Wednesday morning brought another blockbuster deal in the NFL’s off-season whirlwind as another contract dispute between the star receiver and his team led to a trade. This time Tyreek Hill heads to the Miami Dolphins to pick up a draft pick. Aside from the obvious comparisons to be drawn between what the Kansas City Chiefs received for the Hill and what the Green Bay Packers received for Adams (whose trading charts will tell you differently), why is this important to Green Bay?
Tyreek Hill is added to a team that has spent meaningful resources in the wide receiving position. They traded significant draft capital for an increase in last year’s drafts and went on to vote for Jaylen Waddle. They also recently signed a three-year contract with Cedrick Wilson with a guarantee of $12.75 million and a total value of up to $23.55 million. Combine that with Hill, and you have three meaningful additions to the group in the last eleven months. These three additions leave a productive receiver out of necessity, and that receiver is the DeVante Parker.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Parker, as I did basically with deep threats with two working hands, but this potential acquisition is perfect for Green Bay. Before I dive into Parker the player, it is necessary to dive into DeVante Parker’s contract due to the Green Bay hat situation. This contract, which runs until 2023, is very easily absorbed by veteran players. This will make a profit of $5.4M on the Miami books (and save $3.34M), while Green Bay will just be on the hook for a maximum of $6.25M this year. Green Bay will have the flexibility to spend some of that money through 2023 by converting some or all but its base salary to 2023 as part of the restructure, bringing the cap to potentially $3.985 million. Green Bay could get more creative by adding a blank year or working through some kind of extension with Parker, though that would require his cooperation. Overall, it’s a very manageable contract from a hat perspective, and not something you see often with veteran players.
Looking at Parker’s numbers in the last two seasons is quite disappointing. He has amassed 103 catches over the past two seasons, but with decent efficiency with a catch rate of just 58.5% and a target per yard of just 7.43. Neither 2020 nor 2021 has been particularly bright by DVOA either, as it is at -4.7% and 0% in those two years, respectively. So why do I miss players who are by definition mediocre? Because quarterback play is important to receiver production, especially receivers like DeVante Parker.
Old Tagovailoa is bad. At least, Tua Tagovailoa played badly. In the last two seasons, Tua has been ranked 18th and 26th on DVOA. Combining the two seasons, he is ranked 28th in the EPA-per-dropback. Tua’s lack of damage really damaged DeVante Parker as his arm strength was almost non-existent and the Dolphins made one of the most conservative passing fouls you’ll ever see. All the jokes made about Ben Roethlisberger? That goes for Tua as well, as their intended air yardage was just 0.3 yards last season (Old 7, Roethlisberger 6.7). The Dolphins attack is built around protecting Tua from his own weaknesses, as well as the foul offensive line he lays in front of him, and they kill what DeVante Parker excels at: winning the field.
According to the PFF, Parker is targeted just nine times in 2021 beyond twenty yards. By 2020, the number will be eleven. In 2019, he was targeted twenty-nine times over twenty yards. Its 20+ share target has doubled in 2019 from 2020-21. Its average target depth fell from 14.74 in 2019 to a combined 11.43 in 2020-21. While the PFF values can be… erratic… their values show relatively small variation over the three years, comfortably in the seventies for all three.
So what’s different in 2019? The answer is midfielder.
If we go back to 2019, we’ll find a much more prolific DeVante Parker. Paired with Ryan Fitzpatrick instead of Southpaw Big Ben will do it for you. Fitzpatrick, known for his gun throwing mentality and ability to push the ball down the field, was a big reason for Parker’s increased production. The airfield Fitzpatrick was referring to that season was 9, a full two yards higher than the 2021 Tua, and the seventh highest in the NFL. Parker racked up career years, posting 16th best DVOA in the league with +14% and second highest DYAR
eight at 283. While his yards-per-reception are only decent with Tua (12.6 and 12.9), with Fitzpatrick they jump to 16.7. In 2019, Parker’s yard-per-target ranked 16th among wide receivers and his adjusted yard-per-route ranked 14th.
. This is a player who has gone out and done all of this with a legit WR1 volume. His 128 targets are 16th in the league, one ahead of Davante Adams.
The fee for Parker should not be high. He has been relegated to WR4 and is coming out of two rather disappointing years with a quarterback unable to facilitate the kind of fouls he makes. If Parker traded more than a day three options, I would be surprised. At Green Bay, he could bounce back — with a quarterback who could deliver the ball to the field and in a role that should allow him to get back to 100+ targets again, while doing very little damage to the Packers hat situation. Let’s change that face mask to green.