The Green Bay Packers are currently set to run it back with all of their 2020 wide receivers — plus veteran Devin Funchess — but could another NFL team desperate for effective pass-catchers persuade them to trade away one of their starters?
CBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora recently identified Packers fourth-year wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling as a possible “sleeper” target on the trade market this offseason, something he argued would become more likely if Green Bay lands one or more receivers in the 2021 NFL draft at the end of the month.
Via La Canfora:
Marquez Valdez-Scantling is still just 26 and is 6-4, 206. Beastly. And he averages 18.3 air yards per target, which is amazing. And he averaged 7.3 YAC/reception, which is fourth among all wide receivers. He will make $2.2M this year and then be a free agent, which means if the Pack don’t plan to pay him they may be inclined to listen on him. He caught 33 balls for 690 yards and 6 TDs last year. After passing entirely on a generational receiver draft a year ago and adding nothing for Aaron Rodgers, one suspects this front office adds one or more in the 2021 deep class, knowing their brooding QB is watching closely. That might make dealing MVS even more palatable. Then again, maybe they’ll just draft more quarterbacks and running backs.
The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Packers!
Would Packers Want to Trade MVS?
Putting aside his snarky comment about Rodgers and his unimaginative shot at the Packers’ 2020 draft decisions, La Canfora makes some reasonable points about Valdes-Scantling’s trade potential.
The 2018 fifth-round pick did deliver impressive deep-ball numbers in 2020, using his blazing speed and improved on-field connection with Rodgers to average a career-best 20.9 yards per reception. While Valdes-Scantling is still working to correct his persistent issue with dropped passes, he has proven capable as a starting NFL wide receiver and could lure teams interested in a guy who both outruns and outsizes defenders.
The Packers will also have to make a decision on Valdes-Scantling’s future within the next year. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2021 along with just about every other wide receiver on the Packers’ roster — including star Davante Adams. If they rightly choose to extend Adams and also retain Allen Lazard as a restricted free agent next offseason, there might not be enough money left to re-up with MVS.
At the same time, the Packers may like his affordability (about $2.24 million in 2021) and be more interested in seeing how he plays out the final year of his contract than making a preemptive decision. Even if their intent is to let him sign elsewhere next March, they would still get one more year out of a talented pass-catcher who is already familiar with Matt LaFleur’s playbook.
Packers Might Draft WR Either Way
The Packers might not be inclined to trade Valdes-Scantling given how most of their offseason efforts have gone toward preserving, not breaking apart last year’s roster, but adding a wide receiver in this year’s draft would still make a lot of sense regardless of whether they explored that option.
Green Bay has gone the past two drafts without selecting a single wide receiver, but their upcoming free agency issues in 2021 could force their hand. Maybe they will repeat their process from 2018 and spend multiple Day 3 picks on a haul of pass-catchers, but Valdes-Scantling has been the lone gem in that haul. A wiser decision could be targetting a more substantial talent in the first three rounds.
Adding one or multiple rookies would certainly crowd the Packers’ receiving room, but they also have proved they don’t mind making their young talent wait until roles open up naturally. Rashan Gary, a 2019 first-round, played less than a quarter of defensive snaps as a rookie, while their 2020 first-rounder, Jordan Love, still hasn’t seen the field.
READ NEXT: Father of Packers Star Dies Suddenly at 57