Packers Predicted to Sign ‘Realistic’ Veteran Receiver

Emmanuel Sanders Packers

Getty Emmanuel Sanders #1 of the Buffalo Bills scores a touchdown against Joejuan Williams #33 of the New England Patriots during the third quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York.

The Green Bay Packers might not have the cap resources to make aggressive offers for some of the top remaining free agent wide receivers on the market, such as Odell Beckham Jr. or Julio Jones, but perhaps Emmanuel Sanders could give them a less-risky option that is more within their price range.

Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton recently suggested “realistic” moves that each of the NFL’s top seven Super Bowl contenders could make to push themselves over the top in 2022 and made the case for the Packers to sign Sanders, calling him a “perfect fit” for two-time reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers with Davante Adams no longer in the picture.

“Instead of going after another injury-prone receiver such as Will Fuller or Odell Beckham Jr., 35-year-old Emmanuel Sanders makes a lot of sense,” Wharton wrote in his May 18 article. “He has been consistently productive since his third season in the league regardless of quarterback play and situation.

“His 2021 season with the Bills continued that streak, as he averaged 14.9 yards per catch. His ability to win with quickness off the line of scrimmage and cut sharply on intermediate routes makes him a perfect fit for an anticipatory passer like Rodgers. Sanders’ presence would allow the younger talents to take their time to acclimate to the NFL.”

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Packers Could Realistically Afford Sanders

Sanders might not be the receiver who put up three consecutive 1,000-yard-receiving seasons from 2014 to 2016 with the Denver Broncos, but he has remained consistent as a second- or third-option guy for offenses as he has gotten later into his career. Only once — in 2017 — has he finished with less than 600 receiving yards since turning 30, while his movements during and after the catch are still spry and aggressive.

Sanders has also reached the point in his career where he is likely more interested in winning another championship than securing a contract for the highest bidder in free agency, and that’s something that could genuinely appeal to the Packers after creating a little bit of cap space with Jaire Alexander’s long-term contract extension.

The Packers didn’t free up a ton of spending room with Alexander’s extension, but it does make another above-minimum veteran acquisition more of a possibility if they feel they need to add further to their receiving corps. With the right structure, they could certainly make a deal similar to the one Sanders had with the Bills — for one year and $6 million — last year work for them.

One last thing to remember about Sanders: Two years ago, he spoke with the Packers about potentially joining them in 2020 free agency before ultimately deciding to sign with the Saints, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. If the Packers are still interested in what he brings to the table, he could be an affordable option worth exploring.

Do Packers Want More WR Talent?

Media and fans alike have been screaming for the Packers to add more receiving talent in the wake of the 2022 NFL draft, but there is a legitimate case for them to do so no such thing even if it will send some of the talking heads into a frenzy.

The Packers have significantly reconstructed their receiving corps over the past month following the departures of Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. They signed Sammy Watkins to a team-friendly deal that gave themselves another experienced pass-catcher alongside Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. They also used three of their picks in the 2022 NFL draft to add rookies to the mix, including second-round pick Christian Watson — for whom they traded both of their second-round picks to land at No. 34 overall.

While the group is certainly unproven, it might be enough for the Packers until they start getting everyone on the field together and can begin answering some of their questions. Will Lazard take the next step in his development and become a regular problem for defenses? Is Watkins capable of putting his injuries behind him and rediscovering some of his early-career magic? Can Watson or fourth-round rookie Romeo Doubs get up to speed quicker than expected and start contributing immediately? If the answer is yes to any one of these, it redefines their needs.

Realistically, the Packers could have as many as seven receivers they want to keep for their initial 53-man roster if their current investments pan out. Lazard (once he signed his restricted free agent tender) and Cobb are solid-locks to make the roster as are the rookies Watson and Doubs. Despite a disappointing rookie year, Amari Rodgers will also almost certainly make the team, especially considering the Packers don’t usually give up on Day 2 picks — especially ones they traded up to get — so quickly.

The other two receivers with good cases are Watkins and seventh-round rookie Samori Toure. While Watkins’ contract gives the Packers the option of moving on from him for just $350,000 dead cap if he proves underwhelming in training camp, a consistent camp with no injuries should be all he needs to secure his spot. As for Toure, the Packers have cut seventh-rounders at the end of their first camp before, but not many are skill position players like him at one of their biggest positions of need.

If all seven — Lazard, Watkins, Cobb, Watson, Rodgers, Doubs and Toure — meet or exceed expectations for the roster, there isn’t much room left for another addition.

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Ray Selchert
Ray Selchert
1 month ago

So many of these dumb ass media pukes talk about the Packers signing some old retread. I bet they don’t. We’ve got plenty of quantity and quality of WRs right now.

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