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Packers by Position Offseason Preview: Wide Receivers

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Packers by Position Offseason Preview: Wide Receivers

Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones. Photo by Corey Behnke of CheeseheadTV.com.

Over the course of the next several days Cheesehead TV will have a brief position-by-position offseason preview, taking a look at what's in store for the Green Bay Packers in free agency and the NFL Draft..

Overview

Jordy Nelson was everything the Packers could have hoped for in 2013 with only an injury to Aaron Rodgers keeping him from being more effective.

Solidifiying his deep-threat status, Nelson the NFL in catches over 20 yards. But that's not to suggest he's strictly a deep-threat. Nelson is a well-rounded receiver with evidence pointing to his production from the slot this past season when Randall Cobb went down to injury.

Speaking of Cobb, an unfortunate broken leg prevented him from having more of an impact in 2013 but was effective both before and after the injury.

When healthy, Cobb is one of the most versatile players in the NFL as a receiver, running back, return specialist and even emergency quarterback.

Both Cobb and Nelson have contracts expiring after next season, and being two of the team's most important players, it makes sense that the Packers would want to extend both of them before the start of the 2014 season.

Nelson, in particular, has been seriously underpaid for the past three season relative to his production ($3.15 million per season on average). Expect the Packers to show their gratitude to Nelson by giving him a generous extension sooner rather than later, and Cobb may not be far behind.

James Jones was also limited by injury in 2013, suffering what was reported as a knee sprain that kept him from missing two full games and slowed him down even upon return.

It was a steep drop for Jones in touchdown department after leading the NFL with 14 receiving scores in 2012, down to three this past season. Still, he's probably in the running for the best No. 3 receiver in the NFL. He'll be a free agent and it's a tough call whether to say he'll be back in Green Bay or not.

Jarrett Boykin emerged as a young player on the rise after making 49 receptions this past season despite not making any in the first four games. There's reason to believe he could replace Jones if he departs in free agency.

Myles White, Chris Harper, Kevin Dorsey, Alex Gillett and Sederrick Cunningham will all receive an opportunity to prove themselves in the offseason. It's very possible that not all five of them will survive until training camp.

 

Long-Range Free Agency Outlook

James Jones––In 2011, Jones expected to find more traction on the free-agent market, got almost nil, and returned to Green Bay on a modest contract.

In those three intervening years, Jones has been a productive receiver, but being three years older (currently 29), there may once again be limited interest in his services.

Given the money the Packers are likely to invest into Nelson and Cobb, there's probably not going to be much left over to offer Jones. All things being equal, they'd probably welcome Jones back, but not if he finds a more generous offer in free agency.

As the saying goes, all it takes is one team to fall in love with Jones, and it's very possible he may go to where he feels he'll be more appreciated.

 

Long-Range NFL Draft Outlook

There's one school of thought that thinks the Packers must be well-stocked with receiving weapons at Aaron Rodgers' disposal lest they waste the quarterback's years in his prime.

Calls for another young, talented wide receiver might only get louder if Jones departs in free agency.

However, what happens at the tight end position may have an impact on what type of weapons the Packers look to add to Rodgers' disposal.

Depending on the fate of Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless (both free agents), the Packers may consider looking at a top-flight tight end prospects in the NFL draft in lieu of a top-flight wideout.

Even if that's the case, it won't necessarily preclude the Packers from adding a wide receiver in the mid to late rounds of the draft.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (72) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

"Both Cobb and Nelson are two years away from free agency..."

I thought 2014 was both of their final year.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Read into it as the new league year not starting until March 2015.

Evan's picture

I see.

Technically true, but still confusing.

Makes it sound less urgent than it really is - both are entering their final years.

John's picture

that is what he said

RC Packer Fan's picture

correct. Both are Free Agents after the 2014 season.

RC Packer Fan's picture

WR position for me is a position that I think they need to draft a WR maybe in the middle rounds. Luckily this is a very deep class of WR's.

One thing that could possible be interesting, If the Packers were to get a 3rd round compensation pick for Greg Jennings, and used that pick to draft a WR. Would be kind of interesting.

With Nelson, Cobb both set to be free agents after the 2014 season, and the possibility of losing Jones this year, the WR position will need to be restocked.

I am still intrigued with Harper and Dorsey though. I would have liked to have seen Charles Johnson stay and be developed. But that happens.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I wouldn't expect the Packers to receive the highest compensation for Jennings. He didn't receive top dollar from the Vikings and wasn't a Pro Bowl performer either.

