Amari Rodgers

WR Rumors: Diggs, Texans, Panthers, Hamler

Week 10’s VikingsBills thriller featured Stefon Diggs‘ first game against his former team. The 2020 trade that sent Diggs to Buffalo and a compensation package headlined by a first-round pick (Justin Jefferson) to Minnesota became one of the great win-win trades in modern NFL history. Diggs voicing his frustration about the Vikings’ run-heavy offense in 2019 led to Bills interest, laying the groundwork for the 2020 swap. Diggs requested a trade in October 2019, but after meetings with Vikings brass, the sides agreed to shelve the matter until 2020, Tim Graham of The Athletic reports (subscription required).

After a season in which Diggs drew just 94 targets in 15 games, the Vikings worked with the wideout’s agent to find a fit. The Jets and Patriots reached out, and Graham adds the Texans were in the mix as well. A Texans trade would have been interesting, considering they ended up trading DeAndre Hopkins on the same day Diggs was ultimately dealt. Houston ended up acquiring Brandin Cooks later that spring. Diggs did not ask for a new contract from the Bills immediately. His camp worried an extension request upon arrival would scuttle a potential deal, Graham adds, but the Bills understood money needed to be moved to accommodate the trade asset. Buffalo did so later that summer. Diggs ended up playing two years on his 2018 Vikings-constructed deal before inking a four-year, $96MM Bills pact this offseason.

Both Diggs and Jefferson are 2-for-2 in Pro Bowls since the trade, with both heading toward more accolades this year. Jefferson will be eligible for a monster extension in 2023. Here is the latest from the NFL’s receiver landscape:

  • Although the Texans used their No. 1 waiver spot to claim Amari Rodgers on Wednesday, Field Yates of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) the Panthers also submitted a claim. The Panthers have D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall signed to long-term deals but recently changed up their receiver situation by trading Robbie Anderson. Houston now has Rodgers, a 2021 third-round pick whom the Packers cut this week, signed through 2024.
  • Injury problems have hindered the Broncos throughout the season, and their receiver situation — one already affected by Tim Patrick‘s training camp ACL tear — took another hit last week when KJ Hamler went down in practice. Hamler’s hamstring injury sidelined him for Denver’s Week 10 game, and Nathaniel Hackett said (via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, on Twitter) the third-year wideout is expected to miss “a few” more weeks due to the injury. A former second-round pick, Hamler is coming off a season marred by an ACL tear and a hip injury. The young deep threat drew interest at the trade deadline, but the Broncos opted to stand pat at receiver. Hamler has just seven catches for 165 yards this season.
  • Conversely, Jerry Jeudy is believed to have avoided a major setback. Jeudy suffered an ankle injury early in the Broncos’ Week 10 loss to the Titans; he was carted off the field. But the Broncos believe the former first-round pick dodged a bullet, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, who notes Jeudy could return this week. Jeudy, who also left a Week 2 game due to an ankle injury before returning in Week 3, has 30 receptions for 449 yards this season.

Texans Claim WR Amari Rodgers

For a second straight day, the Texans will use their top spot in the waiver priority to land a skill-position player. After acquiring Eno Benjamin, Houston made a claim for Amari Rodgers on Wednesday, according to ESPN.com’s DJ Bien-Aime (on Twitter).

Struggles in his return-game role and an inability to see much playing time on offense led the Packers to waive Rodgers. The Texans are picking up his third-round contract, which runs through 2024.

Although Wednesday’s waiver report will not surface until this afternoon, the Texans making a claim renders every other team’s interest irrelevant. At 1-7-1, Houston is first in line to add recently cut players. The team will take a look at Rodgers, who disappointed after being a key Green Bay wide receiver investment.

The only Packers receiver draftee from 2019-21, Rodgers never established himself in Matt LaFleur‘s offense. He has also run into extensive fumbling problems. His five fumbles lead all non-quarterbacks this season. Rodgers’ most recent fumble, coming in the Packers’ Week 10 win over the Cowboys, led the team to cut bait.

