The Green Bay Packers traded All Pro receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this month and Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent. These two moves mean that Matt LaFleur’s offense will be without two of their top three receivers from last season when the 2022 campaign gets underway.
The old expression in the NFL is “next man up.” While it is clear the Packers will add at least one wide receiver through the draft and may sign a free agent or acquire an experienced receiver in a trade, the Packers will also need some of their returning wide receivers to step up and play a larger role in the offense next season.
GM Brian Gutekunst admitted it would be a team approach to replacing Adams. “You never really replace a guy like Davante Adams,” Gutekunst said earlier this week. “It’s going to be more cumulative and how the whole team steps up and plays and what we can add to that. So, getting the two pick and having four picks in the top 59 I think gives us a little bit of ammunition to try to make a difference there a little bit.”
With that in mind, here is a look at the Packers returning receivers and what the odds are they take a significant step up in their play in 2022. This does not include any new players who join the roster via trades, free agency or the draft. The odds are that several players will take on bigger roles but nobody will assume all the productivity lost by Adams’ departure.
Lazard is entering his fifth season with the Packers. The former Iowa State star had a career-high 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing two games.
Lazard has excellent size at 6’5” and 227 pounds. He is considered a very good blocker for a receiver and can help on receiver screens, short passes and running plays by springing teammates for bigger gains.
He has reliable hands and dropped only one pass in 2021 according to pro-football-reference.com. He also has the trust of Aaron Rodgers and is a good target over the middle of the field and in the red zone in part because of his size.
Lazard has played 73 percent of the Packers offensive snaps in each of the last two seasons and that number may increase next season in the absence of Adams and MVS.
Odds of a significant step up: 70 percent
Cobb has been a reliable slot receiver over the course of his 11-year NFL career and he has good chemistry with Rodgers. However, at age 32, he is slowing down and his small frame makes him prone to injury.
Cobb played 12 games with the Packers last year after Rodgers asked for the team to reacquire him, catching 28 passes for 375 yards and five touchdowns.
The biggest issue for Cobb is his ability to stay healthy. He missed five games last season and six in 2020 and has not played in every game in an NFL season since 2015.
Cobb may see a bigger role on the field if he stays healthy, but his size and durability may limit his chances of taking a big jump in productivity.
Odds of a significant step up: 35 percent
Rodgers is entering his second NFL season and hopes to take a bigger role in the offense after a disappointing rookie season. Rogers had only four catches for 45 yards in 2021 although his role was clearly going to be limited after the Packers traded for Cobb.
It would seem Rodgers has nowhere to go but up after last season. His natural role would be as a slot receiver and it is likely he will see more than 10 percent of the team’s offensive snaps next season.
Most recent Packers receivers have made their big jump in their third season. Look for Rodgers to put up better numbers, but a huge jump would be a surprise.
Odds of a significant step up: 45 percent
Taylor is entering his third season with the Packers. Thus far, he has seven catches for 80 yards and one touchdown in 25 games. His biggest role has come as a return specialist and special teams player.
The former Ferris State star will turn 27 in December and while he has put together strong training camps and preseason performances, he has struggled to get consistent separation from NFL defensive backs during the regular season.
A step up for Taylor may make him the team’s fourth or fifth receiver and possibly get him to 20 catches for the season, but don’t look for much more than that.
Odds of a significant step up: 20 percent
Like Taylor, Winfree has played well in training camp and in the preseason but has not had a major impact in regular season games outside of special teams. Last year, the Colorado alum made eight catches for 58 yards in seven games.
Winfree is 6’3” and 215 pounds which gives him the size the Packers like. He also run reliable routes. It is unlikely that he has anything more than a reserve role in 2022.
Odds of a significant step up: 20 percent
Chris Blair and Rico Gafford
Blair and Gafford are fighting for roster spots. Blair spent last season on the practice squad while Gafford has spent parts of the last three seasons with the Raiders catching two passes for 66 yards and a touchdown in eight games.
Neither of these players are likely to assume large roles in the offense in 2022 but you never know.
Odds of a significant step up: 10 percent
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