I’ve been begging for two years for the Green Bay Packers to address their backup receivers problem. So what does general manager Brian Gutekunst do? He releases Jordy Nelson, turning a problem into a likely calamity. Now they need a starter and multiple backups.
What can Gutekunst’s plan be? If it’s a free agency acquisition, that ship might have sailed. Using rotoworld.com ratings, of 43 free agent wide receivers, the top seven have been picked off. Numbers six and seven are both in the $7 million annual salary range. Of the 26 remaining WRs, there are about seven still available for probably from $2 to $6.5 million annually.
In looking over the seven most eligible wide receivers left on the list, six of them are: Terrelle Pryor (28), Mike Wallace (31), Kendall Wright (28), Jeremy Maclin (29), Eric Decker (31), and Brice Butler (28). Given their ages, most of these high-mileage guys would be short-term investments.
But wait, forget about getting a backup receiver – we can do better than that. The current number three on the list is Jordan Matthews, who is coming off IR after surgery on an injured thumb.
Matthews produced between 803 and 997 receiving yards in each of his first three years with Philadelphia, considerably better than what Davante Adams did. He was the 42nd overall pick in 2014, ahead of Adams by 11 picks. I don’t know why the Eagles traded him to the Buffalo Bills in 2017.
He’s taller (6’3”, 212) than Adams and has the much better 40-yard dash time, 4.46 vs. 4.56. The rest of his combine scores are mid-range, so he has good versatility and no weaknesses. This ain’t no backup, this is a WR1 who would be a sound replacement for Jordy Nelson and one who would beautifully complement Adams.
Twice a first-team All-SEC selection, Matthews was put on five first-team All-American lists in his senior year at Vanderbilt. He’s got a slew of SEC and school records.
The guy is only 25 years old. Presumably his thumb is fully healed. He’d cost from $6 to $7 million per year. His pre-injury stats also dwarf what Randall Cobb has done in the past three years.
Randall Cobb is carrying a huge cap hit at $12.7 million – about three million more than Nelson’s was. There’s your money for acquiring Matthews. Starting for Green Bay: Matthews at right wideout, Adams on the left, Ty Montgomery in the slot, and Jimmy Graham at tight end. Lots of height, lots of bulk, plenty of speed, great athleticism. Plenty of experience, but still youthful. This is potentially the most talented group of receivers Aaron Rodgers would ever have had to work with.
And even after exchanging Mathews for Cobb, an extra $5 million would be added to the salary cap kitty – and usable to obtain a quality backup receiver.
There is no wide receiver in the upcoming draft – even if the first-round pick was utilized – who could contribute in 2018 anywhere near to what I would expect out of Jordan. Go get him Brian!