The Green Bay Packers need a veteran presence in the offensive huddle next season and for the first time in decades, it won’t come from the quarterback position.
Fourth-year player Jordan Love is set to take the helm for the Packers in 2023, the first time in more than 30 years the Packers won’t run out Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers (or both) to kick off the year. The team has also gotten considerably younger in the wide receiver room, trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders one year ago before letting Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb walk in free agency last month.
Head coach Matt LaFleur spoke to the lack of experience in the passing game last week at the NFL Owners’ Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.
“We’re going to have to add some bodies to that room. What do we got, like five guys on the roster right now?” LaFleur said to reporters.
“I think some veteran leadership would be nice,” LaFleur continued. “Although, I think guys like Allen and Randall did such a great job last year kind of taking those guys under their wing and showing them the ropes and the expectations and the practice habits that you need to have to go out there and play at a high level. But there’s going to be a lot of growth with those two guys, certainly Romeo [Doubs] and Christian [Watson].”
Watson made 41 catches for 611 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games played last season while also rushing the ball seven times for 80 yards and two scores, per Pro Football Reference. Doubs hauled in 42 catches for 425 yards and three touchdowns in 13 appearances.
Handful of Veteran Wideout Options Remain For Packers in Free Agency
With Watson and Doubs set to be the top two options in the passing game, the question becomes what type of veteran wideout should the Packers be looking for?
One option is five-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry, who remains a free agent after a disappointing one-year stint with the New Orleans Saints. Landry is a cost-effective option with slot experience who could fill the role of the departed Cobb.
If the Packers decide to go younger and target a player with more potential versatility, the team could look to former Detroit Lions Pro Bowler Kenny Golladay. There were rumbles of a potential trade for Golladay in Green Bay last season, though they never picked up too much traction.
The New York Giants cut the wide receiver after more or less shelving him last season. But even despite receiving just 17 targets in 2022, Golladay remains on the right side of 30 and has a couple of 1,000-yard campaigns to his name. He is far from a sure bet, though the Packers could sign him to a value deal that either pays off huge or is simple/cheap enough to bail on early if things don’t work out.
Packers Expected to Use High Pick on Wide Receiver in 2023 NFL Draft
The Packers are expected to look for a receiver in the early rounds of the upcoming draft, and who they land on could impact the type of wideout they pursue in free agency.
General manager Brian Gutekunst attended the University of Tennessee Volunteers pro day on Thursday where he got an up-close look at wide receivers Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman. Both are top-10 prospects at the position in 2023 and both can likely be procured in the middle of the second round. They also each offer a complementary fit alongside Watson and Doubs.
Green Bay selects at No. 15 in the first round, though most projections have the team looking at a tight end or defensive lineman in that spot. A receiver is most likely a second-round priority, as the Packers own the No. 45 overall pick and could acquire another selection in the low-40s once they complete the Rodgers trade with the New York Jets.