Donald Driver Done in Green Bay? Why Green Bay Can't Afford to Bring Him Back

Alex PetersonContributor IIIMay 10, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 2: Donald Driver #80 of the Green Bay Packers lays on the field injured during the game against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field on October 2, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

It's truly an honor to have watched Donald Driver throughout his career in Green Bay, as the old man has been a class act.

While Driver's production on the field has been outstanding, with seven years of over 1,000 yards and 59 career touchdowns he's been an even better role model for people in the Green Bay area. Throughout the 13 years he has been with the Packers, Driver's trademark smile and underdog story has made him a fan favorite. 

While his status as a Packer great has already been firmly entrenched, it seems as though Driver's run with the team may be coming to an end.

At 37-years-old, Double D isn't the kind of reliable and dynamic play-maker that Packers fans knew him as during his Pro Bowl days. His ability to run and separate has significantly diminished, and even though he still had some quality games last year for Green Bay, Driver will continue to decline if he stays around next year.

His production has steadily slipped over the last few seasons, going from over 1,000 yards receiving in 2009, to only 445 yards on 37 catches last year. For how efficient and productive the Packers offense was last year, Driver played a small role in it.

He fell back into a role as the 5th or 6th option in the passing game as younger players, such as Jordy Nelson, James Jones and even Randall Cobb, easily out-performed Driver.

There is value in keeping Driver. He, as a mentor of sorts, can teach the young corps of receivers how to be professionals. 

However, with all of the up-and-coming talents for the Packers at that position, I can't see Driver sticking with the team in 2012.

Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel both showed enough on the practice squad last year to earn raises from Green Bay to keep them away from potential takers. Gurley, however, is the guy that really stands out to me.

At 6'4'', with an outstanding 84" wingspan, this kid has the size to be not only a red zone threat, but another vertical option that can make big plays downfield. Gurley wasn't overly productive in college, but with his size and good speed (4.5 second speed in the forty-yard dash), the potential is there for him to be a quality receiver down-the-rod for Green Bay.

Not to mention, Gurley has a knack for special teams. The lanky receiver's five blocked punts during training camp nearly landed him a roster spot last season.

Green Bay added even more competition for Driver with the signing of the freakishly athletic Dale Moss from South Dakota State as an undrafted free agent.

A former basketball player, Moss's great size and outstanding leaping ability (he's 6'4'', 200 pounds with a 41" vertical) make him another decent possibility for the roster. While he's certainly raw, this kid's potential as a pure athlete is absolutely through the roof.

Green Bay has a wealth of young talent behind Donald Driver, and it's time that one or two of these players gets a shot playing with Aaron Rodgers on Sundays.

It would be a major mistake for Green Bay to stunt the growth of these three promising players in order to keep around an aging veteran. Although Driver's certainly a legend who I loved watching, age eventually catches up to everyone.

It seems as though Driver will suffer the same fate as fellow veterans Ryan Grant and Chad Clifton. And while it will be sad to see Green Bay release this classy wide out, it's the right move for the team moving forward.

After Driver is finished with Dancing with the Stars, it won't be long before he's shown the door out of Green Bay. 

With better players behind him and a pricey five million dollar price tag, the Packers simply can't afford to keep the old veteran around any longer.

Football is simply a young man's game, and Green Bay will go with youth once again.