Evan's picture

5 year, $45 mil isn't "top dollar"?

10th highest total value, 11th highest annual salary, 10th highest guarantee.

http://overthecap.com/top-player-salaries.php?Position=WR

Brian Carriveau's picture

No, 10th at his position isn't "top."

Evan's picture

Interesting.

Is that your opinion or are there official guidelines for compensatory pics? Like, has to be top 5 contract or something?

Because, personally, especially when it comes to WRs, I'd say 10th highest is certainly "top."

Brian Carriveau's picture

Teams that received the highest compensation were teams that lost free agents who signed contracts averaging more than $10 million per season, such as Julius Peppers, Namdi Asomugha, etc.

There are no official published guidelines for comp. picks, just basing it off previous seasons. And it doesn't have to do strictly with money. It didn't help that Jennings wasn't a Pro Bowl type of performer either.

RC Packer Fan's picture

So based on previous years of compensation, what do you think the Packers will get for losing Jennings and Walden?

I was guessing either 2 picks or 1 higher one. I was guessing like a 4th round and a 7th, or 1 - 3rd.

Something like that.

Evan's picture

Gotcha.

Thanks, Brian.

Brian Carriveau's picture

My prediction is that the Packers will receive a fourth for Jennings and a sixth for Walden.

They don't combine players into one higher pick. You get one for each, assuming you don't sign any free agents. And this particular year, the Packers didn't. Seneca Wallace doesn't count.

L's picture

So it doesn't matter that the Pack actually did sign a FA if that FA didn't make the 53 to start the season?

IowaPackFan's picture

Aren't the comp picks based on both free agents lost (including their contracts, games started, performance, etc.) and then compared to who we brouhgt on with the same metrics?

Thus, I think if you throw everything together, it's entirely possible we get a 3rd round in compensation for the loss of Jennings, Walden (who got a nice contract with the Colts, and started most if not all games) and Zombo who got some playing time at the end of the year. Who did we end up bringing in that would offset those losses?

If we don't get a third round, I am guessing we'll get a 4th round and perhaps a 6th or something.

Brian Carriveau's picture

As I explained in an earlier comment, they don't combine players into one higher pick. And Zombo won't count in the equation.

Arlo's picture

Packer Fans are going to be a little dismayed when the Packer's own UFAs fly the coup. The Packer's will be replacing a slew of experienced players with more & more late round draft picks & UDFAs. If you thought 2013 was a season of confusion, watch out --- 2014 is going to be brutal.

No way JJ spends another season in the G&G. Raji is gone. I'm not sure that a Florida native like Sammy will even re-up with the Pack.

RC Packer Fan's picture

'Packer Fans are going to be a little dismayed when the Packer’s own UFAs fly the coup.'

So, are you or are you not a Packers fan? Just want to know if you truly are a Packers fan or not.

Arlo's picture

Packer Fan, I've lived in the shadow of Lambeau Field my entire life. How about you? Ever been in Wisconsin or to a Packer game? -- Didn't think so.

BTW, I make my posts simple enough for everyone to comprehend, including you.

Agree? --- Of course you do, as usual.

murphy's picture

You didn't answer the question.

Arlo's picture

I don't need to. It's implied.

murphy's picture

It's not implied based on any of your responses.

You are another Cowpycat troll. You're like his grammatically challenged sidekick.

RC Packer Fan's picture

No, I don't agree with you because your making all the accusations about me that aren't even close to being true...

I live in Wisconsin. Never been to a Packer game. Which is ok. I go up every year and watch training camp practice.

I asked you a simple question, if you were a Packer fan. If your a Packers fan why do you like to come here and hate on other Packer fans?

I'm glad you 'dumbed yourself down' because I didn't think anyone could be that dumb...

Arlo's picture

Extreme homers make all Packer fans look bad. Intelligence (even football intelligence) comes from analyzing anything objectively.

Believe me, you couldn't run with my crowd. They're hard-core & emotional Packer Fans who insist that reality rules. --- All the excuses & redoing history are verboten.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yah, me trying to be nice and talk to you....

So its pretty obvious your not a Packer fan, exactly what I thought.

Your crowd huh? Is that the stuffed animals and dolls you have in your mothers basement all sitting around a table 'having a tea party'? Is that the crowd you run with? If so yeah, I don't want any part of that...

And what the hell are you talking about? I mean seriously.

Your the guy out there pissing into the wind.

Arlo's picture

Come on RC---
Now you're only embarrassing yourself. Sorry, but I'll have to ignore your posts in the future. Seems like a waste of my time.

