Grading on Salary-Cap Curve: Receivers
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Player grades have long been a staple of postseason analysis. Ours are different. So much of building a team is doing it within the constraints of the salary cap. Teams need their big-money players to come up big and some bargain players to outplay their contracts. Thus, our annual grades are done on a salary-cap curve.
Cap: $10.85 million (14th at position)
Season: There have been three seasons of 997 receiving yards in NFL history. Adams has two of them, including this year. Had he not missed four games with a toe injury, his 83 receptions for 997 yards and five touchdowns projects to 111 receptions for 1,329 yards and seven touchdowns. As it was, he ranked fourth in the league in catches per game and fifth in yards. He was an army of one on a receiver corps that failed to have a reliable secondary option. He dominated the playoffs with 17 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns. Of 79 receivers to be targeted 50 times, Adams ranked sixth with 2.33 yards per pass route, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF charged Adams with nine drops, STATS had three and we were in between with seven. He also fumbled twice. Where the toe seemed to stymie Adams was his elusiveness. After averaging 12 missed tackles per season the last three years, he forced only two in the regular season.
Cap: $2.456 million (66th at position)
Season: As a restricted free agent last offseason, Allison and the Packers met in the middle between the original-round and second-round tenders. With a long-term contract on the line, Allison went bust. He caught 34-of-55 passes (61.9 percent) for just 287 yards (8.4 per catch). Of 79 receivers to be targeted 50 times, Allison ranked 78th with 0.68 yards per pass route and 78th in yards per catch, according to Pro Football Focus. He dropped five passes, fumbled twice and broke just one tackle. At least he blocked, which is why he ranked second on the unit with 638 snaps, though that’s hardly worth $2.5 million.
Cap: $624,389 (139th at position)
Season: Valdes-Scantling caught 26-of-56 passes (46.4 percent) for 452 yards and two touchdowns. He suffered knee and ankle injuries in Week 6 against Detroit, then caught two passes for 133 yards with a 74-yard touchdown six days later against Oakland. It was a show of toughness and athleticism that seemed to show his arrow was pointing straight up. Instead, it all fell apart. In the final nine regular-season games, he caught 5-of-19 passes for 36 yards. He played one snap in the NFC Championship Game. With his combination of size and speed, he shouldn’t be tossed aside. But this obviously will be a huge offseason, with the expectation that a major investment will be coming at his position.
Cap: $570,000 (149th at position)
Season: Kumerow caught 12-of-21 passes (57.1 percent) for 219 yards and one touchdown in the regular season and added a 23-yard catch vs. San Francisco in the championship game. Of 131 receivers targeted at least 20 times, he ranked 91st with 1.20 yards per pass route, according to PFF. He had one drop. Kumerow showed a strong bond with Rodgers through the offseason practices and blocked his butt off but his 328 snaps were the fewest of the five regular receivers.
Cap: $520,822 (163rd at position)
Season: With Adams down with turf toe, the Packers signed Grant on Oct. 16. As much as the team struggled to find a regular contributor, and with Grant having something of a track record with a combined 80 receptions the previous two seasons, he didn’t play a single snap in 10 regular-season games and two playoff games. That he stuck around on the roster for three months is one of life’s great mysteries.
Cap: $495,000 (174th at position)
Season: With the Packers in dire straits in Week 6 against Detroit, quarterback Aaron Rodgers went to receivers coach Alvis Whitted and suggested Lazard be given a chance. The Packers likely wouldn’t have won the game without Rodgers’ input and they might not have reached the NFC Championship Game without it, either. Kick-started by his four catches for 65 yards and one touchdown vs. the Lions, Lazard caught 35-of-52 passes (67.3 percent) for 477 yards (13.6 average) and three touchdowns. All of that came over 11 games. Projected to 16 games, that works out to 51 receptions, 694 yards and four touchdowns. Of 79 receivers to be targeted 50 times, Lazard ranked 42nd with 1.62 yards per pass route and 46thin drop rate (three; 7.9 percent), according to Pro Football Focus. He had three drops but became a trusted weapon on third down and reliable blocker. Plus, he tied for third on the team with seven tackles on special teams.