Packers Must Trade for a WR or Risk Wasting Season, Aaron Rodgers' Remaining Career

Brent SobleskiOctober 31, 2022

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 30: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers' time is waning. His powers are no longer at their height.

Instead, a transference of power occurred in real time when watching Sunday Night Football. The superhero qualities once displayed by the four-time NFL MVP had been bequeathed to a proper successor in the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen.

Much like in the DC Films production Black Adam and the upcoming sequel to Shazam!, the powers of the protagonists can be shifted to others, who then become the world's mightiest mortal. The description is apt for Allen's current standing in professional football.

The designation previously belonged to Rodgers. What everyone saw Sunday during the Green Bay Packers' 27-17 loss at Highmark Stadium is a once-elite quarterback in decline, incapable of carrying an offense without the requisite tools to execute consistently at a high level.

Change is necessary, and it's needed quickly. The trade deadline just so happens to be Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. Green Bay should be buyers despite its disappointing 3-5 record.

The Packers essentially waved the white flag a couple of times in what became their fourth straight loss because the roster had multiple injuries at wide receiver and an offensive line in a constant state of flux.

On 3rd-and-16, with 1:06 left to play in the first half and down by two touchdowns, Rodgers handed the ball to running back Aaron Jones.

On 4th-and-1 from Buffalo's 26-yard line and down 17 points early in the fourth quarter, the 10-time Pro Bowl signal-caller again gave Jones the ball, despite concerns along the offensive interior.

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 30: Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers rushes during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

"I was taken aback. I was like, 'Hey, y'all gotta start passing the ball, don't y'all?'" Bills edge defender Von Miller said when asked about his team's reaction to the Packers' conservative approach.

To illustrate how little confidence the team has in its wide receivers, the offensive line and Rodgers' ability to make something out of nothing, the 38-year-old veteran attempted only 16 passes for 74 yards with 10 minutes to play and still trailing by 17 points. Eventually, the offense tacked on a 37-yard touchdown pass to rookie Samori Toure in garbage time.

Toure, a seventh-round selection, and fourth-round rookie Romeo Doubs being the only two to make any plays of significance in the passing game screams incompetence in properly building around the league's highest-paid quarterback at $50.3 million annually.

"Nobody's going to give us a chance going to Buffalo on Sunday Night Football with a chance to get exposed," Rodgers told reporters last week. "Shoot, this might be the best thing for us."

Rodgers hit the nail on the head, just not in the way he intended.

The quarterback thought the contest could become a catalyst for a regular-season revival. The opposite happened.

If those in Green Bay's locker room hadn't realized it already, the Packers aren't on the Bills' level. Rodgers and Co. aren't serious Super Bowl contenders with the current roster construction. Some late offensive movement doesn't change that fact.

Green Bay must take an aggressive approach to fix the roster.

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 30: Christian Watson #9 of the Green Bay Packers receives attention after suffering an injury during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Going into Monday's game, Randall Cobb (ankle) and Allen Lazard (shoulder) had already been ruled out due to injuries. To make matters worse, second-round rookie Christian Watson suffered a concussion in the first quarter.

Those injuries still don't excuse the fact general manager Brian Gutekunst and his predecessor, Ted Thompson, consistently failed to place high-end skill position talent around Rodgers.

The running gag at this point is that Green Bay hasn't selected a wide receiver in the first round since Javon Walker in 2002. To put that number into context, Watson had yet to turn three years old when that happened.

Very little time remains to rectify this situation, especially after trading the game's best wide receiver, Davante Adams, to the Las Vegas Raiders this past offseason.

Adams proved to be an anomaly. The 53rd overall pick in the 2014 draft developed over time to eventually become Rodgers' security blanket. He learned from veterans Jordy Nelson and Cobb. Recently, the young options haven't had the same luxury. And they've disappointed.

"Guys who are making too many mistakes shouldn't be playing," Rodgers said during his most recent appearance on the Pat McAfee Show (h/t The Athletic's Matt Schneidman). "Gotta start cutting some reps."

So where do the Packers turn for the help they so desperately need? A few names should be in the mix.

"The Packers have held talks about acquiring a receiver, sources say, but nothing has transpired as of yet," NFL Network's team of reporters noted. "GM Brian Gutekunst will keep talking, and time will tell if they can come to a deal—which has been a rarity for Green Bay."

According to theScore's Jordan Schultz, Green Bay prefers a deal for a wide receiver still on his rookie deal. Currently, the Packers have $7.5 million in financial flexibility to make a move, per Spotrac.

Three immediate options jump to the forefront based on need and preference.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox (29) breaks up a pass attempt to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) during the game between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles on October 30, 2022 at  Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers' Chase Claypool-to-the-Packers rumor has been floated over the last few weeks because a potential deal makes sense.

The Steelers are invested in Diontae Johnson and second-round rookie George Pickens. Claypool has flashed, but he's been highly inconsistent.

For Green Bay, the 6'4", 238-pound target can immediately add a weapon to work outside the numbers and down the field. Watson was supposed to fill that role, but he struggled with injuries, which has hampered his development.

Elijah Moore wants to be traded by the New York Jets. The second-year wide receiver requested a trade prior to Week 7, per the New York Post's Mark Cannizaro.

Even when the Jets have the shifty threat on the field, he's not utilized. Quarterback Zach Wilson targeted Moore exactly once during Sunday's 22-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

When asked about his lack of usage, Moore told reporters, "I don't even know. I couldn't even tell you. I don't get the ball. I don't know."

The Denver Broncos' Jerry Jeudy is another name that's been bandied about in recent weeks, though he's starting to come alive in the team's offense with 13 receptions for 159 yards over the last two weeks.

Maybe Green Bay opens its wallet a little more and seriously entertain the possibility of the Houston Texans' Brandin Cooks and New England Patriots' Nelson Agholor or Kendrick Bourne. The organization should also inquire about the availability of the Arizona Cardinals' Rondale Moore, Carolina Panthers' DJ Moore and New York Giants' Darius Slayton.

Any of these aforementioned options would upgrade the talent found on the outside of the Packers' offense.

The offensive line may still be an issue as the group continues to shuffle blockers in and out of the lineup. But David Bakhtiari's full-time return to left tackle is a promising step forward. Eventually, Elgton Jenkins will be back from his current foot injury and complete the unit.

When that occurs, and after the Packers make a move at wide receiver to help Rodgers and complement the team's talented running backs, Green Bay may have a chance to make a run, get into the playoffs and try to make some noise.

Right now, Rodgers looks closer to walking out of the door after this season than being excited about what comes next. A little power boost out wide could provide a jolt to everyone in the building, including the locker room's most important voice.

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.