GREEN BAY, Wis. – What happens when a poor class of free-agent receivers is coupled with an outstanding class of receivers in next month’s NFL Draft?
An ice-cold free-agent market.
Through more than 60 hours of NFL free agency, only three receivers have changed teams as of Wednesday night – and only one on a contract worth more than relative peanuts. That would be Randall Cobb, which tells you all you need to know about this year’s group of unrestricted pass-catchers. Cobb, who averaged 549 receiving yards and 10.0 yards per catch over his final three seasons in Green Bay, had a strong season for Dallas last year with 55 receptions for 828 yards – a career-best 15.1 yards per catch – and three touchdowns. That was enough to get him a three-year, $27 million deal from the Houston Texans.
The only other receivers to change teams were Damiere Byrd, who went from Arizona to New England on a one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million, and Seth Roberts, who went from Baltimore to Carolina (terms not available).
Video: Our top 10 receivers in free agency
That’s it. Every other receiver, from veteran Emmanuel Sanders to towering Devin Funchess to big-play threats Robby Anderson and Breshad Perriman, remained available about six hours after the official start of free agency and two-and-a-half days after the start of the free-agent negotiating period.
Will any of them tempt Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, who is acutely aware of the team need but also has limited cap space to make a move?
The Packers entered the offseason with a major need at receiver, where only Davante Adams and Allen Lazard would seem to be locks to make the 2020 roster. In the final nine regular-season games, Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught 5-of-19 passes for 36 yards. He played one snap in the NFC Championship Game. Jake Kumerow caught 12 passes. Equanimeous St. Brown caught 21 passes as a rookie in 2018 but spent last year on injured reserve. Geronimo Allison, who ranked next-to-last in the league among receivers in yards per pass route and yards per catch, and Ryan Grant, who didn’t play, are free agents. Darrius Shepherd and Malik Taylor spent most of the year on the practice squad. Reggie Begelton caught 102 passes for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders last year.
However, as is evident by the lack of action on the free-agent market - especially after Amari Cooper re-signed with Dallas and A.J. Green was franchised by Cincinnati - there are few good veteran options available. At 6-foot-3 and with 4.34 speed in the 40, few players in the league can match Anderson’s physical skill-set. But that hasn’t translated into consistent production. The 33-year-old Sanders was a nonfactor in games last year against Green Bay while with Denver and San Francisco.
Perriman (first round, 2015) has gone through three teams in five years and caught a career-high 36 passes last year for Tampa Bay. Funchess (second round, 2015) missed most of last season with the Colts due to injury and has a career catch rate of 51.9 percent. Nelson Agholor (first round, 2015) caught just 39 passes and averaged 9.3 yards per catch last year for Philadelphia. Paul Richardson (second round, 2014) had 48 catches in two years for Washington. Phillip Dorsett (first round, 2015) never has caught more than 33 passes in his five seasons.
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