Why didn’t the Packers invest in WR sooner?

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The Green Bay Packers will inevitably bolster the wide receiver room by September. However, the fact that they still don’t have a succession plan after trading Davante Adams shows just how much the lack of investment in the job affects the future of the offense. Since the Packers selected Adams in the second round of the 2014 draft, they haven’t used the top picks to create depth.

Under Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst during that stretch, the Packers drafted two third-round hybrid weapons — Ty Montgomery and Amari Rodgers — and a bunch of late-round darts. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was the only late-round pick with significant production.

Green Bay’s investment was shy outside of the draft as well. They signed Allen Lazard from the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad and traded a sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans for Randall Cobb to please Aaron Rodgers.

Low-level players aside, Green Bay’s only free agent signings have been Devin Funchess (who retired from the 2020 season and was cut during training camp in 2021) and Tavon Austin, a gimmick player who totaled 20 scrimmage yards for the team in 2020.

Story

Since Rodgers became the starting quarterback in 2008, the Packers have gone from one WR1 to another with aplomb. Greg Jennings was the WR1, and Donald Driver was the second option until 2012. But Jordy Nelson was drafted in 2009 and saw his role grow year by year, from WR3 behind Jennings and Driver to the best option in 2013 When the time came, Nelson was ready to step in.

The Packers drafted Davante Adams in 2014. Nelson began to decline physically and Green Bay cut him after the 2017 season, making Adams the primary receiver.

Missed opportunities

The 2020 draft might have been the Packers’ biggest opportunity to draft their receiver of the future. Gutekunst was reportedly high on players like Justin Jefferson and Brandon Aiyuk, but they were taken before Green Bay was picked at No. 30. So Gutekunst decided to trade up to 26 and select the quarterback Jordan Love.

Even if the Packers had kept their original choice, they could have signed receivers like Michael Pittman or Tee Higgins, players who could have contributed immediately as secondary options. Now they would have been ready to become WR1. The extra first-round pick in 2019 was also a missed opportunity as Gutekunst opted to trade for draft Darnell Savage. Still, good wide receivers were available in the original selection – Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown and DK Metcalf, for example.

Now what?

After trading Adams, the Packers have no top talent in the position. Cobb, Amari Rodgers and Allen Lazard are actors, but none of them are ready to be Aaron Rodgers’ main target. With extra draft capital and some cap space, Gutekunst will be forced to invest heavily – whether that’s signing guys like Julio Jones, Will Fuller and Sammy Watkins or drafting receivers in the first two rounds.

Still, it’s hard to guarantee they’ll be ready for immediate peak production, especially in the case of rookies. A year or two in the system with a lesser role would be essential, but it’s a scenario the Packers have abandoned due to their reluctance to invest in wide receivers.

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