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Alternative Options to Antonio Brown

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Alternative Options to Antonio Brown

As we inch our way closer to free agency, speculation begins to grow about who the Packers will look to add to improve their roster in 2019.  It is believed that the Packers will use their roughly $30 million in cap space to target one or multiple edge rushers and a safety.  

The market at edge rusher is definitely one of uncertainty because there is the risk that all of the premium free agents are given the franchise tag and remain with their current organizations.  If the market for a premium pass rusher ends up being completely barren, the Packers could look to invest some of their cap space to bolster the wide receiver position.  

The wide receiver position outside of Davante Adams came under a lot of scrutiny last season for their lack of production.  Many blamed the lack of production of the Packers offense on Aaron Rodgers for his inconsistencies and bouts of wildness, while others blamed the inexperienced wide receiving core for not running crisp routes and for not being on the same page with their star quarterback.  

There is no doubt that Aaron Rodgers play was not at an elite level at crucial times in 2018.  However, despite his struggles with inconsistencies, Rodgers still managed to deliver the ball to Davante Adams with consistency, helping him achieve career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.  Adams's career-high output could serve as evidence to support the offseason buzz throughout the organization that Rodgers simply did not trust his young wide receiving core.

Restoring consistency and productivity to the Packers offense could be as simple as adding a proven wide receiver or two in free agency.  If the Packers do decide to bolster their wide receiving core, they will have to target free agents who have both a proven and productive track record as well as a tremendous upside to grow in Matt LaFleur's offensive scheme.  

The speculation to this point in the offseason regarding the wide receiver position has revolved on acquiring Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers in a blockbuster draft day trade.  The reality is that the prospects of Brown actually coming to the Packers are slim to none because of the resources and draft capital that the Packers would have to give up to get him.  

The free agent pool at wide receiver certainly has some interesting options but many of the players that fit the Packers needs are in their late 20's or early 30's.  In my opinion, this limits the Packers in their pursuit of signing an impact receiver who has a proven track record who is still in their mid 20's.  Despite having limited options, I have identified three players who the Packers could sign for a fraction of the price that it would take to acquire Antonio Brown.  

Free Agents Options that the Packers Should Target at the Wide Receiver Position:

  1. Adam Humphries: Slot Receiver, Tampa Bay, Age: 26, 76 receptions 816 yards, 5 touchdowns.  Humphries could prove to be a suitable replacement for Randall Cobb as he has a proven NFL track record and will have just turned 26 heading into the 2019 season.  He has consistently put up productive numbers despite constant turmoil within the Buccaneers organization. Humphries could fill the role in the slot and duplicate the kind of production that Randall Cobb had in the prime of his career. Potential Contract Offer: 4 years $36 million, $18 million guaranteed 
  2. Devin Funchess: Outside Wide Receiver, Carolina, Age: 25, 44 receptions 549 yards 4 touchdowns.  Devin Funchess has served as Cam Newton's primary target during the last couple of seasons.  He is a player that brings a track record, experience, and upside.  Funchess will be entering his age 25 season in 2019 and would benefit playing opposite Davante Adams and having a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers throwing to him.  Funchess would no longer be the primary receiver in Green Bay so he could see slightly softer coverage giving him more opportunities to make plays.  Potential Contract Offer: 5 years $35 million, $20 million guaranteed. 
  3. Geronimo Allison: Outside Wide Receiver, Green Bay, Age 25, 20 receptions 303 yards 2 touchdowns.  It is not a secret that Aaron Rodgers trusts Geronimo Allison in big moments. This is shown by the way that Allison has received greater responsibility in the Packers offense as his targets and development have increased in each of the last three seasons.  Simply put, Geronimo Allison has a world of talent and the Packers are just waiting for him to have a breakout season.  The Packers will undoubtedly sign Allison to the restricted free agent tender of 1 year $2.04 million (fully guaranteed) and hope that he does not sign an offer sheet elsewhere.  If Allison does get an offer sheet, the Packers will then have the ability to match that contract to retain his services.  Projected Contract to Match: 5 years $25 million, $12.5 million guaranteed.  

These free agent options certainly will not create headlines nor will they be the players that you were hoping for, but, they will certainly fit the idea of the Packers acquiring young wide receivers that have a proven track record of production. This business model ensures that Aaron Rodgers will be able to put more faith in his wide receivers when he is delivering the ball.  

Sound Off: 

Let me know how you feel about the state of the Packers wide receiving core.  Do you think the Packers should stand pat and trust their young wide receivers to make "the jump" in year 2?  Do you think that they should acquire a big-time wide receiver of the ilk of Antonio Brown, or are there other options that the Packers should consider?     

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David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (42) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Call me crazy but I don't think they need to add a WR. I'm not saying they shouldn't if the right move is there in FA or the draft. But WR comes after RB, Tackle, Guard, TE on offense, and OLB, ILB, DE, FS, and SS on Defense, and possibly even after Kicker on special teams.

