Right now, the only talk that seems to be surrounding the Green Bay Packers is blown calls and their desperate, growing need for another talented wide receiver.
General manager Brian Gutekunst took a step toward filling that need Wednesday with the signing of veteran Ryan Grant, but taking a chance on a float-around talent is much different than going after a big fish on the market. And without the star power of Davante Adams on the field, the Packers could use an infusion of skill and leadership.
Emmanuel Sanders checks both of those boxes.
The two-time Pro Bowl receiver is in his 10th season in the league, spending the first four with the Pittsburgh Steelers before moving to Denver and truly breaking out. Sanders caught for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons with the Broncos and earned Pro Bowler status in two of them. While his production has dipped in accordance with the Broncos’ success, Sanders is averaging 12.3 yards per reception this season and has already shown a few times he’s still got the moves.
What’s more, the Packers are reportedly among the teams who have inquired about trading for the veteran receiver along with a list of other suitors that include the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, according to Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright.
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If a Deal is Possible, It Won’t Happen Immediately
Unfortunately, the roadblock in the way is a pretty important one. According to the report, the Broncos told all interested parties that Sanders is not currently available, as they sit just two games out of first place in the AFC West with a divisional home game against the Kansas City Chiefs coming up Thursday night in prime time.
Denver general manager John Elway insisted last week the Broncos are not interested in putting any of their players on the trading block, then watched his team march to a 16-0 home win against the struggling Tennessee Titans. But the Broncos still have two difficult games ahead of them — including next week’s trip to the Indianapolis Colts — before the Oct. 29 trade deadline. By then, they could easily be sitting twice as far as they are now out of first place.
Trading away Sanders, the team’s second-leading receiver, would signal the Broncos are ready to accept their fate and invest in their future. It’s a more believable scenario if they lose to both the division-leading Chiefs and the Colts, which would leave them at 2-6 with some decisions to make. It doesn’t get much easier after the deadline, either, with home matchups against the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Chargers and road games at the Minnesota Vikings and Chiefs all still looming in the season’s second half.
The Packers Could Use Some Time to Consider
The immediate need for someone like Sanders is there for the Packers, but much of the long term hinges on further evaluations of some of their playmakers. The injury report Wednesday saw four of Aaron Rodgers’ leading targets listed as non-participants, including wideouts Geronimo Allison (concussion/chest) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle/knee) and veteran tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle).
Little is known yet about the injuries to Graham and Valdes-Scantling, but the latter did leave Sunday’s game in the first half after getting his right leg pinned while blocking on an Aaron Jones run play. He returned and made a 46-yard reception that helped the Packers in their comeback efforts, but it was his only catch as Rodgers looked to other options like Darrius Shepherd and Allen Lazard late in the game.
Depending on the extent of some of those injuries and the estimated return time for Adams, the Packers could have no choice but to make a move before the deadline. They sit at 5-1 with an NFC North lead and seem outright determined to make the playoffs after a two-year drought.