After years of keeping between four or five receivers, the Green Bay Packers might have no choice but to keep six players at that position in 2012, Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.
We know that Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are safe. So is James Jones, who had just 38 receptions in 2011, but averaged nearly 17 yards on those grabs and added seven touchdowns. Jones ranked fourth among receivers in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, which represents the value, per play, over an average receiver in the same game situations.
Beyond that, a mix of the Packers' past and potential future will be vying for the final spot or two. "Dancing with the Stars" champion Donald Driver restructured his contract this offseason, which should keep him safe, but stranger things have happened. The top young candidates are Shaky Smithson, who spent last season on injured reserve, and Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel, both of whom spent 2011 on the Packers' practice squad.
According to a source with knowledge of their contracts, both Gurley and Borel received significant pay increases while on the practice squad last season. While players on that list normally earn $5,700 per week, the Packers paid both receivers as if they were on the 53-man roster ($22,059 per week) for the final three weeks of the regular season. Doing so is usually an indicator that another team was attempting to add that player to their active roster, which was the case with Gurley, who turned down an offer from the Minnesota Vikings. Reischel notes that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted to sign Borel.
The Vikings are just one of the receiver-needy teams that could be keeping a close eye on the Packers' roster cuts this summer. Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was the Packers' offensive coordinator the last few seasons and would certainly have inside information on any non-rookie receiver that shakes free from Green Bay. The same could be said for the Dallas Cowboys, as former Packers receivers coach Jimmy Robinson is now assistant head coach/receivers. The Cowboys lack depth behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and could pounce on the Packers' leftovers.