RC Packer Fan's picture

The only thing I'm embarrassed about is actually responding to you.

Arlo. Do the rest of us a favor and leave. No one here likes you, no one here wants to hear your random gibberish crap.

You are wasting your time. Because no one here actually cares about anything you have to say...
So do us a favor. Leave!!!

Arlo's picture

Go back & re-read the posts. I posted nothing except my opinion regarding free agency. You immediately questioned by fandom. (So, are you or are you not a Packers fan?)

Who's the troll here? --- You are.

Buster's picture

This is exactly what RC has done to me also. If he doesn't like what you say, he questions whether or not you're a fan. That's his MO.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, that's my MO... After both of you come attacking me, I question your intentions...

Buster, I got pissed at you 1 time for something that you said. Get over it, I have...

Arlo. You come after my posts non stop. I come and question yours and all of a sudden I'm a troll.. ok. believe what you want in fairy land...

Ask anyone here who the Trolls are, I guarantee your name will be at the top of the list ARLO...

Buster's picture

RC
You need to hyper down abit. Arlo posted about free agency. You questioned him about something completely different. Like it or not, what you did is what trolls do.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Arlo, glad to see you have your brother/father/mother/aunt/uncle/grandfather? helping you out.

Buster, I have not beef with you. Other then the 1 time you pissed me off and I let you know it...
Seriously, get over it.

Arlo comes to ever post and posts crap about someone and usually never about the actual topic.

So I simple asked if he was a Packers fan or not. So I guess that makes me a troll because I asked a troll if he actually liked the Packers...

The reason why I asked the question was because his first line ‘Packer Fans are going to be a little dismayed when the Packer’s own UFAs fly the coup’ doesn't sound like a Packer fan's comment.

Buster's picture

I can read. No need to waste more bandwidth. You might want to consider a hiatus from posting anything.

Get over it. Not all are going to agree with what you think.

Al's picture

I can see you all really like each other. But seriously this is getting awkward...

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

i once ate a whole piece of paper.

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

but seriously - to paraphrase a guy with a sense of humor you 2/3 seem to lack presently - "this (post) needs an enema!"

Phatgzus's picture

I drank a lava lamp once; it wasn't cotton candy like the man told me.

Phatgzus's picture

So you either have to have been to Lambeau Field or live in Wisconsin to be a true Packer fan? That makes sense.

THEMichaelRose's picture

Wonder how much money the Packers effectively saved with Cobb shelved for so long. Perhaps his camp won't want an extension, waiting until after he proves he's worth more.

Since the Packers didn't draft a WR last year (until way too late for it to matter), I fully expect one to be taken somewhere around the 3rd round, if not much sooner for the right guy.

And as much as I like Finley, I don't know if he can come back, or if he does come back, if he can be healthy and effective.

I think I'd be fully behind picking Ebron or Amaro in the 1st round. Though, the way-too-early mocks have Ebron (to me, the much more interesting prospect) as a consensus top-15 guy.

Tarynfor12's picture

"Wonder how much money the Packers effectively saved with Cobb shelved for so long. Perhaps his camp won’t want an extension, waiting until after he proves he’s worth more."

Cobb proved his value long before the injury and immediately on his return.from it.If his camp feels he still needs to prove something,he needs to get a new camp counselor.

BradHTX's picture

"If his camp feels he still needs to prove something,he needs to get a new camp counselor."

Bravo, Taryn!

Tarynfor12's picture

A quick scan of the WRs on the roster shows that we have no one the size of Nelson 6'3' 217 lbs....give or take.The fact that he is a FA after 2014 and his age should have us looking for another of that caliber...Brandon Coleman,Donte Moncrief and a small school guy from Saginaw Valley Jeff Janis may be the steal in the mid-late rds.

RC Packer Fan's picture

This draft has a number of 6'3 or taller WR's.
I like Coleman. I have seen he is projected in rounds 2-4 area. If they were able to get Kelvin Benjamin in the 2nd round I would really, really consider it. He kind of reminds me of Alshon Jeffrey who was also a 2nd round pick.

I would love to see them draft a tall WR like Coleman say in the 3rd round or so.

A guy later in the draft I like is Martavis Bennett from Clemson. He is tall (6'5) but is a bit slender. More of an AJ Green build.
Another guy I really like is Matt Hazel out of Coastal Carolina. He is 6'3, and seems to have very good hands. He is playing in the East/West Shrine game so I want to see how he does with bigger competition.

