Donald Driver Could Be Expendable
The talk of [intlink id="64" type="category"]Ryan Grant[/intlink] competing for a roster spot with [intlink id="1280" type="category"]Dmitri Nance[/intlink] and possibly being released shines a light on another Green Bay Packers veteran — receiver [intlink id="76" type="category"]Donald Driver[/intlink].
The 36-year-old Driver, who says he wants to play until he’s 40, can still produce, but he’s coming off his worst season since 2001, when he started only two games. Driver had 51 catches for 565 yards and only four touchdowns in 2010.
He’s scheduled to make $4.8 million in both 2011 and 2012 on a contract extension he signed just last year. It seems unlikely the Packers would ask Driver to take a pay cut only a year after extending his deal, but Grant took a $1 million pay cut earlier this month.
What really clouds the waters is the emergence of a couple young receivers — Tori Gurley and Chastin West.
The Packers coaches and quarterbacks love Gurley’s size — he’s 6’4″ — and the undrafted rookie has made his share of plays during camp.
West, who was on the practice squad last season, seems to be a strong contender for a roster spot after his impressive performance against the Cardinals last week. Even [intlink id="25" type="category"]Aaron Rodgers[/intlink] is singing his praises.
“I think everybody saw toward the end of last year what kind of player he was becoming. He makes a strong case to be on this team. He’s been making it since last year,” Rodgers said.
If you look at the whole group receivers, you know the Packers have some big decisions to make. The team typically keeps five receivers, although they may have to go with six this year.
[intlink id="138" type="category"]Greg Jennings[/intlink], [intlink id="22" type="category"]Jordy Nelson[/intlink], [intlink id="204" type="category"]James Jones[/intlink] and [intlink id="1616" type="category"]Randall Cobb[/intlink] will certainly be on the team. That leaves one or possibly two roster spots for Driver, Gurley and West and assumes [intlink id="596" type="category"]Brett Swain[/intlink], the Packers fifth receiver last season, will be released.
While releasing a popular player like Driver would be a public relations problem for the Packers, it makes sense from a business standpoint.
Do you pay a player who’s regressing close to $5 million per season or do you keep a guy who makes dirt, is young and is only going to get better? That answer is pretty obvious.