Rodgers has not accumulated many stats as a pro, playing just 201 offensive snaps in two seasons and making only eight catches for 95 yards. But he established himself as a Day 2 prospect during a promising senior season at Clemson. The 5-foot-9 slot player became Trevor Lawrence‘s top target in 2020, taking over for Tee Higgins amid Justyn Ross‘ full-season absence. Rodgers caught 77 passes for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns for that Tigers iteration, leading the Packers to draft him 85th overall.

Rodgers, 23, will join a receiving corps that, for now, houses Brandin Cooks. The disgruntled wide receiver, despite signing an extension in April, had hoped for a trade at the deadline. When nothing materialized, an impasse between the veteran and the Texans ensued. Cooks missed the Texans’ Week 9 game but played against the Giants. The team has stripped Cooks of his captaincy. The Texans will pair Rodgers with another 2021 third-rounder, Nico Collins, who went off the board four picks after the Clemson product. Houston also has 2022 second-rounder John Metchie under contract, but the Alabama product is out for the season due to a leukemia battle.

It makes sense for the Texans to take fliers on players like Rodgers and Benjamin. Both are under rookie-deal control for multiple seasons, and the team does not have many solidified long-term contributors just yet. Although the Texans’ 2022 performances are not moving the needle much, with their draft status being the more pertinent topic, seeing how the team uses the recently cut performers will be notable.

Packers Waive Amari Rodgers, Kylin Hill

Less than two seasons into his Packers rookie contract, Amari Rodgers is no longer with the team. Green Bay waived the former third-round pick Tuesday.

This move comes after Rodgers muffed a punt against the Cowboys, continuing a rough season in this role. The Packers also waived running back Kylin Hill, who joined Rodgers in being part of their 2021 draft class.

Not only was Rodgers unable to carve out a role in Green Bay’s receiving corps, he struggled consistently in the special teams gig he earned. Rodgers has fumbled five times this season, losing two of those. The Clemson product’s five fumbles lead all non-quarterbacks this season. With the exception of Melvin Gordon, no other non-QB has more than three fumbles in 2022.

It is still somewhat surprising the Packers moved past demoting Rodgers, 23, from his return role to taking him off the roster altogether. The slot receiver represented a key investment by a team famous for not reaching for first-round pass catchers. From 2019-21, Rodgers was the only wideout the Packers selected. But Rodgers failed to make strides in the team’s offense this offseason, one that featured three receiver investments in the draft. All three of those cogs — Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samore Toure — have played ahead of Rodgers on offense.

The Amari Rodgers pick (No. 85 overall) came at a pivotal point on the franchise’s timeline. A day earlier, Aaron Rodgers‘ trade request became public. Lack of investment at wide receiver was among Aaron Rodgers’ issues with the franchise, one that passed on a wideout move to trade up for Jordan Love in 2020. Amari Rodgers wraps his Packers career with eight receptions for 95 yards and no touchdowns.

It will be interesting to see if another team takes a flier on the former Trevor Lawrence college target. Playing alongside the likes of Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross at Clemson, Rodgers worked as a regular during Lawrence’s three-year run as the Tigers’ starter. In 2020, he improved his stock with a 77-catch, 1,020-yard, seven-touchdown campaign. Even as injury and performance issues plagued this year’s Packers receiver crop, Rodgers did not secure a notable role. He has played 98 offensive snaps this year.

As for Hill, he has spent much of his career battling back from injury. A former seventh-round pick, Hill suffered an ACL tear midway through last season. The injury recovery dragged into this season. The Packers did use one of their injury activations on the Mississippi State product this season, taking Hill off the reserve/PUP list. It will be interesting to see if Hill is a candidate to stay with Packers via a practice squad agreement. He must clear waivers in order to be eligible for that path.

