Packers free agency: Should Green Bay re-sign Jeff Janis?

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 1: Jeff Janis /

Why the Green Bay Packers shouldn’t re-sign Jeff Janis this offseason.

Green Bay will be looking to upgrade the wide receiver position this offseason, hopefully adding more speed in the process. But, did the Packers already have the player they are looking for in Jeff Janis?

It’s no secret Green Bay has one of the slowest receiving corps in the NFL. Jordy Nelson just doesn’t have the speed he once had and injuries have taken their toll on Randall Cobb. For all the wonderful things Davante Adams has done, he uses more quickness and route-running than speed to create separation.

While Trevor Davis has speed the offense is lacking he has not quite developed into a trusted weapon for the Packers. Geronimo Allison has the size for a possession receiver but lacks the speed to be the guy to take the top of a defense.

The Packers had the measurables they were looking for in Jeff Janis.

Drafted in the seventh round in 2014 out of Saginaw Valley State, Janis was the perfect size and speed prospect (6-foot-3, 219 pounds with 4.42 40-yard time, per Yet he was raw and an unrefined route runner. After four seasons on the Packers roster that is still the case.

During training camp Janis became known as “play a day” due to making one play a day that made the coaching staff take notice. But when it came time for the regular season he mainly saw the field on special teams.

When Janis did work his way into the lineup he usually produced. He did his best work during the 2015 divisional playoff game against the Cardinals. Janis had seven receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Who could forget the two Hail Mary receptions Janis made to send the game into overtime?

That game was thought to be the jumping point Janis needed to push for playing time. It never materialized.

Janis couldn’t get on the same page as Aaron Rodgers and the coaches never seemed to trust him to be in position. Even when injuries hit during the 2016 and 2017 seasons there always seemed to be someone ahead of him.

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One area where Janis did excel was special teams. His work as a gunner on punt coverage was superb. Janis’ speed and size made him tough to cover even when double teamed.

During the 2017 season it was often Janis that made the difference in the return game. Too often Justin Vogel’s punts would end up in the middle of the field setting up a situation for a big return. It was usually Janis first down the field getting there as the returner was catching the ball setting up the tackle or causing a fair catch.

So, should the Packers re-sign Janis?

If it was strictly from a receiving standpoint the answer would be an easy no. Janis had four years to develop as a reliable receiver and never made good. Even with the size and speed that makes coaches and front office personnel drool, he couldn’t quite put it together. Rodgers and the coaching staff lack confidence in Janis and after four years it’s unlikely it would come now.

From a special teams standpoint Janis has done more than enough to warrant a roster position.  His play on punt coverage has helped keep returners in check. The attention he draws also frees up others to make plays.

The question may be made for the Packers. Janis has stated this offseason his desire to find a team that will allow him to play receiver more. So, he may opt to find another team making the question moot.

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While the gunner plays an important role, it’s a role that can be replaced. The Packers will be tight against the cap and signing someone to a multi-million dollar role on special teams is not money wisely spent. With 12 draft picks the Packers can find a receiver or player to replace Janis on special teams with more ability to have a role on offense.