Packers play catch-up, need ‘legit’ WR with speed
10: 49 AM ET
Rob DemovskyESPN Staff Writer
- Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
- Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association
The Green Bay Packers have a glaring weakness at wide receiver after trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and losing Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.
Coach Matt LaFleur doesn’t hide it. He knows they must do something to address the issues at the position.
“Certainly, if you look at our roster right now, we definitely need to get some speed in that room,” LaFleur said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida. “We need a guy who can handle the coverage. We lost a guy who was quite good at this. “
LaFleur referred to Adams as their “separator” due to the way the All-Pro ran routes, created space, and even against double-teams. Because of his propensity for catching deep balls, he called Valdes-Scantling “our speed guy”.
At this point, the top of the Packers’ depth chart at receiver includes Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and second-year pro Amari Rodgers. They also lost Equanimeous St. Brown to the Bears in free agency.
” “It’s like putting together a puzzle; you have to find the pieces that are missing and put them all together,” LaFleur stated. “How will that look in the end?” I don’t know right now. “
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst armed himself with plenty of draft picks and perhaps will finally break the NFL’s second-longest streak of first-round picks without a receiver, as Green Bay hasn’t taken one since Javon Walker in 2002. The Adams trade with the Raiders brought a first- and second-round pick this year, meaning Green Bay has Picks 22, 28, 53 and 59 in the first two rounds. Gutekunst stated that replacing Davante Adams will require a multifaceted approach. It won’t be like one guy. “
And it might not be an singular approach.
While Gutekunst recently attended pro days at Ohio State and Penn State, where receivers such as Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jahan Dotson could be in play, there’s still a chance the Packers could add a veteran receiver or two. Among the free agents still available is Will Fuller, most recently of the Dolphins and whom the Packers attempted to trade for in 2020 when he was with the Texans. Perhaps the best option via trade is DK Metcalf, if the Seattle Seahawks are willing to make a deal. These might be better options than expecting a rookie receiver to make an immediate impact due to Rodgers’ notoriously difficult treatment of rookie receivers. Adams, a second round pick, didn’t find his stride until his third season. Fifth-round pick Valdes-Scantling also struggled early in his career. Last season, Amari Rodgers, a third-round pick, caught only four passes for 45 yards as a rookie.
” I’ve seen it,” LaFleur stated. It’s a process like everything else. We can make this process more efficient by allowing those guys to get out on the field and putting them in situations that allow them to learn and grow. So, I don’t know. It’s going be exciting. “
LaFleur is the reigning MVP quarterback. Speaking for the first time since Rodgers decided to return for the 2022 season, LaFleur said he got the news via text while he was in an offensive planning meeting and “actually darted out right away to make sure I read it the correct way. “
“I think he’ll go as long as he wants to go,” LaFleur said when asked whether he has any sense for how long Rodgers might play after the 38-year-old signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension. “… These are not conversations we have often. We’re going to make the most of his time and continue to work hard to hopefully one day win a Super Bowl. “
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.