Hill, 24, zoomed onto the draft radar with a 1,350-yard 2019 season, but he opted out of the 2020 campaign and ended up becoming a seventh-round pick. The 214-pound back has 11 career carries for 31 yards as a pro.

Development Of Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs Will Influence Aaron Rodgers’ Retirement Decision

It seems likely that the playing future of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will once again be a prominent storyline when the calendar turns to 2023. Although the extension he signed this offseason is effectively a three-year, $150MM accord, Rodgers is not necessarily guaranteed to play out the life of the contract.

Indeed, as Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal writes, the development of rookie wideouts Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson will be instrumental in Rodgers’ decision-making process. Green Bay has not drafted a receiver in the first round since 2002, and that fact is frequently mentioned in reports discussing Rodgers’ sometimes strained relationship with the club. After the Packers traded Davante Adams this offseason — a trade made necessary when Adams, noting Rodgers’ uncertain future, declined to sign an extension with Green Bay — it stands to reason that the progress made by Rodgers’ young weapons will factor into his 2023 plans.

It appears that the Packers missed the mark when they selected Amari Rodgers in the third round of the 2021 draft. The Clemson product appeared in only 103 offensive snaps in his rookie year and has seen just four offensive snaps thus far in 2022. He is floundering at or near the bottom of Green Bay’s WR depth chart, and even his kick return duties may be in jeopardy. As of the time of this writing, the Packers are in the midst of their Week 5 contest against the Giants in London, and Watson has been handling kickoff returns (Amari Rodgers is still back deep for punts, but he has fumbled a punt return).

Doubs and Watson, though, offer more hope. Doubs, selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, has been targeted 16 times over the past two games and has reeled in 13 catches for 120 yards and two TDs. Watson, a second-round pick, has not seen as much action, but Rodgers was effusive in his praise of both players.

“I think both guys can be ‘dudes,'” Rodgers said during his recent appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. “It’s going to be, how does their confidence progress? How many plays can they lock and anchor into their mind as places to go back to and think about when they’ve maybe had a stretch where they haven’t played their best ball or maybe they need some inspiration? … But I think they both have opportunities to be really, really good players in the league.”

If Doubs and Watson progress as Aaron Rodgers hopes, they could find themselves as the team’s top WR options in 2023. Indeed, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Sammy Watkins are all out of contract at season’s end, and Amari Rodgers’ hold on his roster spot seems tenuous at best. In a scenario where Doubs and Watson have proven themselves worthy, Aaron Rodgers may want to stick around for at least one more year to reap the rewards.

“Look, my decision, when it comes down to it, will be, obviously, the physical part, the mental part, seeing where the team is at,” Aaron Rodgers said. “There’s some moving pieces that’ll factor in, for sure. But seeing the development of [Doubs and Watson] can’t help but be a part of the decision.”

After a Week 1 dud against the Vikings, the Packers have won three in a row. Aaron Rodgers has completed 69% of his passes and has thrown six TDs against three interceptions.

Packers WR Amari Rodgers Near Bottom Of Depth Chart

Packers wide receiver Amari Rodgers was the only pass-catcher the team selected in the 2021 draft, and following the offseason departures of wideouts Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown, it was fair to expect Rodgers to assume a larger role in 2022. However, it appears that Rodgers is currently near the bottom of the WR depth chart, and as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, it’s unclear if that will be changing in the near future.

Rodgers appeared in only 103 offensive snaps in his rookie year, and his primary contributions came as a return specialist. That trend continued in Green Bay’s 2022 opener against the Vikings, as Rodgers did not see any action on the offensive side of the ball and returned one kickoff for 14 yards and one punt for 12 yards. Meanwhile, rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs saw 40 and 35 offensive snaps, respectively, while veterans Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins enjoyed similar usage rates. After missing the Minnesota contest, Allen Lazard is expected to return for Sunday’s game against the Bears, which will serve as yet another obstacle to playing time for Rodgers.

