Packers Linked to Big-Play Wide Receiver, Former 1st-Round Pick

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers

Getty Marquez Valdes-Scantling #83 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the second half against the San Francisco 49ers in the game at Levi's Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers need to find a way to stretch defenses next season, and they might be able to do it at value with a former first-round pick.

After trading away All-Pro Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and losing free agent Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Kansas City Chiefs last month, the best two wide receivers currently on Green Bay’s roster are the recently-tendered Allen Lazard and veteran Randall Cobb. Packers brass is fully aware moves need to be made to add talent to the position group, which head coach Matt LaFleur spoke about last week at the NFL’s owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida.

“Certainly, if you look at our roster right now, we definitely need to get some speed in that room,” LaFleur said. “We need a legit guy that can take off the top of the coverage. We lost a guy that was pretty good at doing that.”

One such player whose skill set matches what LaFleur said the Packers need is free agent speedster Will Fuller V, who will be signed sooner than later by an NFL franchise at what is likely to prove an affordable price.

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report wrote on Saturday, March 26, that Fuller represents a bargain for Green Bay the team ought to strongly consider.

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Fuller Would Add Deep Threat Element to Packers Offense

Will Fuller V, Houston Texans

GettyWill Fuller, formerly of the Houston Texans, makes a reception for a touchdown as he slips behind Terrance Mitchell of the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Fuller was drafted by the Houston Texans with the 21st overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. While he has struggled to live up to his draft position, the lighting-fast wideout has always proven a legitimate deep threat.

Fuller hauled in 24 touchdowns over five seasons in Houston and boasts a career yards per reception average of 14.7. He came into his own in 2020, the last season he was paired with quarterback Deshaun Watson, catching 53 passes for 879 yards and eight touchdowns in just 11 games played, per Pro Football Reference.

Health has always proven the issue for Fuller, who missed 27 games during his five years with the Texans. The wide receiver signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2021 but suffered a broken finger early in the season that kept him sidelined for all but two games.

Fuller’s injury history makes him a risk for the Packers in free agency, but it should also make him cheaper. A broken finger is more of a freak incident than a chronic issue to worry about moving forward, so if Green Bay can be convinced that Fuller can stay on the field for much of the season, his price might represent solid value with two-time reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers throwing the football his way.

Fuller’s Price Likely Similar to Smith-Schuster’s in KC, Analyst Says

William Fuller V, Miami Dolphins

GettyWide receiver Will Fuller, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, warms up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

Knox compared Fuller’s free agent value to that of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, formerly of the the Pittsburgh Steelers, who signed with the Chiefs in late March.

“[Fuller] carries a lot of risk, and Pro Football Focus projected a one-year, $7 million deal for him,” Knox wrote. “Considering [Smith-Schuster] only got a one-year, $3.3 million pact from the Kansas City Chiefs, PFF’s estimate is likely high.”

While Smith-Schuster’s guaranteed money is just shy of $3.3 million, he can earn around $10.75 million with incentives. Should the Packers sign Fuller, his contract may have a lower base but would also likely be incentive-laden. That sort of agreement could benefit both parties. If Fuller stays healthy, a quarterback of Rodgers’ caliber is likely to help him earn most, if not all, of his money. If Fuller is again bitten by the injury bug, the Packers have some built-in protection.

It is also the sort of deal that makes sense for a team with approximately $15 million in cap space, per Over The Cap, that is looking to add multiple pieces on offense. Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst noted last week that several additions to the wide receiver group will likely be called for this offseason considering the loss of Adams to the Raiders.

“To replace a guy like Davante Adams is gonna be kind of a multifaceted approach,” Gutekunst said. “It won’t be like a singular guy.”

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