GREEN BAY, Wis. – Over the next two weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position look at what the Green Bay Packers have and what they need.
We can revisit this process before the draft based on what -- if anything -- general manager Ted Thompson does in free agency.
Next up, receivers:
2014 free agents: James Jones.
The good: Jordy Nelson set career highs with 85 catches and 1,314 yards and stayed healthy all season after battling injuries the previous year. Second-year pro Jarrett Boykin emerged after early season injuries to Jones and Randall Cobb and finished with 49 catches for 681 yards with three touchdowns in the final 12 games. When healthy, this might be as deep a receiving corps as there is in the league.
The bad: The Packers had designs on having three 1,000-yard receivers, but Jones missed two games early in the season because of a knee injury and battled pain most of the season, while Cobb missed 10 games because of a fractured tibia. Jones still finished with 59 catches for 817 yards (a career best), but Cobb’s season was essentially ruined. He was the Packers’ leading receiver when he went down in Week 6 and did not return until Week 17, when he caught the game-winning touchdown that beat the Bears and sent the Packers to the playoffs. His six-game numbers projected to 82 catches and 1,154 yards had he played a full season.
The money: Both Nelson and Cobb will be entering the final year of their contracts in 2014. Nelson will be in the last season of a three-year, $12.6 million extension, while Cobb is still playing under his rookie deal and will make only $812,648. The Packers plan to keep both beyond their current deals. They also have Boykin, Myles White, Kevin Dorsey, Chris Harper, Alex Gillett and Sederrick Cunningham under contract for minimum salaries. Jones just finished a three-year, $9.6 million deal he signed in 2011. It’s hard to imagine him taking anything less this time around.
Draft priority: The Packers picked Dorsey and Charles Johnson in the seventh round last season. Dorsey spent the entire season on injured reserve, while Johnson left the practice squad to sign with the Browns during the season. Even if Jones isn’t re-signed, there’s not much urgency to add anyone to this already deep group.