The Green Bay Packers traded All Pro wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday. In exchange, the Packers get the Raiders first round pick (22nd overall) and second round pick (53rd overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Raiders also signed Adams to a five-year contract that makes him the highest-paid receiver in the league. He will average $28.5 million per season under the new deal.
The fallout from this trade will affect the team in many ways both this season and beyond.
First and most obviously, Aaron Rodgers loses his favorite target. Adams has made five straight Pro Bowls and been named All Pro in back-to-back seasons. Last season, the Fresno State alum set Packers franchise records with 123 catches for 1,553 yards and he added 11 touchdowns.
According to published reports, Rodgers knew Adams was not going to return to the Packers when he signed his extension earlier this week. There is little doubt, however, that Rodgers new deal and the way his contract negotiations have played out over the last two offseasons contributed to the Packers being unable to re-sign Adams. There’s irony there but that’s the business end of pro football.
It is possible that not having Adams as a crutch will force Rodgers to spread the ball around more and utilize all his receivers more often. That remains to be seen. One way or the other, Rodgers will have to develop trust in whoever his new receivers are so the offense can remain effective.
The deal also leaves the Packers with some immediate cap relief. By trading Adams, the $20.1 million that his franchise tag was taking up against the salary cap is now off the books. This gives GM Brian Gutekunst the chance to sign a quality free agent receiver or the ammunition to acquire one in a trade.
Wide receiver also becomes the Packers biggest and most immediate need. The team now lacks a legitimate number one and a legitimate number two receiver on the current roster. If the season started right now, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers would be the team’s top three wide receivers. Without Adams, that group will not strike fear in the hearts of most defenses.
It also allows the Packers to possibly bring back Marquez Valdes-Scantling if they want to go that route. Re-signing MVS would give Rodgers another receiver he is familiar with and has a certain level of trust with. It also provides the Packers with speed and the ability to stretch defenses in the short run without relying exclusively on an untested rookie to get that job done.
Prior to free agency, both MVS and the Packers front office stated they had a mutual interest in bringing him back. Now, with more cap space available, that may be possible.
And why limit it to just receivers? The Packers could also have enough cap space to bring back recently released players like Billy Turner or even Za’Darius Smith depending on what kinds of deals can be worked out. Or maybe now it’s easier to re-sign Robert Tonyan. Suddenly, the Packers have the cap space to improve other parts of this roster and fill some depth needs at positions like the offensive line, tight end, safety and other positions.
It also means the Packers now have four of the top 60 picks in this year’s draft. This is important for several reasons. First, it gives Gutekunst and the rest of the front office a chance to add some younger, cheaper talent that will then have two or three years to develop before Rodgers retires. If Gute can hit on some of these picks, it would give the Packers more talent and a little cap relief to counteract some of the dead cap money that will hurt the team once their franchise quarterback decides to retire.
Having four picks in the first two rounds also gives Gutekunst the chance to select one or more high quality receivers in this year’s draft. It is a deep draft at the receiver position. With the extra picks, the Packers can either take a receiver using their own picks or move up and grab a particular receiver they have their eye on if they feel that player could have an immediate impact.
The departure of Davante Adams means the end of an era in Green Bay. Adams was a great Packer for eight seasons. He also handled his departure with class. Throughout the 2021 season, after negotiations on a new deal broke down, Adams remained quiet and didn’t speak through the media or complain. He went about his business and had what was arguably the best season of his NFL career.
Adams is presently second all-time in Packers history with 669 career catches, behind only Donald Driver. He is fourth all-time in receiving yards with 8,121 behind Driver, James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe and he is second in franchise history with 73 touchdown catches behind only Don Hutson.
This trade is a major one for the Packers but it does potentially open some opportunities for the team depending on how Gutekunst handles the extra cap room and the extra picks. Adams was a great player and he will be missed.
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