In a call with reporters, GM Brian Gutekunst mentioned that even after Funchess opting out, the Green Bay Packers don’t feel an added need to address WR.
The primary topic among Green Bay Packers’ fans and the national pundits this past offseason was in regards to how they attacked – or didn’t attack – the receiver position. Outside of Davante Adams and the emergence of Allen Lazard over the second half of the season, the Packers’ wide receiver unit was quite underwhelming, and many believe that a true No. 2 option for Aaron Rodgers would help push this team over that Super Bowl hump.
However, due to salary cap restraints and the draft board not falling correctly, the only major addition that Green Bay made to the position this offseason was free agent Devin Funchess. But by now, we are all aware that he has decided to opt-out of the 2020 season, leaving the Packers with essentially the same personnel that they had in 2019, minus Geronimo Allison.
So as you can imagine, this has many concerned. In order for the Green Bay passing game to take a step forward, they are relying heavily on the internal development of their young receivers. And while I think this group is in better shape than what most do, outside of Adams, there are no guarantees at this point.
Most of us will agree that Lazard can make a big leap in what will be his third NFL season, but that remains to be seen. I also believe that Marquez Valdes-Scantling will bounce back, and Equanimeous St. Brown will provide a boost, but once again, that remains to be seen.
There are certainly several question marks surrounding this unit, but even with the loss of Funchess who would have provided this offense with some added stability at the position, GM Brian Gutekunst is still quite comfortable with the players already on the roster.
During a Zoom call with reporters on Sunday, when asked about the receiver position, Gutey dismissed the idea that the Packers have to go and sign a receiver now to replace Funchess.
Now, could the Packers still sign someone like Taylor Gabriel? Possibly. But from the sounds of it, Gutey doesn’t see it as a necessity like many others do.
Gutekunst still believes in these young Packers’ receivers because they have all shown that they can be effective, albeit in small doses. Lazard emerged as a trusted target for Rodgers last season, while prior to his snap count dwindling, Valdes-Scantling was averaging nearly 20 yards per catch and had games of 133 yards and 99 yards against Oakland and Denver, respectively.
Meanwhile, St. Brown missed all of 2019 with an injury, but he popped during his rookie season, and perhaps most importantly, he has QB1 in his corner.
We also have to take into consideration that within the Matt LaFleur offense, the days of running four or five wide on a regular basis are gone. We already saw more two and three-receiver sets in 2019, and it will continue to trend in that direction moving forward as the offense becomes more of what LaFleur envisions.
With running backs and tight ends playing a more significant role in the passing game, while it would be nice, the Green Bay Packers don’t need five or six effective receivers. Instead, they can get by with three because they also have Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Jamaal Williams, Tyler Ervin, Jace Sternberger, Robert Tonyan, and Marcedes Lewis as pass-catching options.
I imagine that because of the success that several receivers on this roster have had at the NFL level, coupled with how LaFleur wants to run this offense, those are two big reasons as to why Gutekunst is so comfortable with the receivers already on the roster.
Although I still believe that signing a free agent such as Taylor Gabriel makes sense, based on what Gutey had to say on Sunday if you’re still holding out hope that Green Bay will make a late addition at receiver, it doesn’t look like that will come to fruition. At least not at this point.
Chances are they are going to let training camp play out and see where they stand before any addition is made. But I’d say the odds are that this current group of receivers is going to be the same group that takes the field in 2020.