Free agent Geronimo Allison has agreed to terms with the Detroit Lions. Not surprisingly, the deal is for the veteran’s minimum of $910,000, and he’ll get a $137,500 signing bonus, which gets him to just over $1 million.
For all of Allison’s four years in Green Bay I’ve been as charitable as I know how to be about the Packers’ attraction to this undrafted, non-athletic splinter of a man: 202 pounds (196 coming out of college) spread over a 6’3” frame. I’ve also, however, been brutally honest in repeatedly wondering aloud what the team saw in him.
The best deal he could get from any club after four years in the league is an accurate measure of his worth. It is also an indication of how badly the team miscalculated in giving him so much playing time over four years. Even in 2019, when the writing was on the wall, the G-man was given 638 snaps, or 59.2 percent of them. In return, they got a piddly 287 yards of production, on 34 catches. His two fumbles matched his two touchdowns. Due in large part to his flimsy physique, Allison has been plagued with injury, ball security, and pass dropping problems.
While Allison was essentially assigned a starter’s role last season, the Packers gave Allen Lazard only 44.4 percent of the action, and the under-utilized Jake Kumerow got only 30.4 percent of the snaps. It’s a shame that Kumerow has never been given the opportunities he has earned.
In sum, Geronimo’s shortcomings should have been obvious to the most casual of fans. How could the front office and coaching staff have been so blind?
I apologize for starting 2020 in such a funk. But the Geronimo saga is but a part of a much larger tableau. When it comes to Green Bay receivers, our team has had its head in the sand extending well back into the Ted Thompson era. Sorry, but things haven’t improved any under GM Gutekunst, or for that matter under head coach Matt LaFleur. Nor does the Devin Funchess deal improve my disposition.
This list of bungles includes signing Jerad Cook up for only a year, and to the unending futile attempts to find a tight end on the cheap, followed by the over-reaction of paying a king’s ransom for the declining Jimmy Graham. Let’s not even think about Marty Bennett.
Add to the list the bunching up of receivers in the middle rounds of the 2018 draft: J’Mon Moore, MVS, and Equanimeous St. Brown. By the way, fourth-rounder Moore is now with the Browns, sort of (reserve/future contract), where he hopes to add to his career total of 15 yards of receptions.
It also includes the free fall in 2019 of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has failed to make proper use of his ample talent – he has the body and athleticism to become a star in this league. Who else can you name who is a well-proportioned 6’4” with 4.37 speed?
I’ll only go back the last five years, but the list includes the failure of the club to develop or utilize such guys as Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis, and Kumerow,
The list also includes the sinking career of Randall Cobb – the Packers were unable for three straight years to reverse the downward trajectory of a still-young player. And there’s the similar decline of Richard Rodgers, who went from 58 catches for 510 yards and eight TDs in his second year in 2015 to just signing with the Redskins for around $1 million for one year – he’s still only 28.
The list should also include the failure to properly exploit Aaron Jones’s receiving talents in his first two years.
And it must include the casting off of James Jones in 2014, then begging him to come back (he saved the team in 2015), then casting him off again after that season.
Similar to Geronimo’s history, the list has to include the four years wasted trying to groom Trevor Davis as a receiver, which produced a total of 122 receiving yards. Davis went from appearing to be in line to be a starter after being touted for having a great training camp in 2019 to being traded one week into the season. Next up is Tyler Ervin – will he suffer the same fate?
You can ascribe these failings to the GM, the front office, and/or the scouting staff if you wish. Or you can blame them on the “developers”: the coaching staffs. Some (myself included) will undoubtedly place a portion of the blame on Rodgers, who is well known to favor some receivers, and shun those he doesn’t fully trust. Any way you slice it, however, the organization has taken one of the leagues most dangerous pass attacks, led by one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history, and slowly but surely turned it into a subpar unit.
At the very top of the above list, however, is the team’s decision to part ways after the 2017 season with the sainted Jordy Nelson – when the Rodgers/Nelson combo still should have had another two years of solid productivity. Jordy, one of the Packers’ greatest receivers of all time, was let go at age 32 – and just one season removed from a 97-catch, 1,257-yard, 14-touchdown season. Insane!
If you want to point to why the Packers went from perennially being in the Super Bowl hunt to losing records in 2017 and 2018, you need look no further than the team’s acquisition, development, and usage of its pass receivers. It’s got to change.