Packers: “Keep an Eye” on Will Fuller, but is that Best Use of Cap Space?

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01: Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans looks to catch a pass in the end zone in the second half against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01: Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans looks to catch a pass in the end zone in the second half against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Free agency is just around the corner, and despite the Green Bay Packers being about $11.5 million over the projected salary cap at the moment, GM Brian Gutekunst did tell reporters on Tuesday that if the “right player” is available in free agency, the team will be able to make the signing.

That response from Gutey then raised the question, who is the right player?

Well, one name to “keep an eye” on, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, is former Houston Texans’ wide receiver and current free agent Will Fuller. If you recall, the Packers were actively pursuing Fuller at last year’s trade deadline.

I said this back in November, and I’ll say it again, from a pure football standpoint, I love what Fuller could add to this Green Bay Packers’ offense.

Fuller had a career year in 2020, despite being suspended for the final five games of the season — plus the first game in 2021 — for PEDs. Through the first 11 games, Fuller hauled in 879 receiving yards on 16.6 yards per catch, with eight touchdowns–all of which were career highs.

He can line up either in the slot or out wide and is effective in all parts of the field, making him an ideal fit for the Matt LaFleur offense. Even though he missed the final five games, Fuller finished 16th among all receivers in deep passing yards–which are targets over 20 yards. In the slot, his 3.22 yards per route run ranked sixth out of all receivers, according to Pro Football Focus ($).

Like I said, from a football standpoint, he would be a great fit. But given the Green Bay Packers’ cap situation along with their other needs, is this a singing that they should make?

While I wouldn’t put much stock into Fuller’s suspension, it is worth noting that due to injuries, the most games he has appeared in came during his rookie season in 2016 when he played in 14 games. Since then, he’s missed at least five games each year.

On top of that, it’s fair to say that the Green Bay Packers have much bigger needs to address than receiver. While yes, it wouldn’t hurt to add someone new to the mix, I expect that to happen in the draft, where it is another very good receiver class and a much more affordable contract compared to what Fuller will likely land on the open market.

If the Packers do in fact dabble in free agency, I’d much rather see them address cornerback, interior defensive line, or preferably both. Cornerback is arguably the biggest need on this team, and entering the draft with it being as big of a hole as it is would be a very risky move. Having the mindset of “we have to take this position” typically doesn’t end up well.

With the interior defensive line, Kenny Clark still needs help inside, not to mention that Green Bay is lacking some serious depth at the position with Clark, Dean Lowry, Kingsley Keke, Anthony Rush, and Willington Previlon as the only on the roster options at the moment.

And to make matters even more challenging, this year’s defensive tackle class is considered by many draft analysts the worse position group of the bunch. Again, making it very risky to rely solely on the draft.

The unknown variable in all of this is how the shrunken salary cap is going to affect the free-agent market. The assumption is that the good players are still going to get paid, but many veterans will be squeezed into shorter, cheaper deals. Where Fuller falls in this coming off a suspension along with his injury history, I’m not sure.

My initial thought would be that given those factors coupled with a solid group of free-agent receivers, that Fuller’s price could be driven down. But then we just saw Detroit give Tyrell Williams a one-year deal worth up to $6.2 million–so I circle back to not exactly knowing what to expect.

According to Spotrac, they have Fuller landing a four-year deal worth almost $68 million–or an average annual value of $16.9 million. That seems steep, but if that is the case, I’ll tell you right now that Fuller isn’t coming to Green Bay.

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Unless it’s a bargain, I’d rather see the Packers invest their limited resources at other positions of need–preferably the two that I mentioned above. This is, after all, an offense that finished first in scoring and was first by DVOA. Yes, they should add to the receiver position, but I don’t see Fuller being the answer when you take into account all of the other factors just discussed.