With the NFL free agency finally dying down, it is well-known that the Packers need some wide receivers. Davante Adams left via trade, MVS signed with the Chiefs, and Equanimeous St. Brown signed with a division rival, the Chicago Bears. The Packers will likely go heavy at wide receiver in the upcoming NFL draft, potentially mirroring the 2018 draft approach (three wide receivers were taken). That being said, the wide receivers taken will most likely be drafted earlier than the 4th round. Check out which wide receivers have visited the Packers so far this offseason.
There is a lot of pressure on Amari Rodgers to have a massive sophomore season and a lot of pressure on Lazard to turn into a potential WR1. Adding at least one more veteran wide receiver would be very beneficial for the Packers. Here are three cheap and under-the-radar veteran wide receivers the Packers should target.
Wide Receiver 1: Dede Westbrook
Westbrook showed promise in 2018 and 2019, catching 132 passes for 1377 yards and 8 TDs in his 31 games played. The Jaguars had high hopes for him going into 2020, but unfortunately, a knee injury placed him on IR for most of the 2020 season.
Despite the severe knee injury a couple of years ago, the Packers should still take a flier on Dede. Dede has shown he is a capable NFL wide receiver with two seasons of over 600 yards. He would also add some speed to the Packers’ wide receiver group, as he runs a 4.34 40-yard dash.
Westbrook has had a lot of lackluster QB play throughout his career. The best QB he has played with is Kirk Cousins, a good QB, but Westbrook only had 15 targets over his one-year career with the Vikings. In 2021, Westbrook was signed by the Vikings but slowly dropped down the depth chart after the emergence of KJ Osborn as WR3. Westbrook still has a lot to prove after not starting one game since 2019.
He would be a low-risk, high-reward type of player as he would most likely sign on a veteran minimum deal. Westbrook is probably the most talented wide receiver on this list, and if I were the Packers, I would sign him to a two-year deal, with little to no guaranteed money in year two if Westbrook doesn’t work out in year 1. Westbrook would most likely want to sign a one-year prove-it deal and cash in on a long term before he turns 30.
Wide Receiver 2: Keelan Cole
Another former Jaguars wide receiver? What can I say? The Jaguars have had many promising wide receivers that haven’t been able to flourish due to poor QB play. Keelan Cole is only 28 years old and is coming off a lackluster year with the Jets. You may be thinking, why sign a player coming off a sub-500-yard season with only 1 TD. He will come very cheap and showed a lot of promise in his rookie year on the Jaguars (2017) and had a decent season during his last year on the Jaguars (2020). Cole would also add speed to the Packers’ wide receiver group as he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. Keelan Cole would most likely sign a veteran minimum deal to play with the Packers.
Cole’s best season was his rookie year, where he had 748 yards and 3 TDs as part of a Jaguars team that made the AFC Conference Championship. That would be the best season a Packers wide receiver, sans Davante Adams, has had since Jordy Nelson in 2016. Cole has also never had a QB even close to Aaron Rodgers’s talent. Keelan Cole also has some experience as a punt and kick returner. In 2020, Cole returned 9 punts for 140 yards and a 1 TD. Cole led the NFL in punt return TDs and longest punt return (91 yards) that same year.
He has averaged 23.5 yards per kick return and 14.3 yards per punt return throughout his career. Cole has also stayed very healthy his entire NFL career, and he’s only missed two games out of a possible 81 games. With Cobb missing 11 games the last two seasons, the Packers could use a veteran that will stay on the field. Cole also has a good amount of starting reps. He has 34 starts under his belt, second-most behind Randall Cobb.
Wide Receiver 3: Tajae Sharpe
Sharpe is probably the biggest enigma of these three wide receivers. Sharpe had a solid rookie season, especially for a 5th round pick. Unfortunately, he suffered a foot injury that kept him out the entirety of the 2017 season. He came back and started 13 games in 2018, but his production severely dipped. He has never been able to replicate or improve upon his rookie year’s production.
Despite his lackluster production, Sharpe has always found himself in the starting lineup. He has never started less than six games in seasons where he has played 15+ games. Sharpe may not provide elite production at the wide receiver spot for the Packers, but he does provide a lot of starting experience, which is severely needed in that group.
One major plus to Sharpe’s game is that he only has two drops in the last four years. Rodgers needs receivers he can trust to make catches and having a receiver that rarely drops the ball would be essential in keeping Rodgers happy and the passing game moving.
I believe that the Packers will try and solve most of their receiver woes via the draft. The Packers probably won’t sign a wide receiver until after the draft, as they have been pretty good at turning the late off-season acquisitions into gems. Out of these wide receivers, I would want Dede Westbrook the most. Following Westbrook, I would want Keelan Cole and then, lastly, Tajae Sharpe.
Whatever the Packers do to prepare for the upcoming 2022-2023 season, one thing is certain. Their offense will look a lot different than last year.
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