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Packers 2021 Free Agents: No tough calls at wide receiver, at least not until 2022

Since the only major contributor among the Packers’ free agent WRs has just two accrued seasons, the decisions at this position are easy to make — unlike across much of the rest of the roster.

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company takes a look at each position group on the Green Bay Packers and provides grades and insight on how they performed in the 2020 season. We also will examine the players on each unit who will be free agents in 2021. Today, we examine the wide receivers.

The Green Bay Packers’ biggest decision at the wide receiver position in 2021 revolves around the question of how and whether to extend Davante Adams’ contract. After an All-Pro season from the veteran in 2020, Adams is set to enter the final year of his contract in 2021.

With the Packers needing to free up salary cap space to get under the expected $181 million cap by March, extending Adams and spreading out much of his 2020 base salary through a signing bonus is one way to make some room. But he, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown all will face contract decisions in 2022 if the team does nothing about them during this season.

Thankfully, the team’s three 2021 free agents at the position face straightforward decisions. Two exclusive-rights free agents should return — one will be an incredibly easy call to retain — while the sole unrestricted free agent should have the opportunity to test the market with the team facing little pressure to bring him back.

Allen Lazard

NFL Experience: 2 accrued seasons
Free Agency Category: Exclusive-rights
Expiring Contract: 1 year, $675,000
2020 Stats: 33 receptions, 451 yards (13.7 Y/C), 3 TDs

One of Brian Gutekunst’s easiest decisions in 2021 will be to give Lazard the exclusive-rights tender for $850,000. That will lock Lazard in for the upcoming season at a price far below his market value. Once using that tender, the Packers could then work with Lazard on a longer-term deal or just let him play out the one-year contract and deal with him becoming a restricted free agent in 2022, when the salary cap should rebound. The latter seems like the more realistic option.

Malik Taylor

NFL Experience: 1 accrued season
Free Agency Category: Exclusive-rights
Expiring Contract: 1 year, $610,000

As with Lazard above, the Packers can offer Taylor a one-year contract at the league minimum, only the amount will be a bit less — $780,000 for a player with one accrued season of experience. This non-guaranteed tender allows the Packers to bring Taylor back to compete for a roster spot and, if he ends up not making the team, cutting him loose with no financial impact.

Tavon Austin

NFL Experience: 8 accrued seasons
Free Agency Category: Unrestricted
Expiring Contract: 1 year, $1.05 million

Austin played for the Packers on the league minimum in 2020, and if he ends up with a job in the NFL next season, it will likely be for the minimum once again. That would allow him to pick up the veteran salary cap benefit.

However, the Packers’ decision on what to do with Austin will likely depend also on whether Tyler Ervin comes back and/or what the Packers end up doing in the 2021 NFL Draft. If they land a shifty gadget player who can return kicks, expect Austin to be looking for a job deep into the summer for the second straight year.