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Aaron Rodgers’ time is running out. His powers are no longer at their peak.
Instead, a power transfer occurred in real time during tracking Sunday night football. The superhero qualities once displayed by the four-time NFL MVP have been bequeathed to a fitting successor in Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills.
As in the DC Films production Black Adam and its upcoming sequel Shazam!, the protagonists’ powers can be transferred to others, who then become the world’s most powerful mortals. The description is apt for Allen’s current position in pro football.
The designation previously belonged to Rogers. What everyone saw Sunday in the Green Bay Packers’ 27-17 loss at Highmark Stadium is a once elite quarterback in decline, unable to carry an offense without the necessary tools to consistently execute at a high level.
Change is necessary, and it is needed quickly. The trade deadline happens to be Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. Green Bay should be buyers despite their disappointing 3-5 record.
The Packers practically waved the white flag at times in what became their fourth straight loss because the roster had multiple injuries at wide receiver and an offensive line in constant flux.
On 3rd and 16, with 1:06 left to play in the first half and two touchdowns down, Rodgers handed the ball to running back Aaron Jones.
On 4th-and-1 from the Buffalo 26-yard line and down 17 points early in the fourth quarter, the 10-time Pro Bowl signal-caller handed the ball to Jones again, despite concerns in the offensive interior.
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“I was surprised. I was like, ‘Hey, you’ve got to start passing the ball, haven’t you?'” Bills linebacker Von Miller he said when asked about his team’s reaction to the Packers’ conservative approach.
In an indication of how little faith the team has in its wide receivers, offensive line and Rodgers’ ability to make something out of nothing, the 38-year-old veteran attempted just 16 passes for 74 yards with 10 minutes to play and still trailed . 17 points. Finally, the offense got going with a 37-yard touchdown pass to rookie Samori Toure in garbage time.
Toure, a seventh-round pick, and fourth-round rookie Romeo Doubs, the only two who have played significantly in the passing game, scream their inability to properly build the league’s highest-paid quarterback at $50.3 million annually.
“Nobody’s going to give us a chance to go to Buffalo Sunday night football with the opportunity to get some exposure,” Rogers said he told reporters Last week. “Shoot, this might be the best for us.”
Rodgers hit the nail on the head, just not in the way he wanted.
The quarterback thought the contest could be a catalyst for a regular season revival. The opposite happened.
If those in the Green Bay locker room hadn’t realized it already, the Packers aren’t on the Bills’ level. Rodgers and Co. they are not serious Super Bowl contenders with the current roster construction. Some late offensive move doesn’t change that fact.
Green Bay needs to take an aggressive approach to building the roster.
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Going into Monday’s game, Randall Cobb (ankle) and Allen Lazard (shoulder) were already ruled out with injuries. To make matters worse, second round rookie Christian Watson suffered a concussion in the first trimester.
Those injuries still don’t excuse the fact that general manager Brian Gutekunst and his predecessor, Ted Thompson, consistently failed to put high-skill talent around Rodgers.
The problem at this point is that Green Bay hasn’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since Javon Walker in 2002. To put that number in context, Watson wasn’t even three years old when that happened.
There is very little time left to remedy this situation, especially after trading the game’s best wide receiver, Davante Adams, to the Las Vegas Raiders this past offseason.
Adams turned out to be an anomaly. The 53rd overall pick in the 2014 draft evolved over time to eventually become Rodgers’ security blanket. He learned from veterans Jordy Nelson and Cobb. Recently, youth options have not had the same luxury. And they have been disappointed.
“Guys who make too many mistakes shouldn’t be playing,” Rodgers said during his most recent appearance on the Pat McAfee report (h/t The Athletic’s Matt Snydman). “I need to start cutting some reps.”
So where do the Packers turn for the help they so desperately need? Some names should be in the mix.
“The Packers have had discussions about signing a receiver, sources say, but nothing has been done yet,” the NFL Network staff of reporters noted. “GM Brian Gutekunst will continue to talk and time will tell if they can come to an agreement – which has been rare for Green Bay.”
According to theScore’s Jordan Schultz, Green Bay prefers a deal for a wide receiver still on his original deal. The Packers currently have $7.5 million in financial flexibility to make a move, per Spotrac.
Three immediate options come to the fore based on needs and preferences.
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Pittsburgh Steelers’ Chase Claypool-to-the-Packers rumors have been circulating for the past few weeks because a potential deal makes sense.
The Steelers have invested in Diontae Johnson and second-round rookie George Pickens. Claypool has flashed, but has been very inconsistent.
For Green Bay, the 6’4″, 238-pound target can immediately add a weapon to work out of the numbers and down the field. Watson was supposed to fill that role, but has struggled with injuries, the which hindered its development.
Elijah Moore wants to be traded by the New York Jets. The second-year receiver requested a trade before Week 7, per the New York PostMark Cannizaro.
Even when the Jets have the heavy threat down the field, it’s not being used. Quarterback Zach Wilson targeted Moore exactly once in 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.”
Jerry Jeudy of the Denver Broncos is another name that has been thrown around in recent weeks, though he has started to come alive in the team’s offense with 13 receptions for 159 yards over the past two weeks.
Maybe Green Bay will open its wallet a little more and seriously entertain the possibility of Brandin Cooks of the Houston Texans and Nelson Agholor or Kendrick Bourne of the New England Patriots. The organization should also inquire about the availability of Rondale Moore of the Arizona Cardinals, DJ Moore of the Carolina Panthers and Darius Slayton of the New York Giants.
Any of those aforementioned picks would upgrade the talent found on the outside of the Packers’ offense.
The offensive line may still be an issue as the team continues to shuffle blocks in and out of the lineup. But David Bakhtiari’s full return to left tackle is a promising step forward. Eventually, Elgton Jenkins will return from his current foot injury and round out the unit.
When that happens, and after the Packers make a move at wide receiver to help Rodgers and complement the team’s talented running backs, Green Bay might have a chance to make a run, get into the playoffs, and try to make some noise.
Right now, Rodgers seems closer to walking out the door after this season than excited about what’s next. A small boost of power could send a jolt through everyone in the building, including the most important voice of the locker room.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.