Don’t Sign a Wide Receiver

Why the Packers shouldn't sign a wide receiver before the start of the season. 

It’s hard to believe we’ve gotten to this point, but now is not the time to sign a free agent wide receiver.

Last Tuesday, Devin Funchess threw a wrench into the Green Bay Packers’ offseason when he decided to opt-out of the upcoming season. No one should blame him for putting his health first, but his absence won’t be as significant as you may think. In ideal circumstances, Funchess was expected to compete for decent playing time given the success he had in Carolina. However, he was coming off a broken collarbone that sidelined him for basically all of 2019. Even at full health, no one should have expected Funchess to put up big numbers.

Now that we know he won’t be playing this season; the loss feels somewhat exaggerated. Many assume the Packers will look to add another pass catcher as a replacement, however, that would be ill-advised.

This is not what Packers fans are used to. After years of not addressing the position via free agency, the best we finally got was Funchess. With him out of the picture, it only makes sense to find another receiver, right? Well, maybe not. Rather than find additional help for Aaron Rodgers, it’s probably best to stick with what they have and continue to nurture their roles within the offense.

Preparation for the 2020 season is going to look unlike anything we have ever seen. Players have already spent less time together, which could affect chemistry at the start of the year. Plus, no preseason games are only going to make things tougher.

No August newcomer is going to come in and gel with Rodgers right away. It most cases, that takes years.

Learning a new system in such a short time and having very few reps with Rodgers are two very large hurdles. Then, you have to look at what is out there. Guys like Paul Richardson and Taylor Gabriel are decent players, but neither is definitively better than say Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Equanimeous St. Brown. That means a free-agent addition would be fifth or sixth on the depth chart and getting dealt the very few meaningful reps that would entail.

Green Bay taking a risk on Josh Gordon or Dez Bryant is totally off-brand and should not be considered as a real possibility. Throwing ideas on the wall and hoping something will stick is not how you build a championship roster.

The Packers clearly like their guys, and it is justified. Without Davante Adams last season, they went 4-0 and the offense performed fine. Matt LaFleur’s offense doesn’t appear to need a ton of star power at receiver, either. It may help, but it isn’t necessary.

In the end, Green Bay will probably going to stick with what they have. Rodgers has good chemistry with Adams, Allen Lazard, and Jake Kumerow, and there have been times where St. Brown and Valdes-Scantling started to build something also. No guy coming off the street a month before the season starts will have much to say about that.

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (48)

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oceanstrength's picture

August 03, 2020 at 06:42 am

What a refreshing and novel thought.
Good journalism can actually be done without hype, controversy or group think, and with a few basic facts thrown in.
Thank you Brandon for considering that the Packers management might know more about team personnel than we do.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

August 03, 2020 at 06:46 am

We can certainly win games with the group we have. The question is can we go and win the Superbowl. I don't think so. We have needed to address the position in recent drafts such as; 2018 Anthony Miller round 2
instead of Josh Jackson, 2017 Cooper Kupp or Juju Smith Shuster round 2 instead of Josh Jones, .....the list goes on. The neglect is almost as bad as the ILB position.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 03, 2020 at 07:08 am

While I agree that a player won't come in and help right away, and they won't come in and be better then MVS, EQ and Lazard, I would argue they would be better then the players behind them. We need the depth for many reasons. I would much rather get a guy in to learn the offense now, then to wait until week 8 and we need a guy fast.

If they have the ability to bring in a quality player now, I would like them to do so.

There are a couple of other positions I would like to see them bring in as well. DL, OL, are 2 that I would like to see. I would like to see them maybe bring in Snacks and Velhdeer. Those are 2 guys I would like to see brought in.

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egbertsouse's picture

August 03, 2020 at 07:39 am

I don’t think fans are getting that MLF and Gutey don’t care about getting more receivers because they are trying to turn the offense into Tennessee Titans 2.0. Can you name the Titan’s top 3 receivers? I can’t. I just know Derrick Henry. He is the offense. Receivers are just considered downfield blockers.

