Prior to the 2022 NFL Draft, wide receiver was widely considered the biggest need for the Green Bay Packers. Although the Packers drafted three players at the position, there has been talk that the Packers will be active in seeking to sign another veteran free agent to add to their present roster.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Packers will be “in play” for free agents like Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Julio Jones. But which one of these players, if any, make sense for the Packers to sign? Here is a look at these three players and the reasons the Packers GM Brian Gutekunst may or may not decide to pursue them as free agents.
First, let’s look at the present wide receiver room as it stands as of right now.
The Packers have the following players on the roster at wide receiver:
Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure, Juwann Winfree, Malik Taylor, Rico Gafford and Danny Davis.
The Packers usually keep six wide receivers on their roster. It’s possible they could keep seven plus one or two more on the practice squad, but it is not necessary to add a player to the room now. The top six entering camp are likely Lazard, Cobb, Watkins, Watson, Amari Rodgers and Romeo Doubs.
Part of the reason the Packers may want to add a veteran is that quarterback Aaron Rodgers often struggles to trust inexperienced receivers who may not always be on the same page he is especially when plays break down.
The Packers are also limited by the salary cap although there are certainly ways to free up more space including signing Jaire Alexander to an extension and possibly releasing a veteran player after June 1. Presently, the Packers have a little more than $10.5 million in cap space but they still need to leave room to sign players mid-season when injuries hit and to sign their full roster to contracts.
Here is a look at the strengths and shortcomings of each of the three receivers mentioned by Rapoport. Keep in mind none of them are a perfect fit. Each of them has reasons they would help and reasons they are not ideal fits.
Landry is 29 and played 12 games for the Browns last season, catching 52 passes for 570 yards and two touchdowns. The former LSU star made five straight Pro Bowls from 2015-2019. Landry is a good route runner and he has remained healthy for most of his career, never playing fewer than 12 games in his eight years in the NFL.
The drawback to Landry is that he plays his best in the slot and with Cobb and Amari Rodgers there, that’s one area the Packers are not sorely lacking on their depth chart. Is Landry a better player at this stage in his career than the two incumbents? Probably, but he wouldn’t really solve the biggest issues facing the receiver room right now and would probably cost the Packers more than some of the alternatives.
Odell Beckham, Jr.
Beckham came close to signing with the Packers last season but ended up choosing the Rams instead and helped them win a Super Bowl. The 29-year-old LSU alum suffered a torn ACL in the Super Bowl which means he may not be available until November at the earliest.
Beckham is undeniably talented and went to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in the NFL from 2014-2016. Beckham specialized in making highlight-reel catches and can be effective lining up on the perimeter.
The fact that Beckham may not be available until later in the season may be a benefit for the Packers. He may be willing to sign a one-year, prove-it type deal for less money for 2022. The Pack could stash the wideout on the PUP list if necessary and add him for the stretch drive and playoffs which would give Rodgers another weapon late in the season.
Unfortunately, the ACL injury is not Beckham’s first and he should be considered injury prone at this stage of his career.
Beckham also has a history of off-the-field distractions and has not always been the most popular guy in the locker room in Cleveland and New York. He seemed to have a lot left in the tank last year after joining the Rams but his effort has not always been consistent.
If the price is right, Beckham could be a low-risk, high reward type of signing if he’s healthy in time for the stretch drive and his attitude is in the right place.
Jones is the oldest of the three candidates here at 33. He is a seven-time Pro Bowler with the most recent coming in 2019 and was twice named All Pro.
He also has the size the Packers front office prefers in their wide receivers at 6’3” and 220 pounds.
When he was younger and healthier, Jones was a big, physical and fast receiver although injuries in recent seasons have robbed him of some speed and productivity. Jones has not played in every game in a season since 2018. Last year, the former Alabama star played in only 10 games and caught 31 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown. All those numbers were career lows.
The good news is that Jones has experience playing with Packers head coach Matt LaFleur from LaFleur’s time in Atlanta and the Falcons went to the Super Bowl with LaFleur on their staff.
Jones may also be willing to accept less money because of his recent injury history and for the chance to win a Super Bowl but he still may cost more than the Packers are willing to pay.
We will see if the Packers sign any of these players or are just showing interest. Training camp is two months away.
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