The Green Bay Packers (3-2) had an emotional 19-17 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens (3-3) on Sunday, but it came at a hefty cost. The Packers, who only have four wide receivers on the active roster, lost star receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb to knee injuries in the win.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said he didn’t believe Jones’ injury was as bad as it had initially seemed, but McCarthy did not have any comment on Cobb after the game. During the second half, Jones was roaming the sidelines with a noticeable limp, while Cobb was on the bench in crutches.
If Jones and Cobb were to miss extended time, the Packers would have some serious trouble moving forward at wide receiver. Most likely, the team would promote rookie Myles White from the practice squad to the 53-man roster … or they could go in a different direction.
The Packers should at least consider bringing former wide receiver Donald Driver out of retirement. Driver, the Packers’ all-time receptions leader, retired in February. During his time in Green Bay from 1999-2012, Driver was a fan favorite, a Super Bowl champion and a dancing machine (Driver won “Dancing With the Stars”); but most importantly, he was a class act.
It’d be somewhat weird bringing back a player who already has a statue built in his honor and has a street named after him (Donald Driver Way) in downtown Green Bay. With increasing injuries at wide receiver though, adding Driver wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Packers GM Ted Thompson typically doesn’t like to sign notable free agents during the season and he prefers to build his team from within. Adding Driver would be a much different situation though because of the mutual familiarity between him, the coaches and other players. With half of the receiving core seriously battered and bruised up from Sunday, this could be one of the few exceptions where Thompson would add a notable player via free agency.
If the Packers have doubt adding White and/or Johnson to the 53-man roster, Thompson needs to at least consider asking Driver if he would like to come out of retirement for an extended period of time.
I want to be absolutely clear: it is very doubtful that the Packers will bring Driver back because of his age (38-years old) and poor production during his final season in Green Bay, where undrafted rookie Jarrett Boykin was activated in his place at the end of the season. Even though Driver caught 743 passes for 10,137 yards and 61 touchdowns in his career, he played in only 13 games last season, catching eight passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
A retired player like Driver wouldn’t likely return to the field to be a no. 4 wideout and to sit on the bench. If Driver were to come out of retirement, he’d likely have to be guaranteed an important role in the offense. But, if the Packers didn’t feel confident in the players they have now and feel they need to find a wideout in free agency to help make up for their crucial injuries, then Driver should be the top guy on the list of names to contact.
Driver said earlier this offseason he’d come out of retirement if only the Packers asked or needed him to play. I’d say Driver is probably sitting by his phone waiting for the bell to ring. Just make the call Thompson — it really can’t hurt.
If Driver declines any possible invitation to return to the field, then so be it; Green Bay will just continue rocking the “Packer Way”.