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MrsGlynn's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:42 pm

Exactly! Well said. Even after watching the Titans make a post season run last year, the only standout I recall is Henry. I thought that LaFleur made this pretty clear last season when the complete new game plan and play calling. Well, new to the Packers. Not new to LaFleur. He didn’t change much at all, (unless you count players, zip codes, uniform colors... Sorry. I digress.)

There is zero level of interest within the front office to find wide receiver talent. Wasn’t that evident when they failed to draft even ONE in April, when they had multiple opportunities. to do so?

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dobber's picture

August 03, 2020 at 02:25 pm

"Even after watching the Titans make a post season run last year, the only standout I recall is Henry."

Remember AJ Brown was on a tear down the stretch for Tennessee last year...dominant at times even for a rookie. Teams bottled him up in the post-season, though.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 03, 2020 at 03:02 pm

Exactly. Tennessee had better WR/TE options than GB did last year. Adams and Brown were a wash, with Browns' ceiling being higher. But after that? Corey Davis and Tajae Sharpe could be counted on to be where they were supposed to be down the stretch. Not so with MVS and Allison. Also, Jonnu Smith is better than Jimmy Graham's corpse.

The only realistic hope we have for improved WR/TE play this year is Sternberger and ESB stepping up. I just don't think Begelton will make the team, nor do I think MVS has it.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 04, 2020 at 02:39 am

I suggested in an article signing Tajae Sharpe as a FA. Instead, MN signed Sharpe (74.2 pff grade) for $1M, with $675K guaranteed on a one year deal.

Aside from the standout in AJ Brown (84 pff), WRs Corey Davis (69.9), Sharpe, Adam Humphries (69.6) are all definitely NFL caliber players, as are TEs Jonnu Smith (72) and Anthony Firsker (69.4). Every one of the above was rated above average by pff. Delanie Walker (64 - average) was injured (played 7 games): I am not sure if age has finally caught up to him.

They look better and deeper than GB. It had a standout WR in Adams (84), plus Lazard (72.3), and MVS (57) plus Graham (58.0), and Lewis (71.0) and Sternberger (Inc.).

It could be decent players who were well-schemed. The Titans added an RB in the 3rd and took OT Isaiah Wilson to compete with Dennis Kelley (another guy I wanted in FA - he signed for $5.7M AAV) to replace Jack Conklin.

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stockholder's picture

August 03, 2020 at 08:19 am

I don't see a back -up plan here. While I thought the Funchess signing stunk. I wasn't surprised in the least of the opt out. Pin pointing a #2 out of this group is just ridicules. The impact of any of these Wrs is game to game. Just compare them to Lofton, Sharpe, Driver, Nelson, and Cobb. Tools; Rodgers needs Tools. It's the ingredient to a Super offense. It's everything. Avoiding better; shows us Guteys failure. The great teams in history had this covered. Judging these guys on how they look right now. Aaron Rodgers needs Help. Because were just one WR from a disaster. Using glue never works. And Running won't make up for the lack of game changers.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 03, 2020 at 08:25 am

Wow. What a novel idea. I wish I had thought of it several months ago.

Most of the WR targets will go to Adams. Some will be split among Lazard, MVS, and St. Brown. We will throw to the backs, just like last year, and the TE will get the remaining targets. An additional WR is superfluous.

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Handsback's picture

August 03, 2020 at 08:32 am

Very good Brandon, and think you are right about the wideouts. Earlier was a discussion on keeping 5 verses 6 WRs. They have an All-Pro in Adams and this team is going to be (if not already) a running team. Why have so many WRs when you will be running at most 3 WR sets less than 20% of the time? That's a guess on my part, but suspect that 3-WR sets will be used even less than that.

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Packers2020's picture

August 03, 2020 at 08:50 am

There really are no WR's that are worth signing currently.