Silverstein says Watson and Doubs “are the priority” when it comes to getting snaps to young receivers, and when asked about Amari Rodgers during his Wednesday press conference, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said simply, “he’s returning [kicks] for us right now. That’s all I got.” Amari Rodgers did not take offense to that statement, saying, “I mean, that’s what I am. He’s really speaking fact. I can’t do nothing about that.”

Still, it’s a disappointing development for a player who was a third-round draft choice just one year ago, who lost 20 pounds over the offseason, and who finished the preseason in strong fashion (Amari Rodgers lined up at wide receiver and running back in the Packers’ preseason finale against the Chiefs and notched four catches for 39 yards and three carries for 17 yards). After getting more reps out of the backfield towards the end of training camp, he is, at least, the third RB on the depth chart as of the time of this writing.

Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich does expect Amari Rodgers to have a role on the offense this year. “Where you are Week 1 doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you’re going to be Week 5,” Stenavich said. “So, I wouldn’t say he doesn’t have a role. He has a role. He’s going to have some sort of role on the field this year.”

For now, though, it looks like Amari Rodgers will need to continue trying to get the coaches’ attention in practice and as a returner or running back. With five receivers above him in the pecking order, he has a long way to go to earn a meaningful spot as a wideout this year.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/4/22-1/5/22

Here are Tuesday and Wednesday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Jared Cook, LB Damon Lloyd (remains on IR)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Packers Sign Third-Round WR Amari Rodgers, Finalize Draft Class

Ahead of their training camp, the Packers will have their rookie contingent signed up. For several weeks, Amari Rodgers resided as the lone unsigned Packer draftee. The team changed that Friday, inking its third-round wide receiver pick to the standard four-year rookie deal.

A Clemson product who played a key role on each of the Tigers’ three Trevor Lawrence-led teams, Rodgers continues the line of Green Bay Day 2 receiver investments. However, the Packers have not taken a Day 2 wideout since Ty Montgomery — whom the team reconverted to running back early in his career — in 2015. Green Bay has experienced success with second- or third-round receiver picks during the Aaron Rodgers era — Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, dating back to 2007 — and selected Amari Rodgers at a crucial juncture on its timeline.

The Packers have major questions about the status of their passing attack. Aaron Rodgers remains AWOL, having turned down an extension offer that would have made him the NFL’s highest-paid player again. The disgruntled quarterback has not shown for Packers workouts this offseason and is not expected to report to camp on time. Adams has also become frustrated with the franchise, breaking off extension talks ahead of his contract year.

Green Bay will be deeper at receiver this season, however. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard remain under contract, and 2020 free agency add Devin Funchess — a COVID-19 opt-out last year — is back in the fold.

A 5-foot-9 slot cog at Clemson, Amari Rodgers should add some juice to this aerial attack. With Tee Higgins leaving early for the NFL and Justyn Ross out for the season with an injury, Rodgers led Clemson in receiving last season en route to becoming this year’s No. 85 overall pick. He finished with 1,020 yards in 12 games, surpassing his combined total from the 2018 and ’19 seasons.

While it remains uncertain if a Rodgers-Rodgers connection will materialize, the Packers have the makings of an improved receiving corps in 2021. Here is how Green Bay’s draft class breaks down going into camp:

Round 1: No. 29 Eric Stokes, CB (Georgia) (signed)
Round 2: No. 62 Josh Myers, C (Ohio State) (signed)
Round 3: No. 85 (from Titans) Amari Rodgers, WR (Clemson) (signed)
Round 4: No. 142 Royce Newman, OG (Ole Miss) (signed)
Round 5: No. 173 Tedarrell Slaton, DT (Florida) (signed)
Round 5: No. 178 Shemar Jean-Charles, CB (Appalachian State) (signed)
Round 6: No. 214 Cole Van Lanen, G (Wisconsin) (signed)
Round 6: No. 220 Isaiah McDuffie, LB (Boston College) (signed)
Round 7: No. 256 Kylin Hill, RB (Mississippi State) (signed)