Another one of the Green Bay Packers’ top free agents will be playing in another uniform next season.
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Kansas City Chiefs are signing deep-threat wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to a three-year, $30 million contract with incentives that could push his total earnings to $36 million.
Valdes-Scantling caught 123 passes for 2,153 yards and 13 touchdowns over his four seasons with the Packers, delivering his best year in 2020 when he averaged 20.9 yards per reception on 33 catches and hauled in a career-high six touchdowns. The 27-year-old is coming off a slight down year in 2021, though, in which he caught 26 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns but missed seven total games — including Green Bay’s playoff loss to San Francisco — due to two different injuries.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had previously reported the Packers were interested in re-signing Valdes-Scantling after trading All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, but it was also noted that he had “other offers” on the table and some negotiating leverage as a result.
After several days of quiet, things picked up again on Wednesday, March 24, when Pelissero mentioned Valdes-Scantling was en route to Kansas City for an official visit in the wake of the Chiefs trading Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins for a haul of picks. Valdes-Scantling offered a similar speed component that the Chiefs were losing in Hill, making him an ideal fit despite having considerably less career production.
Now, the Chiefs will take their shot at unlocking Valdes-Scantling’s untapped potential over the next few seasons, while the Packers are left with one fewer free-agent option to bolster their receiving corps for the 2022 season. The Packers’ top three receivers at the moment are Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Malik Taylor with nothing but unproven talent — Amari Rodgers, Juwann Winfree, Chris Blair, Rico Gafford — behind them.
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MVS Chose Chiefs Over Saints & Packers
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Packers were still in the running for Valdes-Scantling before he ultimately decided to sign with the Chiefs. They had made him a one-year contract offer that was said to put them in consideration, but other teams were more aggressive in their pursuit of his deep-threat talents.
Fowler also identified the New Orleans Saints as key runner-ups for MVS, noting they were “in heavy pursuit” of MVS and largely considered the favorites to sign him with a two-year offer on the table. The Chiefs, however, undermined them in the “final hour” with a three-year contract that secured his services for their offense next season.
The Saints’ interest in signing Valdes-Scantling isn’t all that surprising given their need at the position. While Michael Thomas is coming back for the 2022 season along with Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris, there is a startling lack of depth at the position that could be immediately corrected with the acquisition of a veteran or an early-round rookie in the 2022 NFL draft. The Saints do have the No. 18 overall pick in the draft, but they might consider investing in a quarterback if the right one is available at that spot.
Could Packers Trade for Another Veteran WR?
There were multiple reasons why having back Valdes-Scantling would have been appealing for the Packers. He has built a strong connection with Aaron Rodgers over the past few seasons and is acquainted with the offense. Despite injuries setting him back in 2021, he also looks ready for a bigger offensive role and would have had the room to get a higher volume of targets without Adams in the mix.
Now that he is no longer on the menu, though, could another trade help the Packers solve their receiver troubles?
The Packers and Chiefs both recently placed calls to the Seahawks about the trade availability of Pro Bowl wide receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, per Snapback Sports’ Jack Settleman. He also said the Seahawks were “listening to offers” on their receivers, which could mean the lane is open for the Packers now that the Chiefs have signed Valdes-Scantling and are less likely to take a big swing at the position.
If not Lockett or Metcalf, there are other veterans worth a call for the Packers. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, teams have shown interest in trading for Miami starter DeVante Parker this offseason, but it remains “unclear what the Dolphins will do with him.” He has two years left on an affordable contract and has been an above-average contributor in spite of Miami’s quarterback woes, meaning he could take the step to the next level with a future Hall of Famer like Rodgers.
Several veterans are also still free agents, including Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, Will Fuller V, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, A.J. Green and Cole Beasley.