Having said that, the Packers Offense desperately needs a #2 WR. Yes, they are looking at more of a run first Offense but you still need to pass in the NFL to win a Super Bowl. Our Offense averaged 23.5 pts per game last year. That is not good enough. What have we changed on Offense? Nothing. In fact, we lost a pro bowl caliber RT. AR will not have as much time to throw this year due that fact.

I am not trying to be negative or be doom and gloom here but the fact remains we did nothing to improve the Offense. And don't say we added Dillion and Deguara. We have no idea what they will do their first year and usually a 2nd and 3rd round pick takes at least a year or two to show anything.

What might be the saving grace for drafting Love over a WR is that we may not even play this year anyway and there was no off season or preseason so a rookie WR may have not have affected this Offense due to that fact.

We shall see.....

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dobber's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:46 pm

"I am not trying to be negative or be doom and gloom here but the fact remains we did nothing to improve the Offense."

I agree, if anything, the offense has potentially gone backward. Wagner is a step back from Bulaga in virtually all regards but cost. People whiz on Jimmy Graham and Geronimo Allison, but they both played almost 60% of the snaps. Some argue that anyone could do better than they did (I certainly didn't care for Allison and how he was used)...well, we're about to find out.

"And don't say we added Dillion and Deguara. We have no idea what they will do their first year and usually a 2nd and 3rd round pick takes at least a year or two to show anything."

Given that RBs tend to acclimate to the NFL much faster than other skill position players, I think Dillon is the lone plus-addition to this offense in 2020. I thought Funchess had that potential if he was ready to play.

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Bure9620's picture

August 03, 2020 at 09:02 am

I agree with the article. I think EQ brings a spark and Lazard plays well and solidifies the #2 role. They can win with what they have. Run the ball, 2 TE sets, play action.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 03, 2020 at 09:19 am

Lazard had an incredible year and will probably improve this year. We get ESB back. We do not “desperately need “ ma #2 WR. One more time: In this offense, the #2 WR is very much like a fullback. They are there to block most of the time and will get a couple of targets. And it’s a position where we save money that can be spent elsewhere.

The Order of Battle in the passing game is:

Adams
RBs.....Jones, Williams, Dillon.
TE
#2 WR.

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Packers2020's picture

August 03, 2020 at 03:30 pm

You do realize that Lazard is an UDFA? Go back and look at those WR's that have made the Packers rosters and had a decent year their first year. They go backwards the 2nd year or do not improve. They were an UDFA for a reason. Yes, they do need a #2 WR. Badly.

"One more time: In this offense, the #2 WR is very much like a fullback."

And this is why we only scored 23.5 points per game. If we did not have Aaron Rodgers, do you realize how bad this offense would be with this wide receiving core?

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Lphill's picture

August 03, 2020 at 09:27 am

Why is everyone forgetting about Reggie Begelton?

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Coldworld's picture

August 03, 2020 at 10:46 am

Not forgetting about him, but it’s not going to help his transition to the nfl either.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 03, 2020 at 11:04 am

Begelton is practice squad eligible. The rest aren’t.

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Bure9620's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:24 pm

He is PS eligible but he is also 26, I really think he needs to be a finished product at this age.....he is simply too old to be a developmental player......

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dobber's picture

August 03, 2020 at 02:39 pm

If Begelton doesn't make the 53, why would he accept a PS assignment?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 04, 2020 at 02:53 am

Every WR on the Packers' roster is eligible for the veteran's exemption to the PS, up to and including Davante Adams, and Marcedes Lewis for that matter.

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Demon's picture

August 03, 2020 at 03:32 pm

Because Begelton is so forgettable. Are we THAT bad that we pin our hopes on someone from the CFL?

Name a receiver besides Rocket Ismail that came from the CFL and did anything in the NFL. I cant think of anyone at all.

I have more hope for an UDFA from the U of Podunk than any CFL player.

Coming on here singing the praises of guys like that is just foolish homerism.

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Lphill's picture

August 03, 2020 at 08:24 pm

I guess you didn’t research him much .

