Jeff Janis’ time with the Green Bay Packers could be coming to an end.
Janis, an unrestricted free agent in March, hasn’t been able to convert his combination of size, speed and athleticism into production as a wide receiver.
He’s made some spectacular plays along the way (See: Arizona), but they’ve been few and far between.
The seventh-round pick has maintained a spot on the roster due to his excellent special teams work. But will it be enough to land him a second contract with the Packers?
Some of Janis’ best work has come as a gunner on punt coverages. His ability to fly down the sideline and either force a fair catch or quickly take down the returner quickly impressed.
Janis has also been used occasionally as a return man himself. He’s returned 23 kicks for 568 yards, but his production has dropped each year. His longest went for 70 yards in 2015.
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But after four years, he’s never developed into the wide receiver the Packers hoped he would. Since being drafted in 2014, Janis has made just 17 receptions for 200 yards and a touchdown.
After a couple of spectacular grabs in the divisional round loss to Arizona two years ago, Janis proved he has talent.
That night, he saved the Packers’ season twice. He was able to shake off defenders and get open deep down field on a fourth-and-20 from Green Bay’s own end zone. He then made that catch on Aaron Rodgers‘ Hail Mary to force overtime.
Janis is a tremendous athlete and has lightning speed. That’s worth a lot in the NFL.
But he’s been unable to refine his game as a receiver to this point. Janis has a limited route tree. Cornerbacks gave him a big cushion to protect the deep threat, and once that was gone, Janis struggled.
It’s entirely possible GM Brian Gutekunst lets Janis test the waters in free agency, then if he’s still available after a couple of weeks, re-signs him to a one-year deal at a low cost.
The Packers would benefit from his work on special teams. And it’s also possible that Mike McCarthy’s decision to rewrite the playbook with returning offensive coordinator Joe Philbin could lead to some creative ways to feature Janis and fellow speedster Trevor Davis.
But that’s far from a guarantee. Janis has long been a fan favorite in Green Bay, but his time with the Packers could be nearing an end.