Historically, the Green Bay Packers are a frugal team that rarely makes trades or signs big-name free agents. Nearing the end of the Aaron Rodgers era, the 2022 Packers may need to shake things up, even if history says not to.
The last time the Packers traded for a wide receiver was quite recently, in 2021, believe it or not. However, when you consider that the player traded for was then 30-year-old former Packer Randall Cobb, that trade becomes much less exciting. Before that, the front office traded for the likes of DeShone Kizer, B.J. Goodson, and Dexter Williams. Zero of those players remain on the roster. The front office in Green Bay always has its ear pressed up against the door on a star player’s availability, but, rarely, a deal is ever done.
After the first five weeks of this year’s NFL season, the Packers have a 3-2 record with some pretty embarrassing losses. This team is supposed to be in win-now mode. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has looked like a shell of himself and the “best defense on paper” from this past offseason looks lost against the run. Whether it’s a change in coaching or personnel, Green Bay needs to figure it out and they need to do it fast. If Green Bay decides to change its ways and stop being a homegrown team finally, they need to target these players before the November 1st trade deadline.
1) Taylor Moton, Right Tackle | Carolina Panthers
I’m sure plenty of people expect a Packers trade candidates list to start with a wide receiver, given the loss of Davante Adams and the slow development of chemistry between Aaron Rodgers and his rookie wide receivers. The offensive line unit in Green Bay has not been good, even with the long-awaited return of left tackle David Bakhtiari. Elgton Jenkins has shown that he’s still rusty while being asked to play at RT when he exceeds as a guard.
The Packers trading for Moton would be tricky given the Panthers signed him to a four-year, 71.25 million dollar extension back in 2021, but cap geniuses have been pulling off crazy things in the past few years. The Panthers are in full rebuild mode, meaning they will want to cut ties with big contracts and stock up on draft picks. If done, this trade would allow Elgton Jenkins to slide over to the guard spot, taking over for Royce Newman who has had a slow start, while also giving Carolina the draft picks to start their rebuild.
2) DJ Moore, Wide Receiver | Carolina Panthers
Baker Mayfield has shown that he hates throwing to the number one wide receiver in his offenses. DJ Moore has looked more and more disgruntled as the season goes on. As was stated before, the Panthers are rebuilding and the Packers need to get a playmaker that Aaron Rodgers is more likely to trust. DJ Moore is an excellent yard-after-catch receiver, averaging 403.25 YAC per season from 2018 to 2021, making him perfect for an offense meant to thrive off of a run-pass option.
Like the Moton trade, the numbers on DJ Moore’s contract make this trade near impossible, as he is owed $19.9 million in 2023 alone. Aaron Rodgers tends to throw to his receivers based on trust, we’ve seen that a lot more in recent years. He has seen what DJ can do with mediocre quarterback play. If Moore quickly gains that trust, he solidifies this wide receiver group.
3) Tyler Lockett, Wide Receiver | Seattle Seahawks
Tyler Lockett has been one of the best ball-tracking wideouts in the NFL his entire career and is responsible for some of the greatest completions in former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s career. Lockett, who just turned 30, could be deemed “old” by NFL skilled position player standards. The likelihood of the Seahawks being Super Bowl contenders, either this year or next, is very little.
The Seahawks have the wide receiver of the future in DK Metcalf. Whether that future is Geno Smith or not, likely not even though he is playing the best football of his career, DK is around until the 2026 season. That allows Seattle to move on from an aging receiver for immediate draft compensation while providing Green Bay with a very reliable deep-threat weapon for their offense. The guaranteed $16 million that Lockett is due this year is the only remaining guaranteed money left on his contract. If general manager Brian Gutekunst can persuade Seattle to pay a majority of that salary, I can’t think of a single reason why Lockett isn’t a Packer by November 1st.
At some point, Green Bay is going to have to change the way they have operated for so many years. They’ve started to sign more superstar-free agents in recent years, like Adrian Amos and Zadarius Smith, but will get comfortable leaning on homegrown talent for way too long. It is time that Brian Gutekunst breaks away from trying to find a third-round diamond in the rough and trade that third-rounder for an immediate impact player. The Super Bowl window in Green Bay is closing fast, they need some help to get there before it closes.
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