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gene.chu@icloud.com's picture

August 03, 2020 at 05:20 pm

I also agree with the article. However, Brandon and everyone else is forgetting about the signing of Reggie Begelton, the CFL star receiver that, admittedly, no one south of the border knows much about. I have watched some of his games in the CFL, and thought that he actually has as good a chance as any new Packer to beat out some of the 2nd/3rd year guys for the #3 spot. He is a 3 yr veteran with exceptional route running skills and is sure handed. Not fast but quick. I really thought that he might be a better signing than Funchess. Go Pack!!

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greengold's picture

August 03, 2020 at 10:01 am

Gene, I feel the same way about Begelton. The guy is rock solid. I firmly believe that he not only makes this Packers team, but that he becomes a major contributor at WR for years.

He's got very deceptive speed. Knows where to go and gets there. Begelton gains separation at the line and shows the ability to make the tough catch. He's also a good blocker, versatile and effective as a runner out of the backfield and on reverses.

He's super talented. I really thought he might win the Slot WR position from Funchess had we a normal TC competition. Potential to be great value with this signing.

Plus, he's got the maturity of having played 2 seasons of pro football in the CFL. This kid will not get rattled. He seems very sure.

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Packers2020's picture

August 03, 2020 at 03:32 pm

I rest my case on why we need a #2 WR.

If Reggie Begelton from the CFL is your #2 WR at the beginning of the season then you have a WR talent issue.

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gkarl's picture

August 03, 2020 at 09:40 am

I think the FO is going to play wait and see with WR and other positions as well. If they were all that excited about the current FA available they would have made an attempt to sign them by now. Wait until the cuts start and final roster are set, there is a good possibility better options will be available then and potentially at a lower cost. Patience is more important than ever this year, to much uncertainty with how the season will unfold.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 03, 2020 at 09:42 am

"The Packers clearly like their guys, and it is justified."

I'm sorry, this is idiotic. Nagler was wrong last year. Our WRs suck post-Davante. They're a collection of athletic JAGs or worse, and MVS, who can't run a route or catch a ball at a professional standard.

I've beaten this drum all year long, with Funchess or without: Our WRs are a bottom 5 unit and it will hurt the team. It (along with the DL) are the two fatal flaws on this team that Gute (rightly) is just praying that young guys step up.

We absolutely should have another veteran WR on the team who can play at a pro level consistently. Now. And back in March.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 03, 2020 at 11:40 am

Blah blah...”our players suck”. Do you know any other songs?

Lazard, Allison, and MVS combined for 95 catches, 1300 yards and 8 TDs. I’d like to know which #2 is going to be an improvement on that. We replace Allison with ESB. They are young and cheap.

AND...in the four games without Adams, we went 4-0 with our “bottom 5 unit”, scoring 34, 23, 42, and 31 points. Lazard made a huge clutch catch to help win the Detroit game.

But keep beating that drum so that everybody knows you aren’t on board with Gutekunst’s plan for the team.

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Duneslick's picture

August 03, 2020 at 11:22 am

Your right it would be hard for 1 players to match the stats of 3 players

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Leatherhead's picture

August 03, 2020 at 11:41 am

Even if it was one full time guy vs. 3 part-time guys?

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13TimeChamps's picture

August 03, 2020 at 11:51 am

Don't ever 'denigrate' a Packer player or unit, or you will have the wrath of Leatherface to deal with.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 03, 2020 at 12:35 pm

I don't bother reading him anymore. There's about 5 posters who are in Bearmeat's "Fredo" category. It's a nicer CHTV experience. :)

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Leatherhead's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:18 pm

I love it when people admit they choose ignorance.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 03, 2020 at 02:47 pm

I read that comment. Unsurprisingly, it reeks of hubris and is massively hypocritical.

No. I choose not to read you because you insult people who don't agree with you, you pretend you have some sort of knowledge on what "1265" thinks, and in general, you choose to be insufferable.

Basically, I lose nothing by not reading you other than happiness. Have a nice life.

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13TimeChamps's picture

August 03, 2020 at 03:08 pm

I'd love to give that 10 thumbs up!

