Adams was just one of a handful of Packers wide receivers who faced free agency this off-season. Randall Cobb and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both entered the off-season as unrestricted free agents, while Allen Lazard is a restricted rights free agent.
The Packers already reached an agreement with Cobb, re-signing him to a new contract that included a pay cut to help Green Bay get under the salary cap. Green Bay also placed a second-round tender on Lazard, likely insuring that he returns to green and gold for the next season.
In the wake of the Adams trade, the Packers are reportedly very interested in bringing Valdes-Scantling back for 2022:
Don’t be surprised if a deal gets done with GB. #Packers have called and are very interested in bringing him back, a source said. Asked him to wait on making a decision. He’s been looking for one-year deal from $7-10M. https://t.co/PH6hZS11Sn
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) March 18, 2022
While Valdes-Scantling might be the obvious choice for a current Packers receiver to try and fill Adams’ shoes in the offense, do not sleep on an increased role for Lazard. Lazard has seen his role in the Packers’ offense increase over time, and last season he posted career-high numbers in games started, targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns.
A big debate in Packers Twitter at the moment is the idea of trust. Trust between Rodgers and his receivers. It is a big reason the Rodgers-Adams connection was so formidable, as the two knew exactly what the other was thinking. It is what made their ability to hit on back-shoulder throws nearly impossible to defend.
You see flashes of that chemistry on plays like this from last season, with Lazard running a double-move and Rodgers putting this throw to the back-shoulder, where only the receiver can make a play:
Whether Valdes-Scantling returns or not, you can expect a bigger role for Lazard in the Packers’ passing game. But that might not be the only solution to replacing the production lost by Adams, and the Packers might still need to look outside the building for additional help.
The initial wave of free agency is dying down, and now the real work begins.
While the splashy signings during the “legal tampering period” get the most attention, teams often do some of their best work during the secondary or even tertiary phases of free agency. Whether adding veterans who might be past their prime but still have something left in the tank, or younger players who never quite panned out for one reason or another, there is often great value to be found in this period of the NFL calendar.
That includes at the wide receiver position. There are still viable options on the open market for teams that need to add a pass catcher or two.
Some of the options? Julio Jones, recently released by the Tennessee Titans. Jarvis Landry, who saw his time with the Cleveland Browns run its course. Will Fuller, who offers blazing speed, and is probably waiting to see where Deshaun Watson lands via trade. Jamison Crowder, a reliable option out of the slot, JuJu Smith-Schuster is another option out of the slot, as is the recently-released Cole Beasley. Then there is Odell Beckham Jr., who is also a free agent after winning a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams.
Out of that group, a name that makes sense is Landry. Having spent his last two seasons under Kevin Stefanski, there is a lot of similarity between the offense he was running in Cleveland, and what the Packers do under Matt LaFleur. Plays like this, with Landry working across the field on a play-action design, are concepts he’ll be running on Day One in Green Bay with the Packers:
One way to add a receiver and get a head-start on the important chemistry between WR and QB is to find someone with experience in the offensive system, easing the learning curve. Given Landry’s time in Stefanski’s offense, his adjustment to life in LaFleur’s system would be relatively easy, making his ability to establish that much-needed chemistry with Rodgers easier as well.
Of course, something similar could be said about Beckham, who spent time with Stefanski the past two seasons and then finished his 2021 campaign in Los Angeles under Sean McVay. Both offenses offer similarities to what the Packers run under LaFleur, and given that Green Bay was trying to land Beckham during last season after his exit from Cleveland, a pairing of the Packers and Beckham could also make sense.
However, if Green Bay wants to add a receiver from the Los Angeles area, they might want to give the Rams a call about another option.
With the addition of Allen Robinson, the emergence of Cooper Kupp and a potential return of Beckham to the Rams, there could be an opening for the Packers to swing a trade for Woods. In fact, the team is already receiving calls:
After signing Allen Robinson today, the Rams begin receiving calls about the availability of WR Robert Woods, who is now a prime trade candidate, per league sources. Woods is coming off a torn ACL, but is expected to be ready by training camp.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2022
The receiver was a key component to the Rams’ early success last season, and his experience in McVay’s offense would also be a boost if he were to join the Packers and help in their passing game.
Last season, the Packers used Adams on routes like this one, and you can see Woods slotting into this role immediately with Green Bay:
Then there is what Woods brings to the table for the running game. McVay used Woods as a blocker on a variety of the Rams’ running concepts last season, and his ability to spring runs translates well to what the Packers need from their receivers.
Take plays like this, where Woods inserts to the inside and takes on a safety trying to get into the run fit:
Because of his varied skill-set, the Rams might be reluctant to part ways with Woods. But if I am with the Packers, I’m seeing what it would take today.
Now that the Packers have a pair of selections in the first round, including a selection at 22 overall, it is easy to think that the team adds a wide receiver with at least one of those picks.
But who might they target?
For years, analysts have been speculating that the Packers would use an early-round selection on a wide receiver. Including the year that Green Bay traded up in the first round to draft…quarterback Jordan Love. But given the departure of Adams, perhaps this finally comes to fruition.
So who might that be?
This is an intriguing draft class at the receiver position, and if you ask five different analysts you might get five different top-fives at the position. Given, however, what the Packers do on offense, any desire to add a receiver early in the draft might see the Green Bay brain trust spend next Wednesday in lovely Columbus, Ohio.
That, after all, is the day of the Ohio State Pro Day.
The Buckeyes have a pair of wide receivers in this year’s draft, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. While others might prefer Drake London or Treylon Burks, Wilson and Olave might be the kind of play-makers that the Packers are looking for to fit in their offense.
Both players are explosive athletes, with the ability to create big plays in the passing game. Olave is perhaps the better pure route-runner, and has the ability to track the football well on downfield throws. On this play against Michigan State he runs an out-and-up out of the left slot, and after working through the jam attempt from the corner — showing good pace on his route — he then tracks the ball perfectly over his shoulder and makes an incredible catch along the sideline:
Then there is Wilson, who put up a huge season for the Buckeyes last year with 12 touchdown reception. While Olave might offer more as a route-runner, Wilson is the explosive ball-winner that could pair well with Rodgers, while emulating what Adams was able to do at the catch point.
That trait of Wilson’s showed up on plays like this one against Michigan, as the receiver skies over the defender to pull in the throw for a touchdown:
Adams is a silky-smooth receiver with impressive skills at the catch point, traits that served him well during his time in Green Bay with Rodgers. Both Olave and Wilson have a foundation of those traits, and the potential to develop them as they embark on their NFL careers. If the Packers address receiver early in this draft, do not be surprised if a Buckeye finds their way to Lambeau Field.
It is hard to replace a receiver such as Adams in the passing game. But this NFL off-season provides the Packers with a number of options, both internally, externally and through the draft. If they were wise, the Packers would add a few different options, whether via trade, free agency and/or the draft, to try and find the best pairing for Rodgers in the passing game.
Giving him a shot at one true last dance, even if it is with a less familiar partner.