With free agency inching closer and closer, teams are busy self-scouting and working to improve their rosters. After covering the defensive line and inside linebackers, let’s jump to the other side of the ball and look at the pass-catchers. Both the wide receiver group and tight ends have struggled and underperformed overall in 2019. With many of the packers own either hitting the market or not expected back, there should be some new faces in Green and Gold for 2020. Here are the Potential Packers Free Agents: Pass Catchers.
Before we begin, let us take a look at what the Packers will be losing this offseason.
Out the door
TE: Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis
WR: Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow, Ryan Grant
It looks like the Packers are releasing Jimmy Graham, as reported by Adam Schefter. Also, Marcedes Lewis is a free agent and expressed interest in going another round. However, at the prime age of 35, the odds might be stacked against him. Still, the Packers could potentially keep him in 2020, at the right price.
Geronimo Allison really struggled last year and shouldn’t be brought back, at least not at a high cost. Ryan Grant couldn’t find the active roster after being acquired via trade from the Raiders. Of those two, Allison is likelier to return (even though that may not be very likely).
On the roster
TE: Jace Sternberger, Robert Tonyan (ERFA)
WR: Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Darrius Shepherd, Jake Kumerow (ERFA), Allen Lazard (ERFA)
Jace Sternberger was a 3rd-round pick last year and figures to have a bigger role going forward. He was hurt most of his rookie campaign and had an empty stat line when he came back. Sternberger did, however, score a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game, a contest where he also played fullback. He was praised for having a great work ethic but has a way to go before making a consistent impact on Sundays. Robert Tonyan is an ERFA but has a good chance of coming back. Even with a nice skill set and size, he never caught more than 2 passes in a single game. Inexperience and unknown are what the Packers have right now at tight end.
Looking at the wide receivers, Davante Adams is the guy. He’s a top-tier wideout in the NFL and, even with a less than desired supporting cast, he still produces. Furthermore, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard are both ERFAs, meaning that they will likely be back. Kumerow is a legend in the eyes of Packers faithful and came up with important receptions throughout 2019. Meanwhile, Lazard came up big in key moments and separated himself from the others behind Adams. The opposite could be said about Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He was fazed out of the offense as the season went on. Going into his 3rd season he needs to put it together.
Equanimeous St. Brown went down with a season-ending injury and that may have given him another opportunity for another training camp. Darrius Shepherd grinding out a nice preseason only to struggle when it mattered. Outside of Adams, it is safe to say the Packers need weapons at these positions.
Now, let us take a look at who these potential future Packers could be.
Austin Hooper TE
The biggest name on the market, Austin Hooper is young (25) and coming off back-to-back 70 catch campaigns. In 13 games last season, the sure-handed Hooper dropped only 2 of his 93 targets. A smooth route runner and able blocker, Hooper would not be a band-aid for the tight end position in Green Bay. He would be the long-term starter to pair with the unknown talents on the roster. The Packers are said to be involved with a likely bidding war once free agency opens.
Eric Ebron TE
After a pro bowl season in 2018, Eric Ebron had a mediocre 2019. An athletic move tight end Ebron is not a blocker. At 26, Ebron has value and can help in the passing attack but he might not fit what LaFleur wants in a tight end.
Tyler Eifert TE
In 2016 Tyler Eifert went off with over 600 yards and 13 touchdowns. In the next three seasons, he couldn’t find the field because of injury. Last year, he played in all 16 games but was used sparingly. He could be an option on a cheap 1-year deal, but this would be a band-aid type move.
Emmanuel Sanders WR
Turning 33 later this month Emmanuel Sanders showed no signs of slowing down. He has made a career as a complement #2 wideout that can take the top of a defense. Having been to three Super Bowls, he knows what it takes and brings vet leadership wherever he goes.
Robby Anderson WR
Once thought of a deep threat only guy, Robby Anderson has upped his game to become a well-rounded player. At 26 years old, Anderson might be looking for that big second contract. Maybe he finds that in Green Bay.
Breshad Perriman WR
Here is a mid-tier guy that might make the most sense. Breshad Perriman was a 1st-round pick of the Ravens in 2016. He struggled and was labeled a bust. After a short stop in Cleveland, he wound up in Tampa Bay. He didn’t do much there either until the last month and a half of 2019. Perriman went off down the stretch and showed off his big-play abilities. With his 20 yards per catch, he separated for any and all defenders. Maybe the light went on for him and he could be a bargain steal for Green Bay.
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The Packers need help and an infusion in the passing game. At tight end they would be wise to spend some money and get a proven starter. Hooper makes a ton of sense. At wide receiver they have options. With the upcoming draft loaded with wide receiver talent (more on that in the future) they could take a flyer on a guy like Perriman that wouldn’t break the bank. Surrounding Aaron Rodgers with as much talent at possible for the backside of his career should be a high priority for Green Bay.
Thank you for reading about potential Packers Free Agents: Pass Catchers. Be sure to stay connected with Full Press Coverage for consistently great NFL content.