Most on here like to share their opinions. Others, like Leatherface, only deal in absolutes that are not even open to debate. "This WILL happen". "That WON'T happen". Disagree, and you're a "nitwit" or ignorant. Offer constructive criticism, and you're 'disparaging' a Packer player. Yet he turns around and mocks Cole Madison and the issues he had to deal with.

I think I'll heed your advice and just ignore his narrow minded comments from now on.

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MrsGlynn's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:49 pm

Thank you! I’ve been kind of shaking my head and thinking: “What?!?! We are HAPPY with our guys??” May I ask WHY?
“OH, wait, I KNOW! I guess we kind of have to be because we kind of forgot to draft any others. Ooops! I knew that we were forgetting SOMETHING after we drafted Jordan Love.”

I mean, he’s not going to need any first round talent, either, right?

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splitpea1's picture

August 03, 2020 at 02:40 pm

That top sentence had my head shaking, too. If the Packers were so satisfied with their WR depth, then why did they sign Funchess in the first place? After Adams and one-year revelation Lazard, there are nothing but a bunch of hopes and question marks, and that includes Sternberger as well. Some people seem enthralled with Begelton, but he hasn't even made the team yet.

The problem is there doesn't appear to be much in the way of instant help out there now, but the Packers should be keeping their eyes open nonetheless. Doing nothing when it's obvious you need an upgrade in a certain area isn't the way to build a championship roster, either.

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greengold's picture

August 03, 2020 at 09:53 am

Brandon, you forgot to mention Reggie Begelton.

Gutekunst doesn't care where he gets his talent, as long as they are good players, and that they bring value to the team, unless they are cost prohibitive. Reggie Begelton fits this Packers offense, perfectly, and signing him to a futures contract last January may prove to be a very solid move. We need the most help from the slot - especially with Funchess out. Begelton delivers. 6-0 200 4.53. Great route runner with equally great hands who owns the middle of the field and consistently adds RAC. Begelton is also a pure slot WR.

I'm a HUGE fan of Alan Lazard, who I think will win the #2 WR position outright with ease. As for that #3 WR spot? I'd like to think Reggie Begelton is going to be that guy. He's got "QB's Best Friend" written all over him.

Check out his lengthly highlights, and you'll see a strong, confident player with deceptive speed and accurate route running who always makes a play. He wasn't just a CFL player, but a CFL All-Star. The guy knows how to work the middle of the field from the slot. After viewing his highlights I couldn't help but think he's a mesh of Jordy and Cobb, in terms of route running, sure hands, stature, strength and reliability. "Toughness" was a quality I was hoping the Packers would add at WR this last draft. Reggie Begelton has that.

We'll see. Don't sleep on this kid.

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D.D.Driver's picture

August 03, 2020 at 10:23 am

The Packers urgently need to trade for Terry Glenn.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

August 03, 2020 at 12:41 pm

I actually like the Packers receivers group.

Weird.

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Rudedawg67's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:30 pm

Well it is probably true there isn’t anyone else out there right now they can help improve the wide receiving corps. That being said Green Bay somehow needs to address the issue. Last year Davante Adams caught 83 balls (missed 4 games) and the next receiver caught 35 balls. That was Lazard . If you put it another way that is an average of 3 catches a game because he didn’t play much the first 4 games so I just figured for 12 games. I feel good about the prospect either Lazard, ESB, MVS, or Begelton can somehow improve the production of the #2 receiver spot. If none of them can improve the #2 WR spot after about 4 games ( that‘s my arbitrary number, it maybe different for the rest of you) them I think Green Bay should try and get help elsewhere. If we had a better than average TE that could change how I feel but right we have 2 good prospects that aren’t proven yet. If one of them does we are going to be dynamic on offense.
It’s great that Green Bay wants to run the ball but when you get to the playoffs you’re going to come up against a team that can stop the run and you’ll have to be able to throw. The Titans are a good example that, they win their first round game only to run into a team with a tough run defense.
Unless you have a defense like a 2018 patriots what are the 2016 Broncos that can keep a game in the teens you won’t win a Super Bowl with a conventional running team. I have to say conventional because of Baltimore last year. We don’t have a defense like that yet, but we’re getting closer, so there has to be an adequate passing attack now if you want to win another SB now or you can just wait another year or two and then maybe you will have all the pieces in place.
The bottom line is that if we get more production from either the tight end or the number two receiver we’re going to the Super Bowl because San Francisco is not going to run over us again.

