Without two of their top wide receivers, the Green Bay Packers went out and got Aaron Rodgers some help Wednesday afternoon.
The Packers announced the signing of former Oakland Raiders wideout Ryan Grant in a series of roster moves that also saw them waive running back Tra Carson. The team also declared to tight end Jace Sternberger (IR) and safety Ibraheim Campbell (PUP) start practicing again this week for the first time in the regular season.
Grant is in his sixth NFL season since being drafted by the Washington Redskins in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, currently sitting at 123 catches for 1,333 yards and seven touchdowns throughout his career playing for the Redskins, Indianapolis Colts and Raiders. Adding the veteran helps the Packers support their remarkably young receiving corps, which could have to face the Raiders in Week 7 without star Davante Adams and fourth-year Geronimo Allison.
Allison remains in concussion protocol after taking an incidental shot to the helmet that knocked him out of Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions. He did not return as he was being evaluated for a concussion and chest injury. Adams, meanwhile, has missed the past two games with a turf toe injury he sustained near the end of a season-best performance against the Philadelphia Eagles during Week 4.
The Packers did not practice Wednesday, but an estimation of the injury report also saw second-year Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle/knee) and veteran tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) labeled with “did not practice” status alongside Adams and Allison.
Excluding those four, the Packers are left with a group of wideouts that includes three former undrafted free agents: Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard and rookie Darrius Shepherd. They also have the talents of veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis and pass-catching rushers Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams to lean on.
While Grant made just four catches in two games for the Raiders, he could see a regular number of snaps when the Packers host his former team at Lambeau Field at noon CT Sunday.
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Grant’s NFL Career Has Been Bumpy
The 28-year-old wideout’s career didn’t go exactly how the Redskins envisioned it would during his four seasons in Washington. While he played in all 16 games each season, Grant never surpassed 1,000 total receiving yards through that span, but his 84 catches for 985 yards did amount to a respectable 11.7 yards per reception. He also hauled in six of his seven career touchdowns for the Redskins.
The complicated part of his history, though, began during the 2018 offseason when Grant signed a four-year, $29 million contract with $14.5 million guaranteed with the Baltimore Ravens. Two days after signing, Grant failed his physical with the team due to a nagging ankle issue that his agent insisted was a non-issue. He became a free agent when the deal was voided and, not long after, inked a one-year, $5 million contract with the Colts.
Grant started a career-high 10 games last season with the Colts — which had a resurgent 2018 in what would be the last season of Andrew Luck’s career — and finished with the team’s fifth-most receiving yards with 334 yards on 35 catches. He also hauled in his seventh career touchdown catch during a 20-16 loss to the Eagles in Week 3, but his road in Indy ended not long after the end of the regular season.
Packers Taking Steps to Boost Offense
In a flipped-script year for the Packers, the defense has led the way while Rodgers and the offense have gone through some growing pains. The Lions jumped out to a 13-0 start before Rodgers manufactured a comeback late in Monday’s game, benefitting from Lazard rising to the challenge and hauling in a 35-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter that pulled the Packers within two points.
Moving forward, though? The model is hard to sustain with both Adams and Allison sidelined. Should Valdes-Scantling or Graham also be ruled out for Sunday’s kickoff against the Raiders, the Packers will be in desperate need of an impact receiving options.
Grant could get a shot at finally seeing his career take off, but the move is more of a bandage for the Packers than anything else as they give their playmakers time to heal. Still, the opportunity is there considering the state of things. Right now, Lewis (119) and Jones (163) are the only active pass-catchers with more than 100 yards this season, while the trio of UDFA receivers has combined for just 104 yards total.
If Grant doesn’t help solve the problem, the Packers might have to start looking at the trade market in order to add a healthy playmaker to their roster.