off.

Run it back

There’s also the option of bringing Lazard, Cobb, and Tonyan back. Let Lazard keep doing the dirty work and throw up a couple of jump balls for him every game. Just keep him away from jet sweeps. Cobb can be a player-coach like when Donald Driver played special teams his last season to stay on the team. Tonyan may be a separator a year removed from his ACL surgery.

As sad as it sounds, running it back is probably the most likely option. Bank on improvement from Watson/Doubs, maybe take a receiver or tight end (or a 250-pound running back?) in the second round and then flirt with a trade that inevitably doesn’t happen at the deadline.           

Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.

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