The Green Bay Packers have reached a point in the season where taking a big swing makes real sense, as long as it is calculated and can end in a home run.
The franchise’s outlook was shaky, at best, after a Week 1 manhandling in Minneapolis. But the Pack got back on track the following Sunday against the Chicago Bears, who are frequently helpful like that. Then Aaron Rodgers and company traveled to Tampa Bay where they bested Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in a defensive slugfest. Next come the New England Patriots, most likely down a starting quarterback in Mac Jones due to a high ankle sprain.
A 3-1 start, should the Packers achieve it, is nothing to sneeze at — and it is literally the best any fan could have hoped for following the team’s opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings. But win or lose, one thing remains abundantly clear on an anemic offense averaging just 16 points per game despite running out the back-to-back MVP under center each week — Green Bay needs more help at wide receiver.
There are a handful of potential answers available on the trade market, including two who play for the Patriots in Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. And with the injury to Jones, each becomes more gettable with every passing loss in New England — like the one Green Bay can dole out to the franchise this Sunday.
But as a perennial Super Bowl contender, perhaps the Packers should aim higher, at least in terms of upside. Should they decide to do so, New York Giants wideout Kenny Golladay represents an opportunity for the team to bring in a former Pro Bowler with whom they are familiar from his days with the Detroit Lions.
Packers Land Golladay Via Trade Only if Giants Willing to Play Ball
For the Packers to have a realistic shot at landing Golladay, the Giants would have to play ball — namely in the form of eating a considerable amount of the receiver’s 2022 salary.
Golladay carries a cap hit of more than $21.1 million this season, while the Packers have approximately $8.5 million in available cap space. Green Bay wouldn’t be interested in spending every last dime, as franchises typically hold at least a few million aside for unexpected emergencies. Thus, there is at least an eight-figure cost gap that would need to be negotiated.
The Packers could make a few moves on their end, potentially trading or releasing some lower-level players who represent roster redundancies, to clear up a few million more in spending money. But the Giants would also have to be willing to eat a significant amount of Golladay’s salary just to send him away.
Packers Could Convince Giants to Pay Much of Golladay’s Salary
That kind of move doesn’t normally make much sense for a franchise, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN suggested in a piece on Wednesday, September 21, that it might in the case of the Giants and their unwanted receiver who is playing almost not at all.
The Kenny Golladay situation in New York is far from over. When a receiver with a $21.15 million cap hit plays two snaps on Sunday, there’s no coming back from that. This is the classic case of a new regime … taking over a contract it wouldn’t have done itself. And when that’s the case, teams look for exit strategies.
The Giants didn’t do anything with Golladay’s contract in the preseason because the guarantees hamstrung them. His $13 million salary and $4.5 million roster bonus are locked in. Zero wiggle room. But a similar situation unfolded in the New York area a few years ago, with the Jets and Le’Veon Bell. GM Joe Douglas, who didn’t do the Bell deal, decided the Jets were better off paying Bell his $13 million in guarantees to go away, first trying to trade him before releasing him.
The difference is Golladay, as an accomplished wide receiver with red zone scoring potential, could have some trade value if the Giants agree to cover most of his salary. Something to watch, because Golladay can’t be satisfied with his role.
Golladay, a receiver who eclipsed 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons (2018, 2019) and caught 11 touchdown passes during his Pro-Bowl campaign (also 2019), has a total of just two catches for 22 yards through three games this season, per Pro Football Reference. He has been targeted only five times in the passing game.
Injuries robbed the receiver of 11 games in 2020 and though last season was a down year, during which Golladay pulled in just 37 catches for 521 yards, he is still only 28 years old and playing in his sixth NFL season. Only one of those campaigns (2020) was ever seriously hampered by injury, which indicates a significant amount of gas is left in his tank.
If the Giants could get a mid-round, or even a late-round, draft pick back in exchange for a player they don’t want anyways, while also moving off his contract next season, it would make a good deal of sense to eat a significant portion of Golladay’s salary and simply cut ties now.
The problem for the Packers would be finding the space to fit Golladay’s $21.4 million cap hit into their budget for the 2023 season, though restructuring options and roster changes should allow the front office enough maneuverability to make it work, were they so motivated.
A legitimate Super Bowl window open for the next two or three years while Rodgers remains at the helm could be precisely the motivation the Packers need to do a deal for a player like Golladay, who represents a potential home run for the franchise.