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PF4L's picture

August 23, 2020 at 07:39 pm

"The bottom line is that if we get more production from either the tight end or the number two receiver we’re going to the Super Bowl because San Francisco is not going to run over us again."

Stay thirsty my friend!!

BTW...our #2 receiver, was Aaron Jones with 49 catches. I know he isn't a wide receiver, but sometimes a point needs to be made.
We were looking at MVS or Allison being our #2 receiver going into last season, Lazard wasn't even on the radar. Now with Lazard showing some promise, most fans are going to hope he can break out. If he fails, we'll find another name or two going into next season to be our #2. Rinse, lather, repeat.....
As fans...we crown new players each season. Until we get one right.

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dobber's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:34 pm

The bottom line is that teams rarely get better by standing pat. The Packers already made an overture toward that in signing Funchess--clearly they thought he offered them something useful in comparison to the players already on the roster. Now, with Funchess deferring his contract to 2021, there's a little bit of found cap money there.

Sure, plenty of other potential commitments to take care of.

Sure, rollover is a real thing in light of what looks like a shrinking 2021 cap.

But that cap contraction is potentially slamming the door shut on this team window after 2020. What's the harm--if there's a guy you like at ANY position group, not just WR--in using that found cap space to test drive some player through camp...maybe another rebound candidate...maybe a vet who's been cut or is languishing on the market and could take a low-vet contract? The money isn't on the cap unless that player makes the 53...and that player just might save your season (such as it is).

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Oppy's picture

August 03, 2020 at 06:04 pm

A great time to sign FA wide outs will be after the new NFL salary cap kicks in and is significantly lower than what it is now.

Most teams will be semi-strapped for cash and looking to unload / not resign their talent.

A Team like the Packers could be one of the few with free resources, if they manage to unload Rodgers' prohibitive salary and clear that money from their books.

That'd be a great time to sign some top tier FA wide out.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 04, 2020 at 03:15 am

I would sign Josh Gordon if he is reinstated. He has five suspensions for substance abuse, but weed no longer is an offense that is subject to suspension: now it is just a fine. He was suspended a sixth time for violating team rules as well. More concerning are drunk driving issues.

Failing Gordon, there were a lot of wide receivers drafted this year. Some of them won't make their team, and some will displace veteran WRs at cut-downs.

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PF4L's picture

August 23, 2020 at 07:22 pm

Lets not pretend that Funchess was nothing more than a late cheap token signing by Gute to appease the fans who wanted a wide receiver.

What did we lose with him opting out?
A guy with a target catch rate of 52.8%?
A guy who has averaged 36 yards a game in his career?

If Gute was serious about giving Rodgers some weapons, he had two years, 2 drafts and 2 free agent periods to do it. Other than Funchess, he did nothing.

Outside of Mercedes Lewis who is used more as a blocker anyway, our other 5 tight ends in camp have a total of 6 NFL catches. Yes, you read that right.

Outside of Adams, we have one of the poorest group of wide receivers in the NFL.

And Rodgers is.....supposed to be excited about the offense? I don't know how Gute can look at Rodgers with a straight face.

But on the positive side, we have a 1st round player, picked 12th, sitting on the bench in case either of our high priced edge rushers need a rest. Forget about drafting a receiver or a tackle to replace Bulaga.....we needed a bench player at OLB.
We also needed a 2nd round rb because our present running back only had 19 TD's. So we had a need there more important than a receiver or tackle, or middle linebacker.

You may have noticed a slight detection of sarcasm in my post :)

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