Packers Urged to Sign Deep Threat to Bolster Crowded WR Group

Rodgers Response Arkush

Getty Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on January 02, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers have a boatload of wide receivers on the roster, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the team has everything it needs at the position.

Green Bay listed 12 wideouts on its depth chart as of Friday, May 6, per ESPN. However, the three projected starters include Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and rookie Christian Watson, who was selected early in the second round of last weekend’s NFL Draft. The Packers certainly aren’t lacking players at the position, but they are lacking top-end talent.

The talent to replace Davante Adams, who was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders in March, as a true No. 1 pass catcher doesn’t appear to be readily available on the free agent market and can likely only be accomplished by way of a trade. However, if the Packers can’t or won’t make a deal to try and replace Adams’ production with one big-name playmaker like Deebo Samuel or DK Metcalf, they can turn to the free agent market to address at least one attribute their current crop of wide receivers is lacking — a legitimate deep threat to stretch opposing secondaries.

“Certainly, if you look at our roster right now, we definitely need to get some speed in that room,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said during an interview at the NFL owners’ meetings in March. “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.”

Green Bay is still without the speed LaFleur expressly identified as a need within the position group, but the Packers could change that by bringing in free agent Will Fuller on a one-year, value contract.

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WR Will Fuller Can Stretch Field For Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

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)

Michelle Bruton of Bleacher Report laid out an argument for the Packers’ signing of Fuller to a one-year contract under their current financial constraints in a piece published on Sunday, May 1.

The Packers, who lost No. 1 wideout Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason, had a clear need at the position heading into the draft. They addressed it, trading up to select North Dakota State’s Christian Watson at No. 34 overall and drafting Nevada’s Romeo Doubs in Round 4.

However, those two players will take time to develop in the Packers’ offense, and the team is ready to win now. Plus, we all know Aaron Rodgers demands a certain level of trust with his receivers before he’ll target them in meaningful ways. Another veteran would ensure Rodgers has an option on the field to whom he’s comfortable throwing.

The Packers have $14 million in available cap space, but their effective space is much lower. They’ll have to allocate about $9.3 million to their new draft picks. And currently, under the Rule of 51, only their top 51 contracts count against their cap; Nos. 52 and 53 will come due in September.

Within those parameters, Will Fuller is an option that doesn’t break the bank. After seeing action in just two games in 2021, he isn’t likely going to command a repeat of the $10.6 million (with $10 million guaranteed) Miami paid him last year. The 28-year-old will have to accept a one-year prove-it deal, and that would work out well from Green Bay’s side, too, as the team develops its new young guns.


Fuller Has Been Deep Threat For Entire Career, Even Despite Injuries

Will Fuller V, Houston Texans

GettyWide receiver Will 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 missed a total 27 games during five seasons with the Houston Texans to begin his NFL career. He joined the Miami Dolphins in 2021 but suffered a broken finger that limited him to just two game appearances.

Despite an injury history that has held him to 11 games played all but once in his six-year career, Fuller has been an effective downfield target. He’s caught 213 passes for 3,136 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. Beyond that, Fuller has averaged more than 15 yards per reception in three of his six years as a professional.

While the Packers would assume a considerable measure of risk were they to sign Fuller, his injury history will also keep him less expensive, providing more value to the contract.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) projected a one-year deal worth $7 million for Fuller heading into the offseason. However, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs worth $3.3 million in base salary and incentives that allow him to make up to $10 million next season.

Considering their comparative ages and production levels, PFF’s calculations on Fuller may actually be high, at least in terms of guaranteed salary, making him reasonably affordable for Green Bay when considering his upside.

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