The Green Bay Packers open and closed the 2021 season without a clear commitment from their biggest stars. Even after the dust settled, the future of the franchise remains somewhat clouded in mystery.
Famously, the standoff between the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit its apex during the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, with various league insiders reporting that the reigning MVP felt dismissed by the organization and wanted a new start elsewhere. Those discussions eventually dissipated as Rodgers reported to training camp, but neither he nor the team knew whether this past season would prove to be the last in the 17-year marriage.
For his part, Rodgers delivered another spectacular season, throwing for 4,115 yards, 37 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. The veteran caught fire when he landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list despite claiming earlier that he had become “immunized” to the virus, though that didn’t prevent the Packers from securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the second consecutive year. Rodgers again earned MVP honors, the fourth of his career, and Green Bay appeared on the verge of breaking through to the Super Bowl after a decade-long drought.
Instead, the Packers fell to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round, ending their season and raising questions as to whether Rodgers would extend his tenure with the club. Ultimately, he decided to sign an extension that ties him to Green Bay for the foreseeable future. Still, All-Pro wideout Davante Adams managed to push his way out, putting the front office in position to rebuild the receiving corps around a signal-caller who turns 39 later this year.
2022 Draft Picks
Following the departure of Adams and, at least for now, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Packers find themselves in dire need of help at wideout. Most of the top free agents at the position have already joined other clubs, leaving the Packers to sign a more limited veteran, explore the trade market, and add some talent in the draft. Outside of receiver, Green Bay needs to address a defensive line that features star nose tackle Kenny Clark and little else. The offensive line could also use some depth, though the need ranks below the others.
Will the Packers add a veteran starter at wideout? Already, big names like Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, and Mike Williams have come off the market for one reason or another. Julio Jones remains available, but his ability to contribute has diminished with time as has his body (14 games lost over the past two seasons). Valdes-Scantling remains unsigned and would provide Green Bay with an ascending player Rodgers already knows, but he alone won’t fill the void left by Adams.
After re-signing De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas, the Packers have few obvious holes on defense. While they cut Za’Darius Smith to save salary-cap space, he only contributed 18 snaps during the 2021 regular season. With Jaire Alexander returning to full health, the secondary has everything required to put a roof over opposing passing games. Still, Green Bay needs to give Clark some help up front.
Dream first pick
Drake London, WR, USC
No wideout can realistically fill Adams’ shoes as a rookie. However, London offers impressive size (6-foot-4, 219 pounds) and athleticism and could realistically handle some of Adams’ vacated duties in the red zone. Combined with some veteran assistance, he could help surround Rodgers with a capable receiving corps.