I know WR isn't one of the greatest needs on the team, but adding a big WR could compliment the rest of the WR's nicely.

murphy's picture

If you have to ask...

Arlo's picture

The blog's well written about a pertinent topic with a pic of GB's soon to be ex-WR JJ.

Why post at all if this is all you've got?

Packman's picture

I am the biggest Packer fan in west Michigan was featured on wotv8 grand rapids mi just before packers won XLV...have a brick in front of Lambeau (4th section from the statues) west Michigan packer backer mike Kathan...just wanted all you bickering so called fans that living in Wisconsin or green bay has nothing to do with bleeding green and gold...Go Pack Go!!!

4thand1's picture

Have a brick too and stock. Its my team, lol. Bought the brick in memory of my parents. Been to many Packers games starting in the 70's. Saw the 1st Lambeau leap, MNF Packers 48, skins 47. The blizzard bowl Pack shut out Tampa. Those are some of the most memorable. Seen some real duds in the 70's. Saw Walter, Eric Dickerson, John Brockington. Man am I old. Oops almost forgot Barry, besr RB ever.

Packman's picture

Cant wait for next year only one play from beating SF with backup linebackers no Heyward, Bulaga, Finley among others...see big things for 14! Go Pack Go!!!

RC Packer Fan's picture

not just back up linebackers. Back up linebackers that were hurt also.

That last run by Kaepernick you could clearly see that Mulumba was injured. Limping after him on a sprained knee.

Hank Scorpio's picture

Age tends to hit speed WRs harder than it hits stronger ones. James Jones would be the latter so I'm not as wary of his age as I might be with someone else.

Having said that, the makeup of the roster and the cap put his max deal at right around a repeat of his last one, IMO. They do have other WR weapons in Nelson, Cobb & Boykin. TE would seem like more bang for the cap/draft buck. And, above all else, they must fix the back middle of the D (S & ILB).

cLowNEY42's picture

JJ's gone.
Cobb will get extended.
Nelson will be gone after his contract's up... they won't be able to afford both him and Cobb (and Cobb's younger w/ more potential).

A WR will be drafted higher than expected.

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

i disagree - i think if jj goes, they make nelson a very high priority -- rodgers will not be happy if he loses both nelson and jj, and i think that matters.

aside from that, he just feels like the kind of player who will stick around. i know that sounds naive, but it's a gut feeling.

nelson is obviously a security blanket for any quarterback. could have something to do with the fact that he'll catch anything thrown within 5 yards of him.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

cLowNEY, This is a reply to you, but I'm sure many of the other experts on here will jump all over it. I don't want to see another Good GB receiver wind up on the Vikings. James Jones has plenty left in the tank,& we Do Not have that many good receivers, that we can let him go.
Last year, I said to cut Hawk & Finley, so we could keep Jennings. You all jumped all over that. What did it get you?? NOTHING!! I'm going to say the same again!! Cut Hawk & Finley, & resign James Jones. GB will be losing Absolutely Nothing, while keeping a Damn Good receiver who has a number of Good Years left. Go ahead now, Jump all over this. I was right last year. If GB lets JJ get away, it's a mistake, especially, when they have so many others, they'd never miss. Hope JJ's in GB next year.

Evan's picture

How in the world did you come to the conclusion that you were "right last year"?

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Well, It's very simple. Finley & Hawk were both NON-FACTORS. We would have had another Great Receiver with Jennings. That's how I was right. Hawk & Finley contributed Nothing to GB this year. I don't want to argue with you. PLEASE!! Cut your losses on Hawk & Finley, & let's not let another Good Player get away. As far as being right last year, Hawk could have been gone this year, & you would have never known the difference.

Evan's picture

The play of Finley and Hawk has nothing to do with the fact that the offense, and the WR production especially, was not an issue all season. "Another great WR" would hardly have had much of an impact last season.

To say nothing of the impact that a 5 year/$45 million contract would have on the Packers ability to re-sign Shields, Nelson, Cobb, etc...

(I would also argue that while Hawk is hardly a star, his absense would most definitely have been felt.)

RC Packer Fan's picture

Why would they have to cut Hawk?
(Finley is a FA).

Whether they keep Hawk or not, that has absolutely nothing to do with James Jones.
If they want to resign Jones they can. They don't have to cut Hawk to keep Jones.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Ok, You're right on that. Trade him, if anybody will take him. Free up whatever $$$$ you can & sign JJ.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Actually, If 100% healthy, I'd like to resign Finley to a 1 or 2 year deal as well, but not anywhere near 8 million a year. I think he's worth keeping at the right price, if he's cleared to play. He's still young enough to turn into the Great tight end, he thinks he is.

