Packers must re-sign Davante Adams, regardless of their quarterback

Green Bay Packers, Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Back in 2016, during the “Run the Table” phase of the Green Bay Packers, Davante Adams emerged as a future star wide receiver. However, it was in the 2017 season when Adams truly took the reins from an ageing Jordy Nelson as the team’s WR1, and with Brett Hundley at QB, Adams debunked any theory that his success was simply a product of Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

At the tail-end of that season, Adams signed a four-year contract worth $58 million to stay in Green Bay. In the three seasons since, Davante has easily outperformed that contract. He is coming off a career-year in 2020 where he set the single-season franchise records for receptions and touchdowns despite only playing 14 games.

Now, at 28 years old, Adams enters the final year of his contract with the Packers as the best receiver in football, in the eyes of many. With the confidence that his best years are still ahead of him, Adams intends on becoming the highest-paid wideout in the NFL at the end of this season.

We knew that it was going to be difficult for the cap-restricted Packers to retain Adams, but we always felt like GM Brian Gutekunst would find a way to get it done, even if it meant letting go of other key contributors. Then the Aaron Rodgers offseason saga added a twist to this storyline, and now we can’t be sure what will happen with Adams after the upcoming season.

To his credit, Davante showed up to mandatory minicamp and has already guaranteed that he’ll be at training camp with no intentions of holding out for a new deal. When reporters asked about a potential holdout, Adams didn’t forget where he came from, saying, “I grew up with zero dollars. I’m not forfeiting any of my money that I earned.”

It’s no secret that Davante will be highly recruited to go elsewhere next offseason. His former college quarterback Derek Carr has been more than open to the idea of a Fresno State reunion next year, and Carr’s Las Vegas Raiders easily have the cap space to pay Adams. As a guest on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast, Carr said “I’m going to offer him whatever I’ve got to offer. I’ll buy him a car.” A nice gesture, although I don’t think Adams will need many vehicles bought for him when he signs his new deal.

As tempted as Adams may be by the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, Brian Gutekunst absolutely cannot let his All-Pro pass catcher walk out the door in March 2022. If that means resetting the wide receiver market with a mega deal, then so be it.

If Aaron Rodgers is still in Green Bay for 2021 and beyond, obviously you do whatever is necessary to keep Davante Adams. He and Rodgers share an unmatched chemistry, and those two alone make the Packers’ offense one of the most potent in the league.

However in the case where Aaron Rodgers isn’t in Green Bay after this season, I would argue that it’s even more important for the Packers to keep Adams. Not only would he be pivotal in the development of Green Bay’s next QB, whether that be Jordan Love or someone else, but Adams is a true leader in every sense of the word.

In an age where the term “diva receiver” is common enough to be put in the dictionary, Adams remains a focused and determined individual who’s strictly there to play football. He never views himself as anything greater than the team.

So how big of a contract should Adams get? Packers salary cap analyst Ken Ingalls projects the bare minimum of a contract Adams could sign is four years, $90 million. This, however, wouldn’t trump the contract of the NFL’s current highest-paid receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. If Adams wants to become the highest paid in the league, we’d be looking at a four-year, $112 million deal. Which we can all agree is an enormous amount of money.

Ingalls also notes that it’s rare for the Packers to give third contracts to receivers. Usually once they hit their late 20s, the Packers look to reload at the position through the draft. Jordy Nelson was the last receiver to receive a third contract from Green Bay. Randall Cobb is an example of one who was let walk.

If Adams wants a four-year deal, it would lock him up until he’s 33 years old. The fall-off of star receivers in their 30s is pretty well documented. A.J. Green is a recent example of someone who struggled as the years went on. He was particularly disappointing last season as a 32 year old.

However, one key differentiator between receivers late in their careers is their ability to win in the slot. Something Davante Adams has thrived in, while the likes of Green and other bigger-bodied perimeter guys tend to struggle more.

Right now Adams is best on the perimeter where he can use his crafty release package to defeat press coverage, but Davante was just as dominant in the slot in 2021. He also doesn’t solely rely on speed or strength to win. As raw physical ability catches up with some receivers when they get older, this isn’t really something that should bother Adams.

Larry Fitzgerald is a classic example of a receiver who was able to keep up consistent play well into his 30s. Fitzgerald had relatively average speed, and wasn’t a contested-catch specialist. But he was a skilled route-runner with great awareness in all areas of the game and some of the most reliable hands the league has ever seen.

Much of the same applies to Adams. As Davante gets older, a full-time transition to the slot may take away from his excellent release ability on the perimeter, but it would allow him to get open more frequently, and remain as one of the best in football for years to come.