A former Green Bay Packers wide receiver is now looking to join his fourth NFL roster since the beginning of last summer’s training camp.
The New Orleans Saints waived sixth-year wide receiver Jake Kumerow on Saturday prior to their wild-card playoff game against the Chicago Bears, sending him to the waiver wire for the second time in less than a month after taking no snaps for the Saints.
Kumerow, who the Packers waived during September’s 53-man roster cuts, spent most of the season with the Buffalo Bills as a member of their practice squad. While he earned a promotion to the active roster in November, he caught just a single pass — a 22-yard touchdown in Week 15’s blowout win over Denver — despite playing in six games.
Kumerow had developed into a fan-favorite during his time in Green Bay and even acquired the nickname “Touchdown Jesus” for his recognizable beard, but his production between the 2018-19 seasons was underwhelming, to say the least. He caught 20 of his 32 targets for 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns over his 19 appearances for the Packers, touting an excellent 16.1 yards per reception but rarely getting involved.
Kumerow will now be subject to the waiver-wire process and, if he goes unclaimed, will become an unrestricted free agent next week.
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Packers Unlikely to Bring Back Kumerow
Kumerow was never the biggest star in the Packers’ receiving room, but his release before the 2020 season was still surprising to teammates and fans alike.
Wide receiver was considered a major position of need for the Packers after few targets truly distinguished themselves during the 2019 run. They had signed free agent Devin Funchess to add depth last offseason, but he opted-out of the 2020 season in July due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them with some undrafted rookie wideouts as their only newcomers at the spot.
While Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and Equanimeous St. Brown were considered locks to make the roster ahead of him, Kumerow retained the benefits of knowing Green Bay’s system and having a good rapport with veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who singled him out with praise just days before he was left off the initial 2020 roster.
“Jake Kumerow has been such a solid performer for us for the last couple of years,” Rodgers said on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Sept. 3. “I love his reliability. I think he’s a fantastic, steady player who’s very heady on the field. He makes plays, he plays with a lot of confidence and he’s a guy who you love having on the squad.”
Unfortunately, the Packers decided their resources were better invested elsewhere, keeping the aforementioned four on the roster along with second-year Malik Taylor — who has caught five of six passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. They also brought back wide receivers Darrius Shepherd and Reggie Begelton for the practice squad.
Now, the Packers wouldn’t stubbornly refuse to bring back a former player if there were legitimate value in it, but Kumerow’s time on other NFL rosters hasn’t yielded results that would make him a hot commodity. The Packers are also not hurting for receiving talent coming into their divisional-round game next weekend with Adams playing at an All-Pro level and MVS, Lazard and others finding a way to get things done.
Put simply: Don’t count on the Packers taking another look at Kumerow just because the 28-year-old receiver is once again available.
Will Tavon Austin’s Role Grow in Playoffs?
If the Packers do end up needing some receiving help in the postseason, there is one recently-added veteran who has yet to be fully worked into the offense: Tavon Austin.
Austin has caught just five passes for 20 yards in his four games for the Packers, but the majority of his looks have come on screen passes. Given he has produced 3,366 scrimmage yards over his eight-year career, there is obvious room for him to grow as a versatile weapon within the Packers’ system.
The problem with filling Austin’s plate with offensive responsibilities is how frustrating the Packers’ special teams unit has been throughout the season, particularly when punting. They rank 24th in average punting yards (44.5) and are one of just two teams that finished the 2020 season with two touchdowns allowed on punt returns. Austin himself also fumbled a punt in Week 17’s win over Chicago, one that was recovered by the Bears.