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 isn’t trying to hide it, and he knows they have to do something significant to address 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 legit guy that can take off the top of the coverage. We lost a guy that was pretty good at doing that.”
LaFleur called Adams their “separator” because of the precise way the All-Pro ran routes and created space, even against double-teams. He dubbed Valdes-Scantling as “our speed guy,” given his penchant for catching deep balls.
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 a puzzle together; you’ve got to find those pieces that you’re missing and put it all together,” LaFleur said. “How that’s going to look in the end? I have no idea 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 trades 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.
“To replace a guy like Davante Adams is gonna be kind of a multifaceted approach,” Gutekunst said. “It won’t be like a singular guy.”
And it might not be a 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.
Those might be better options than expecting a rookie to make an immediate impact, given how notoriously hard Rodgers has been on rookie receivers. Even Adams, a second-round pick, took until his third season to find his stride and connection with Rodgers. Valdes-Scantling, a fifth-round pick, struggled early in his career as well. Last season, Amari Rodgers, a third-round pick, caught only four passes for 45 yards as a rookie.
“I’ve witnessed it,” LaFleur said. “It’s a process, like everything is. And the more time that we can get those guys out on the field and put ’em in certain situations to allow them to kind of learn and grow, hopefully we can be creative in ways we can expedite that process. So, I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting.”
At least LaFleur has the two-time 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 was any sense for how long Rodgers might play after the 38-year-old signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension. “…Those aren’t conversations that we have regularly. So we’re just going to take advantage of the time that he is with us and continue to try to work and grind to hopefully someday be able to get a Super Bowl. “
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.