The Packers are finally poised to give Jordan Love the keys to their offense in 2023. But are they prepared to give the young quarterback enough help out wide? Coach Matt LaFleur publicly pondered as much, telling reporters at the NFL's annual owners meetings that it "would be nice" to add "some veteran leadership" at wide receiver.
Green Bay isn't without a couple of promising prospects in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, who combined for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as 2022 rookies. But only three other receivers are under contract for 2023, and only one of them has played more than a single NFL game. Veterans Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, two of Aaron Rodgers' favorites, have since departed via free agency, leaving the Packers in need of pass catching help yet again.
So where, exactly, can Green Bay turn for assistance? Here's a look at some of their top remaining options:
Veteran trade targets
This is the most enticing of the possibilities, primarily because the veteran free agent market (more on that below) is down to leftovers. A blockbuster splash for someone like the 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk, who's entering a contract year after a 1,000-yard breakout, would be the best long-term bet. But let's assume San Francisco stays resistant on that front. The Packers could also preserve more draft capital by targeting one of the following:
- DeAndre Hopkins (Cardinals): He's neither young (30) nor cheap (due $29.9M in 2023), and it's possible Arizona will outright cut him to save money, but when healthy, he's still a proven technician with contested-catch skills. In other words, he'd make for a perfect complement to the explosive Watson, giving Love more of a downfield safety valve.
- Tyler Boyd (Bengals): As a title contender, Cincinnati won't easily budge on parting with Boyd, but with inevitable mega-deals coming for Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, the Packers could offer to take the veteran slot expert off their hands. He's a QB's best friend as a proven short- and mid-range possession target.
- Allen Robinson (Rams): The A-Rob who once threatened the NFC North as the Bears' jump-ball specialist is seemingly long gone, but Los Angeles might give the Packers better compensation to absorb his contract. As a rental, he could still have value as a rotational red-zone piece.
- Corey Davis (Jets): Rodgers has complimented Davis' all-around skillset, suggesting the two will stay together once A-Rod officially relocates to New York. But the Jets have multiple reasons to move the former Titans standout -- a big, solid, if injury-prone No. 2 -- after making over their own WR corps. He could be packaged into the Rodgers deal.
If the Packers can't land a proven starter via trade, their next best bet would be using one of their top three picks (No. 15, No. 45, No. 78) on a receiver or tight end, considering Robert Tonyan also left via free agency. The 2023 draft class is widely considered deep at the latter spot. Here are a few potential targets for each round:
|Projected round||Logical targets|
WR Quentin Johnson (TCU), TE Michael Mayer (Notre Dame), WR Jordan Addison (USC), TE Dalton Kincaid (Utah), WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), WR Zay Flowers (Boston College)
WR Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee), WR Kayshon Boutte (LSU), WR Josh Downs (North Carolina), TE Sam LaPorta (Iowa), TE Luke Musgrave (Oregon State)
WR Tyler Scott (Cincinnati), WR Rashee Rice (SMU), WR Marvin Mims (Oklahoma), TE Tucker Kraft (South Dakota State), WR Nathaniel Dell (Houston)
The first-round possibilities are obviously the splashiest of the bunch. It's possible Johnson and Mayer could be off the board by No. 15, though Kincaid, Flowers and Smith-Njigba could all make sense if they stand pat or move back. Any of those Day One prospects would be expected to step in as an immediate starter alongside Watson and Doubs.
Veteran free agents
This is the most likely path to adding experience to the pass catching room, albeit the least promising. The following unsigned free agents could make sense as flyers, although ideally they'd be paired with a premium draft investment:
Note: We're not including Odell Beckham Jr. under the assumption he will ultimately follow Rodgers to the Jets.
- Olamide Zaccheaus (Falcons): Just 26, his numbers have improved in three straight seasons, and he logged a career-high 40 catches for 533 yards in 2022 despite shoddy QB play in Atlanta.
- Richie James (Giants): The former 49ers prospect came on strong down the stretch for the WR-challenged Giants, securing 81% of his targets to finish with 569 yards despite making just four official starts.
- Jarvis Landry (Saints): Age and injuries are catching up to him going on 31, but when healthy, he's still a reliable short-yardage possession target, ideally suited for a No. 3/4 role these days.