Here we go; Part 4! The Wide Receivers.
Lets start with the current roster. So obviously we have Davante Adams. Nothing much needs to be said about him. We all know he is one of, if not, the top receiver in the league. Now going forward he has one more year left on his deal. I am betting they extending him either this coming summer or during next season. There is no way they are letting him get to free agency after the 2021 season. He will be 29 next season, so expect a 3-4 year extension. Gutekunst has shown that when he has pending free agents he likes to draft players at that position to hedge his bets or cover his butt, just in case something does happen.
Next is Allen Lazard. He was having a good start to the season until he had the core injury against New Orleans. He had surgery and missed the next six games. Lazard was on track to prove that he could be a good number two receiver. Since coming back he has seemed a little off. Lazard is almost certainly still not 100%. He probably won’t be until next season. When healthy he can actually be a good #2. Lafleur loves the guy. He plays hard and is a great blocker. He is also a underrated route runner and will get free on some deep passes. Lazard is also a pending free agent. He will be a restricted free agent this off season. Do they use the 2nd round tender on him? or original? I’m betting they use the 2nd round tender. He then would be a unrestricted free agent in 2022 if he doesn’t sign a long term deal.
Next is the most divisive of any Packers receiver of all time. MVS or Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Some fans hate him and want him cut, others like him and understand his value. The front office and coaching staff love the kid. He plays hard and he does all the little things they ask for. He may not be the blocker that Lazard is, but he gives his all. We all know what he brings to the table. He will catch a 70 yard bomb, then drop a 40 yarder. He has improved on the drops in year three, but he obviously will still drop one here and there. MVS will be a unrestricted free agent in 2022. Same as with Adams and Lazard. I think he will get extended, but they might wait until free agency after next season.
Next up is EQ as he is know or Eqanimeous St. Brown. He showed some flashes late in his rookie year, then in camp of year two hurt his ankle and was put on season ending IR. Coming into year three it was thought he would build upon what he showed towards the end of his rookie year. That did not happen. EQ has dealt with injuries this season again and inconsistencies. He has talent to be a good receiver. He can play the ‘big slot’ position. St. Brown will have to battle for his roster spot next year. The Packers tend to walk away from players who can’t stay healthy. He will need to come into camp next season healthy and stay healthy and develop chemistry with Rodgers to keep his spot. He will be a unrestricted free agent in 2022 like MVS and Lazard.
Lastly we have the bottom of the roster receivers. Malik Taylor. He is kind of a mini Allen Lazard. Taylor is probably a little more athletic but a lot more raw. He plays hard and blocks well like Lazard as well, but he has yet to develop much as a receiver after a year on the practice squad and he is already 25 so he will be in a fight for his roster spot next season. There is also Tavon Austin. He has not been used much other than as a motion guy and returning punts. I would say its doubtful he is back next season.
They also have Devin Funchess who opted out so his contract tolls to next season. I think had he not opted out he would have ended up playing a lot this season. Next season who knows. He could end up as as the number three receiver or he could end up getting cut before camp. It is really hard to say at this point since they never even had a chance to see him on the practice field. They may give him a chance, not much to lose.
As of this writing there are three receivers on the practice squad. Reggie Begelton, Seth Roberts, and Juwann Winfree. Begelton and Winfree played in a couple of games, but neither did anything. All three have a good shot at getting signed to a futures contract and coming back for training camp. Its questionable if any end up making the roster next year but anything is possible.
With all this being said about the returning players how will all that impact the packers in free agency and the draft? As for free agency probably not at all. With their up coming cap problems its doubtful they sign anyone of any significance. As far as the draft goes this will probably upset some people. The Packers will not draft a wide receiver in the first round. It pains me to say it. There are a number of wide receivers I liked in the first round last year and this year. Its just not in their DNA. Plus they really like their top three receivers. None of them are signed past next season though.
What Gutenkunst has shown as stated before is when he has a number of upcoming free agents at a certain position he likes to draft some guys at that position in case any of them happen to leave in free agency. Gutey also likes to create competition all through the roster. So expect him to draft at least one wide receiver early. Probably in the 2nd to 4th round range and maybe one more late 6th-7th round range. He likes receivers who have good size & athleticism, especially those who do well on agility drills. The last three receivers he drafted all scored over 8 on the RAS scale. MVS and EQ scored over a 9. He also likes guys who play hard and are willing blockers. The only receiver they drafted under 5’11 under Thompson was Cobb. Gutey seems to like his receivers even taller.
Looking at the current receivers who are in the draft that would fit the profile and fit in the range that they will probably draft one. Keep an eye on Tylan Wallace of Oklahoma State. He isn’t all that big but he plays bigger than he is. The first tackler never takes him down. Nico Collins from Michigan, Seth Williams from Auburn, Sage Surratt from Wake Forest and Dyami Brown from North Carolina.
See you in part 5! Go Pack Go!