MarkinMadison's picture

I almost agree. I think there is room for a small quick-change of direction guy. Not sure I would spend much on that position given all of the other needs.

holmesmd's picture

Why does everyone think we need a RB? Williams and Jones are very effective and I’m sure they can get depth from the PS or late in the draft. Please stop with this narrative. It makes no sense.

Nick Perry's picture

Aaron Jones is one the most exciting RB's the Packers have had in YEARS, but he's also been hurt the last 3 seasons in a row dating back to his last season in college.

Williams is a decent RB but the Packers still need more DEPENDABLE depth. There's more than enough room on this team for Jones, Williams, and another RB that's more than PS worthy.

carlos's picture

Agree Nick. Running backs can take a beating. Nothing wrong with adding another decent back.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yep, MLF wants to run the ball and he'd gonna need more bodies at RB.

Since '61's picture

Agree Jeremy - plus Jones is good but he will not hold up as the primary ball carrier for an entire season. We need an Ahman Green or Dorsey Levins type who can give some punishment as well as take and utilize Jones as our change of pace back. Jones can be a game changer in that role but he is not a back that can pound at an opponent 20+ times a game and make it through 16 games and hopefully the playoffs as well. Thanks, Since '61

ShanghaiKid's picture

@holmesmd. Thank you, agree 100%.

Rak47's picture

You're kidding right? Jones has injured his ACL 3 times in 13 months and Jamal Williams is solid in several areas but is not a high end starter by any means. I'm pretty sure MLF doesn't want AR throwing 600 passes again this year and they're going to need more than a back who hasn't proven durable and yet to play an entire season [Jones], a slow twitch jack of all trades and master of none [Williams], along with some practice squad scrubs [insert ps scrub name here]. They need another back who can make defenses play honest like Jones when he's in there.

carlos's picture

Golden Tate. Sick of hearing about Brown. Nothing, but high priced trouble waiting to explode. Don’t care how hard he works or how good he is. Geronimo back is good also.

crayzpackfan's picture

I totally agree. I’m not concerned at all with signing or trading for a bank busting WR. Clear as much cap room as you can without being too crazy. Build the offensive line through (draft and FA), draft a quality TE ( hopefully one of the two Iowa kids), grab one stud on defense in FA and draft best available thereafter. Develop and then really load up for 2020.

ShanghaiKid's picture

WR is more thin than people are willing to admit. If Davante goes down for any stretch you’re going to see more of 2015. Loaded boxes and 1 on 1 outside with nowhere to go underneath due to flooded pass lanes. They need to add an outside WR.

sonomaca's picture

Packers lack a speed receiver, unless they think Davis can be that guy.

We’re talking about Aaron Rodgers here. He needs some options down the field. They tried to get Watkins last year. How about trading for John Ross?

Handsback's picture

MVS runs a 4.37 forty ESB 4.45 they have long speed not that quickness of Cobb. Maybe DeShaun Jackson quick and fast could be gotten.

carlos's picture

Would love Ross Sonomaca. Davis is always hurt. He has potential, but hasn’t proved his worth at wr.

jannes bjornson's picture

Wouldn't waste money on Davis.

sonomaca's picture

Cincy doesn’t seem to have a QB. If it’s still Dalton, they don’t have one who can toss it deep. So, clearly, they can’t yse Ross. Give them the 2nd 4th rounder.

Qoojo's picture

It seemed to me that a large portion of the time in the past two years, or longer, that the CB was glued to the packers WR due to simple routes. It seems like the league completely solved MM's offense, and it become predicated on Rodgers prolonging plays and his accuracy. As Rodgers' ability in both of those areas dropped due to injury and potentially age, the offense tanked.

I really do not see FA WR as a priority. I am happy to see what the current WRs can do in MLF's offense before dedicating more cap dollars to it.

carlos's picture

Quoojo, you’re right on I think.

jannes bjornson's picture

The talent at Wr was simply not there with Nelson out, Cobb faltering and zero WRs picked in the high rounds since Adams five years ago. Tate would be a guy to look at.

4thand10's picture

I would absolutely go get Devin Funchess if he is available. Strong and fast and I believe he is an improving player.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Tenders are not guaranteed at all. Teams have to tender their RFA by 4:00 pm on March 13, or the player becomes an UFA. If tendered, the tender amount immediately applies against the cap. The player has until April 14th to sign an offer sheet and then the team has 5 days (4-19-19) to decide whether to match the offer sheet. If matched, that offer sheet becomes a contract which might have guaranteed money in it. If no offer sheet is received, the player can be cut any time with no cap consequences.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

LOL.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Our WR's are fine and getting better! Pickup slot WR in FA or in 4th rd.

