All three of the Green Bay Packers top receivers are scheduled to become free agents this offseason unless they are signed to new contracts. The biggest name is Davante Adams. Then, Allen Lazard is a restricted free agent while Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be an unrestricted free agent.
The question remains whether the Packers will re-sign MVS to a new deal. Through four seasons in the NFL, Valdes-Scantling has caught 123 passes for 2,153 yards and 13 touchdowns. His career average per catch is a healthy 17.5.
In 2021, Valdes-Scantling played in only 11 games due to injury and started seven. He finished the season with 26 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns.
There is little doubt that speed is MVS’s biggest asset. He can stretch a defense like no other receiver on the Packers depth chart. An amazing eight of his 13 career touchdown catches came from 40 yards or longer. He led all eligible receivers in the NFL in 2020 with a 20.9-yard average per catch.
While his speed and downfield abilities are unquestioned, Valdes-Scanting’s consistency has been an issue throughout his career. He has never caught more than 38 passes in any one season and his career catch percentage is just 49.8 percent according to pro-football-reference.com.
In the 11 games he played in 2021, MVS had more than three catches just three times. In five games, he had either one or zero catches. At times, quarterback Aaron Rodgers seems to forget MVS and at other times he tries to force the ball to him and took a deep shot even when Valdes-Scantling was not truly open.
Valdes-Scantling is a confident player with a strong work ethic, but he has yet to find the consistency that would take his game to the next level and establish himself as a bona fide number two receiver in an NFL offense. At 27, he is already in his prime and is unlikely to make significant jumps in his play at this stage in his career.
One thing MVS has managed to do during his four seasons in Green Bay is winning the trust of his quarterback. As many Packers fans know, this is not always easy for any receiver. Rodgers also appreciates how Valdes-Scantling’s deep speed can create splash plays and open things up for receivers underneath because defenses must respect his ability to get deep.
“MVS is a guy who I have a ton of confidence in,” Rodgers told reporters in 2020. “I really feel like, if he can continue to grow, he can really add to our football team. I look for him to make big strides.”
Both the Packers front office and MVS have indicated they are interested in signing a new deal. Valdes-Scantling has also said he would stay in Green Bay even if Rodgers does not return next season.
“That really doesn’t factor into it,” Valdes-Scantling explained. “Obviously, I would love to continue to play with Aaron Rodgers – he is the best quarterback in the history of football. But if I don’t play with him, there’s going to be a new quarterback no matter where I go.”
The Packers have difficult decisions to make this offseason at the wide receiver position. Their top priority remains bringing back Adams who has been selected to five straight Pro Bowls and has been named All Pro in each of the last two seasons. He will also be the most expensive player to bring back and the Packers may have to use the franchise tag on Adams to prevent him from hitting the open market later this month. If Adams plays on the franchise tender, his cap hit would be roughly $20 million this season and that would hurt the Packers cap situation.
They also need to give Allen Lazard a tender offer if they want to bring him back. And then there is Valdes-Scantling.
Because of the Packers tight salary cap situation, they may not be able to bring back all three of their top receivers from last season. It remains to be seen how high of a priority MVS is to Brian Gutekunst and the Packers front office.
One thing is certain, however. If the Packers don’t bring Valdes-Scantling back, they will need to get another speed receiver who can stretch defenses. And if the Packers are all in for 2022, would a rookie be able to win Rodgers’ trust and get the job done better than MVS has done? That is one question the Packers front office has to answer in the coming weeks.
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