Rodgers debunks notion of Bryant joining Packers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws during Green Bay Packers Organized Team Activities at Ray Nitschke Field.Photo: Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t expect free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant to be his newest teammate.

The topic initially was floated by Bryant’s former Dallas Cowboys teammate and now ESPN “Monday Night Football” analyst Jason Witten, who predicted last week that the wide receiver could end up in Green Bay because Rodgers “throws that back-shoulder throw so well.”

Rodgers, who is a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player and six-time Pro Bowl selection, essentially poured cold water on Witten’s prediction involving the 29-year-old Bryant.

“Well, we like young receivers, so I’m assuming that’s the way they’re going to keep going,” the 34-year-old Rodgers said. “I don’t know why you’d cut Jordy (Nelson) and bring in Dez.

“But he’s a talented player. He’s going to end up somewhere. If he ends up here, we’ll obviously welcome him with open arms and get him up to speed as quick as possible.”

The Packers parted ways with Nelson — and his salary — shortly after signing offseason acquisition Jimmy Graham to a three-year, $30 million contract in March.

Green Bay features Davante Adams and Randall Cobb at wideout, with third-year receiver Geronimo Allison expected to step up this season. The 24-year-old Allison, an undrafted receiver out of Illinois, has 35 catches and 455 yards with two touchdowns in 25 career games.

The Packers also acquired a trio of wide receivers in the 2018 NFL Draft in Missouri’s J’Mon Moore (fourth round), South Florida’s Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth round) and Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth round).

Bryant, himself, dismissed the notion of going to the Packers — citing “too much history.”

The three-time Pro Bowl selection was referring to his apparent catch during the fourth quarter of the 2014 playoffs that was ruled an incomplete pass after he failed to maintain possession of the ball while going to the ground. The Cowboys went on to lose that game in Green Bay, and the “catch” rule was changed by the NFL this offseason.

Bryant reportedly hasn’t drawn much interest since he was released by the Cowboys on April 13 after eight seasons with the team. He reportedly turned down a multiyear offer from the Baltimore Ravens prior to the 2018 NFL Draft in a bid to find the right fit on a one-year deal that could help secure a bigger contract the following year.

Bryant had a team-leading 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns with Dallas in 2017. He has gone a career-worst 23 regular-season games without a 100-yard performance.

Since signing a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015, Bryant has failed to record a 1,000-yard season or reel in more than eight touchdown receptions in a season.

Bryant was a touchdown machine in the first half of his career with the Cowboys, hauling in 41 scoring passes in a three-season span, capped by a career-high 16 in 2014. He was named a First-Team All-Pro selection that year.

During that spectacular run from 2012-14, Bryant also averaged 91 receptions and put up at least 1,233 receiving yards in each of those seasons.

After missing the 2015 season because of a knee injury, Nelson had a big 2016 season for the Packers with 97 receptions, 1,257 yards and a league-leading 14 touchdown catches.

Nelson’s numbers declined significantly in 2017, when he had 53 catches for 482 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games.

He has since latched on with the Oakland Raiders.

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