Stroh's picture

Sign James Jones? Why bother! Decent WR, but Boykin is just as good and cost ALOT less. Let Jones go unless he signs for vets minimum or 1M per. Draft a WR in 3rd or 4th and let him develop for a year. Jordy and Cobb are the guys we NEED back, not Jones!

mark's picture

Much as I love the guy, I think James Jones is 200% gone. Assuming that happens, I'd like to see the Packers handle it with either (or both) of the following two scenarios.

1) draft Jeremy Gallon with a mid-round pick and move Cobb outside. Dude catches everything https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjJ1Qp1lA6M ...and more than anything he GETS OPEN. Peyton has Welker, Brady has Amendola. Gallon could be that for Rodgers. The size of the target doesn't necessarily matter for an accurate QB like Rodgers. Just get him a guy who can get open. That's Gallon.

2) draft Jarvis Landry. Stud. What do I mean by stud? This: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HtPL6XxEsw - and Mettenberger throws meatballs. Hard to imagine Landry with a guy like Rodgers throwing darts. My dream scenario is that the Packers snag Calvin Pryor at 21. But I won't complain if that pick is Jarvis Landry.

Stroh's picture

Cobb is already that for Rodgers, and he's among the best at it! Why waste a draft pick to take Cobb out of the role that suits him best?! Makes no sense. Give me a WR w/ some size and speed.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

EVAN, Come on now?? I agree with much of what you said $$$ wise, but we certainly could have used a healthy Greg Jennings, especially during ARods absence. With Cobb going down, you don't think we could have used another Great receiver. I disagree with your assessment on Hawk. IMO he falls way short of what we need. Nick Barnette was much better, so was Bishop. If I have to watch another season with Hawk in the middle, I'm going to throw a hammer through my TV.

Evan's picture

They had the 6th best passing offense in the league without Jennings (and without Rodgers for 1/2 the season). Maybe with Jennings they move up to 3rd or 4th. But so what? I don't think Jennings would have impacted the W/L column one bit.

As for Hawk, I agree, he falls far short of what we need. But that's not the point you originally made. You said "Hawk could have been gone this year, & you would have never known the difference."

That's just silly.

As every other LB succombed to injuries, Hawk was there. Maybe in your hypothetical scenario Hawk gets replaced by a high draft pick or FA, but with the roster as constructed, Hawk's absence would most definitely have been felt.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

EVAN I'm beginning to think, that I may need a New Seeing Eye Dog. I've Played the game. I know what it is to be a Running Back, & I know what it is to be a Linebacker, apparently, I wasn't very good.

Evan's picture

Haha. I don't think I know what that means but I feel like it might be you conceding the point. In which case, thanks for the nice chat.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

EVAN, It means that I don't agree with your opinion of A.J. Hawk. It means that I feel we need a much much tougher Linebacker in the middle, & A.J. Hawk is not the answer. I would hope it means that we are both Packer fans, & want what's best for GB. In all honesty, I believe A.J. Hawk has been over rated from the beginning, & remains so till this day. We can agree to disagree, but I feel until we become much tougher up the middle, we are going to waste the prime of ARods career. As much as you guys hate ClowNEY, HE IS RIGHT!! Just about the whole Defense needs changing, & IMO it starts with A.J. Hawk.

Evan's picture

"It means that I don’t agree with your opinion of A.J. Hawk. It means that I feel we need a much much tougher Linebacker in the middle, & A.J. Hawk is not the answer."

I never once argued otherwise.

I agree, Hawk is not the answer and the Packers do need an upgrade at ILB.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

EVAN, I'm not your enemy. Like you, I want GB to win SB'S. We will never have a better QB to do it. Our time is now. As bad as this team was at the end of this season, I believe we would have been the team to beat, had we got by SF. We are too good an offense right now to waste it. IMO we lost to the Best team in the playoffs with our second string. Yeah, I had money on GB. I believe we could be a dynasty with a defense. You will never see another ARod, in your lifetime. I could go on, but I'm sure you get my point. Don't let JJ get away. Put everything we can in our Defense. It starts up the middle.

Evan's picture

Totally agree.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

STROH, I disagree with you. We need JJ back. We need them all back. JJ is better than Boykin. Why break up the best receivers in the NFL. We've got players all over this league, that could still be with GB. If we're not going to change the Defense, let's at least keep what we have on Offense. Letting JJ go is a Mistake.

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