Don’t expect a LaFleur family reunion in Green Bay anytime soon.
After the Packers parted ways with wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted on Thursday, some speculated head coach Matt LaFleur would attempt to lure his brother, Mike LaFleur, away from his role as the San Francisco 49ers’ passing coordinator. He had originally tried to bring his brother with him to Green Bay when he was hired about a year ago, but Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan blocked the move to keep his assistant in California.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday morning, though, the Niners have signed the younger LaFleur to a contract extension to keep him with the team for the foreseeable future.
While it would have been exciting to have both LaFleurs together, the Packers would have likely needed to offer him more than just a position as receivers coach, and there aren’t many holes in the coaching staff otherwise. The only other coaching departure this offseason was defensive backs coach Jason Simmons, who the Packers replaced with Jerry Gray after he left to take the same job with the Carolina Panthers.
There have been no reports of the Packers interviewing any candidates for receivers coach, but things figure to pick up over the next several weeks leading up to March’s free-agency period.
Predicting Which Packers WRs Will Be Back Next Season
The next receivers coach will be tasked with building up one of the weakest areas of the Packers’ game during the 2019 season along with developing what figures to be a lot of young talent.
As Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mike Silverstein pointed out, the Packers allowed two of their most experienced players to fall to the back-burner at the season’s midway point. In the final eight games of the regular season, Geronimo Allison finished with just 16 catches for 103 yards while Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught just four balls for 32 yards. Neither of them had touchdown catches in that span.
While Allison is set to become an unrestricted free agent and likely won’t be kept around, the next coach will need to figure out how to make more out of Valdes-Scantling. He started the season looking like the sure-fire No. 2 receiver with more than 400 yards in the first eight games, but his reps then sharply declined for reasons that were never made fully clear.
At one point, Valdes-Scantling was dealing with a lingering injury he was said to have suffered Week 8, but LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers also made some vague references to the effort levels of the receiving corps throughout the season — though, neither called out any specific players.
As far as next season is concerned, Valdes-Scantling seems more likely than not to return and have a shot at redemption after a lackluster 2019, but he will have some competition in training camp.
Allen Lazard is the hottest option to move into a larger role next season, while the Packers are still expected to add receiving depth either through free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft — or both if fans have their way. The Packers could bring both him and Jake Kumerow back for small money next season with exclusive free-agent rights to them, while former CFL star Reggie Begelton could also push for a spot on the initial 53-man roster for 2020.