Ideally our first 3 or 4 draft choices are DL, OL and edge rushers. Only exception is that rare situation when a quality player falls that shouldn't be there.

Packer Fan's picture

I like Humphries. Brown is too expensive and troublesome. And I think we should bring back Allison. Cobb is too expensive and is on the decline. Rodgers needs good receivers, but not at the price of Cobb. And lot of the issue is the scheming of plays. MM had become too predictable that requires receivers to get themselves open. But rarely were defenders out of position for the offense was predictable. Better schemes, a better Oline and things will hum.

Just a thought. The last two years I remember all of you making comments that we had a great offense with lots of mismatches. Rarely were those thoughts bore out because MM didn't look at things that way. Just to show how much a good slot receiver makes an impact, just remember this years Super Bowl.

carlos's picture

The Lions claim to know most plays the Packers were going to run the second they lined up. I’m from Michigan and hear a lot of Lion stuff. My least favorite team of all 32.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm not opposed to adding Humphries but I AM opposed to spending $36 million, $18 million guaranteed for 4 years. The Packers have to fix the O-Line. Protecting Rodgers has to become MORE of a priority. At 35 he can't keep taking 50 sacks a year along with numerous hits.

mamasboy's picture

The article said these players won't make headlines. 36 million, 18 mill. guaranteed should result in a headline or two, I would think.

Tundraboy's picture

It has to be MLF's priority. It has to be.

sam1's picture

Cobb on team friendly contract is still a very viable player. Remember anyone gets hurt, Packers team year after year can attest to that! Wide receiver if affordable yes, but way too many other important holes need to be filled! i also agree for depth if not on roster now running back is necessity! Pack will need to fill lots of holes to even compete this year! Better get a QB because if Boyle isn't ready trouble on horizon!Rodgers days of injuries are with us, he has become a shadow of his old self health wise imo!

NashvilleCheesehead's picture

A.B.A.B!!!

AgrippaLII's picture

It's not going to matter whether or not the Packer's get an experienced WR in free agency if the problems with the OL aren't fixed...RG and RT specifically! This is where Gutekunst should set his sights and spend his money or his draft picks...whatever it takes!

Lare's picture

I think basing anyone's decisions on last year's WR's productions is pretty much a waste of time, that offensive scheme and all its coaches are long gone.

The Packers need to be looking at players that can be productive in LaFluer's offensive scheme, not McCarthy's.

LeotisHarris's picture

We're not talking alternatives, people. We're not talking options either. We're talking alternative options. Could we take a deep dive into alternative possible substitute options to Antonio Brown?

Packer Dave's picture

I would rather see the team throw a duffle bag full on money into a fire pit than sign Brown.

Let's draft Hock, Fant or Irv Smith Jr.

LeotisHarris's picture

I think I saw a promo for a show with that concept on the tee vee. People throw duffle bags of money at each other, at the host, then into a fire pit. Obstacle course-type thing. Lots of red, white, and blue on the set. Can't recall the name, but the panel of judges included Snoop Dog and Miranda Lambert. Should be good!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I'd love to sign a FA WR. I am having trouble finding the cap space, though.

albert999's picture

Draft Holyfield to help backfield
We have WR’s
Need fast slot guy

Spock's picture

Spend the money in FA on: OL, Edge and/or Safety. WR can be added in the draft, if Gute and MLF feel that's a need. Fix the OL and, hopefully, safety in FA and suddenly the draft has a lot more options for, say, TE. I'd still think an Edge (or two) needs to be drafted as well as this class is supposedly deep for that. WR for me is a MUCH lower FA priority with the limited cap money the Packers have. I would think Gute is going to have to look at more 2nd day type FA's and try to identify younger, cheaper, but possible up and coming players to help fill some of the roster holes prior to the draft.

PAPackerbacker's picture

There are more pressing needs than a WR. Rodgers needs protected. That should be a #1 priority. And the Packers need some help at rushing the QB and Safety. Rodgers needs to trust his receivers more. They were open many times and he chose to go long instead of taking what the defense gave him. Signing another experienced WR in FA would be good as long as they didn't command to much salary. But it should not be a top priority. The Packers have talent at WR and Rodgers has to throw the ball to them more instead of holding the ball to long and getting sacked. Maybe with new management will come new opportunities for the talent the Packers do have.

ShooterMcGee's picture

We certainly need a full time KR/PR that also can play at a position of need. Having a roster spot just for Trevor Davis when he brings no value at the WR position is such a waste. Anybody know the top returners in the upcoming draft?

jww061356's picture

How about Z Smith from Baltimore and/or Shaquille Barrett from Denver in FA along with Landon Collins @Safety and a Guard. Then draft EDGE, TE S(Naserly) OL and Andy Isabella from UMass for slot. If we need a veteran WR in FA, how about John Brown?

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