The Green Bay Packers must improve the passing game if they hope for a return to Super Bowl glory this season. The question is whether the necessary help will come from outside the organization or blossom from components already within?
Conventional logic dictates that Green Bay will be forced to look for an addition to the wide receiver room if they hope to make significant strides in 2022. The capabilities of veteran players like Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb have long been established. And while room exists for rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to make meaningful mid-season improvements, it strains credulity to suggest that either can become the top-end target quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been missing since the franchise dealt Davante Adams to the desert over the offseason.
However, an NFC personnel executive to Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo that the Packers’ front office is far more likely to buck convention in this case, especially considering its long held modus operandi.
“It’s not their style to go after veterans. That’s [general manager Brian Gutekunst]. He learned from Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson,” the exec told Lombardo. “Bring in a veteran, and you hope you get half a season out of him. But the reality is, they’re going to get hurt at some point, go on IR, and you’re going to pay them to sit on the bench. It’s just not their style.”
“If we have young guys [on the roster], go with the young guys,” the exec added. “Mature them. Let them learn from the good days, the bad days, and in their second year and beyond, they’ll be great.”
Packers’ Super Bowl Window With Rodgers Requires Urgency at WR Position
While the above philosophy is logical for the long-term, it ignores what may well be a closing Super Bowl window in Green Bay as the Rodgers era slowly spins toward an inevitable end.
The four-time NFL MVP, who has won that award in each of the last two seasons, will turn 39 years old in December and will play under a fully guaranteed contract only through the end of 2023, per Over The Cap.
The Packers have one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Rodgers, as well as one of the best offensive backfields in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, and a defense with a high-end ceiling. And yet, that might not be enough when the NFC’s best bear down on Rodgers and he is forced to rely either on inferior wideouts, receivers past their primes or rookies prone to befuddling and catastrophic errors.
Should the Packers surprise competitors around the league and make a play for a veteran receiver, the best option and the best bet is probably free agent Odell Beckham Jr. The problem is that Beckham isn’t likely to be ready to go until around Thanksgiving, meaning Green Bay would still need to navigate the first two-thirds of the regular season without his help, meaning a player, or players, inside the organization will still need to step up in the meantime.
Packers Will Bank on Rookie WR Watson to Have Breakout Season
The circumstances essentially boil down to the unavoidable truth that either Watson or Doubs must turn a slow start into a breakout year, or Green Bay’s offense will simply be forced to limp through the season with one of the least productive receiver rooms providing a constant hindrance to the team’s success.
As far as their competitors are concerned, it’s Watson or bust for the Packers in 2022.
“It’s going to have to be Christian Watson,” the NFC personnel exec told Lombardo. “He has size, speed, and big-play ability. It’s a big receiver game now, the majority of the offensive snaps that you see around the league. Christian fits that mold. He dominated at the lower level of college football. He has all the physical traits to be good.”
“[Watson] going to be fine,” the exec continued. “It’s going to come down to him learning the route-tree because he was never really asked to run it in college. He’s a smart kid, he will. He’ll be fine.”