The Green Bay Packers traded away All Pro wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders for a first and second round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Packers essentially had no choice as Adams indicated to management that he only wanted to play for the Raiders and to be reunited with his friend and college teammate Derek Carr.
As a result of the trade, the Packers will have to revamp their wide receiver room. Adams is now with the Raiders while Marquez Valdes-Scantling has signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent. Presently, the receivers left on the depth chart are led by Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers none of whom are considered legitimate number one receivers on an NFL roster.
We still don’t know who Packers GM Brian Gutekunst will acquire to fortify the wide receiver position. It will likely involve a combination of free agent signings, trades and draft choices. Expect the Packers to have at least two new receivers who will bolster the talent at the position before training camp opens.
But regardless of who the Packers add at wide receiver, the loss of Adams and MVS will change the dynamics of the Green Bay offense in 2022.
The Packers have the dynamic duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon as their top two running backs. They give the team a strong one-two punch and they have contrasting running styles and strengths. Jones is more of an outside speed back who makes one cut and can break a long gainer on any play. Dillon more of an inside runner who is difficult for defenders to bring down one-on-one.
But one thing we know about both Jones and Dillon is that they are both talented receivers. Jones had a career-high 52 catches last year and added six touchdown passes. He also went over 100 yards receiving in the Packers playoff game against the 49ers including a 75-yard catch and run just before halftime that set up a field goal attempt by Mason Crosby.
Scouts were not sure whether Dillon would be a good receiver in the NFL because he was rarely asked to catch the football at Boston College. But Dillon proved himself to be a dependable pass catcher and in 2021, showed he could run downfield patterns and do more than just catch screen passes. He had 34 catches for 313 yards and two receiving touchdowns last season.
In recent seasons, Rodgers tended to lock in on his favorite target, Adams, when the Packers needed a big catch. That obviously will not be the case in 2022. The Packers quarterback will have to spread the ball around more. Last season, Rodgers attempted 531 passes and Adams was targeted 169 times or almost 32 percent of the time. When you add the fact that Adams missed one game, the percentage gets even higher.
Rodgers also has a history of having a tough time developing trust with new receivers. Rookies and newly acquired players often need time to develop chemistry with Rodgers so that the quarterback feels comfortable with their ability to run precise routes and be in the right place at the right time when plays break down and receivers need to improvise.
Since a high draft pick or a new veteran will need time to learn how to work with Rodgers, the Packers top two running backs will likely be a bigger part of the passing game especially early in the 2022 season. Both Jones and Dillon can run routes downfield or serve as outlet receivers if the quarterback is under pressure and needs to get rid of the ball quickly. Expect both running backs to catch more passes as a result.
Head coach Matt LaFleur may also opt to run the football more frequently until Rodgers is more comfortable with the new additions to the wide receiver room. This would also mean the Packers will rely more on Jones and Dillon to play a bigger role in the offense.
This may change before the 2022 season is over depending on how quickly the new receivers develop chemistry with Rodgers. But it is likely that the Packers top two running backs will be relied upon even more when the new season gets underway in September.