More to a Big Trade than just the Packers Draft Picks

Jan 9, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers wide receiver room certainly needs an infusion of talent, but with 11 draft picks in total, including seven within the first four rounds and four in the top-60, whether it be through the draft, via a trade, or both, the Packers have the draft capital to reshape this room.

When it comes to the trade market, specifically, reports suggest that NFL teams are either calling on or are keeping a close eye on DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and AJ Brown, among others—although we do not know who those teams are.

There’s no question that adding one of those players to this Packers team would provide that much-needed boost, and with the number of early-round draft picks that they have, if Green Bay really wanted to make a trade happen and the other team was willing to make a deal — remember, it takes two teams for a trade to happen — they have the ability to do so.

However, as is often the case, there’s more to it than just having the required draft capital. As has been the case for the Green Bay Packers, the salary cap could be a limiting factor.

Now, the issue with the salary cap wouldn’t be in 2022. With players like Metcalf, Brown, and McLaurin all in the final year of their rookie deals, their contracts for this season are reasonable and could be absorbed even by the cap-strapped Green Bay Packers. According to Over the Cap (OTC), Metcalf and Brown have base salaries in the $3.9 million range, while McLaurin’s is around $2.7 million.

But where the problem could arise for Green Bay, and what could ultimately be the deterrent, is that each of these players is going to want a new deal, and with the way the receiver market has been shaped, all three are going to receive some fairly lucrative contracts as well–I mean, Christian Kirk just signed with Jacksonville for $18 million per year.

For the Packers, it’s not only this year that they face a salary cap crunch. Even with a rising salary cap, they are going to have to be salary cap conscious in the coming years as well.

In terms of salary cap space allocation, this is a very top-heavy roster with several big contracts. We don’t yet know what the 2023 salary cap will be, but let’s guess it jumps to $220 million, for example. Well, even if that were the case, per OTC, the Packers already have $125.96 million in cap space devoted to only six players next season. While, yes, there are cap-creating moves that can be made, you get the idea, as there is already a large chunk of the salary cap accounted for.

And before we even consider adding a major wide receiver contract to the books, don’t forget that the Packers still have to pay Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, and Elgton Jenkins in the next 12 months or so as well.

Sure, in the end, the Green Bay Packers were willing to make Davante Adams the highest-paid receiver in football, but none of these players are Adams—not to mention that in this scenario, Green Bay also wasn’t parting with premium draft capital either to make a deal happen.

It’s also important to note that this is a very talented wide receiver class, which will give the Packers the opportunity to find an impact player — or two — on a relatively inexpensive rookie deal. With that said, while I’m not expecting Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson numbers in that first season, we’ve seen players like Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, and CeeDee Lamb over the last two years be very productive receiving threats for their respective teams.

I do believe that there is a lot of value in adding a veteran to this team, who Aaron Rodgers can lean on early in the season, and whether it’s via a trade or a free agent addition following the draft, I expect the Packers to go that route at some point. But when it comes to making a trade for one of these high-profile receivers — that is, if they are even truly available — I have my doubts.

Between the premium draft capital that would have to be traded away plus having to add another big contract to the books, my guess is that the Green Bay Packers will look to the draft first and then address any remaining holes at the position through free agency or with a more cost effective trade option.

Now, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible that Green Bay will make a splash trade, as we’ve seen, Brian Gutekunst has operated more aggressively and against the grain the last two offseasons, but I wouldn’t consider this likely, and in large part it’s due to the already large contracts the Packers have on the books in the coming years.