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Why the Green Bay Packers made the right call with the Davante Adams trade

Matt Johnson
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers shocked everyone except Aaron Rodgers with the Davante Adams trade. Dealing away an All-Pro talent – arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL – is a massive gamble for a win-now team. It was also the right decision by general manager Brian Gutekunst.

Everyone should have seen the writing on the wall before the deal went through. The relationship between Adams and Gutekunst soured in 2021 over a gap in contract offers. Green Bay applied the franchise tag this offseason, but Adams bought a house in Las Vegas and seemingly committed to Las Vegas long before any deal was finalized.

Despite the deteriorating relationship between the star receiver and the front office, they tried making things work. Frank Bauer and Kenny Chapman, agents for Davante Adams, confirmed the Packers offered more money and he still chose Las Vegas.

From that angle alone, Green Bay made the only decision it could. Adams only wanted to play for one team, limiting the trade options. That’s just one of the reasons why this deal was the right decision for the Green Bay Packers.

Flexibility without Davante Adams contract

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
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There’s no doubt this is a great trade for Las Vegas. An organization with a recent history of whiffing on picks needed a game-changing player to compete in the AFC West. First- and second-round picks are easily expendable for an organization that needed to bet on something guaranteed. Adams provides that and he’ll make this offense a lot better in the next few seasons.

However, the Packers could potentially get the best end of the deal. Many teams typically try and avoid signing wide receivers to market-setting contracts as they enter their age-30 season. Averaging more than $28 million per season, Adams is now the leader in AAV for non-quarterbacks. Keep in mind, wide receiver is still valued less by NFL teams than edge rusher and offensive tackle.

Both the Atlanta Falcons (Julio Jones) and Dallas Cowboys (Amari Cooper) lived to regret the massive deals they signed with their No. 1 receivers. While Michael Thomas is still with the New Orleans Saints, injuries have kept him sidelined since his record-setting year.

Things could easily work out for the Raiders and they have the cap space to afford the deal. The same can’t be said for Green Bay. Jaire Alexander, an All-Pro talent at cornerback, is due for a contract extension. Likewise, edge rusher Rashan Gary and offensive lineman Elgton Jenkings will soon want long-term deals. All three of those players are younger than Adams and more valuable to Green Bay in the next 3-5 years.

This isn’t even mentioning the $20 million in cap space immediately created for 2022 by trading Adams. The Packers can re-sign cornerback Rasul Douglas and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, providing key role players this team needs.

Diversifying the Green Bay Packers offense

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There is no replacing Davante Adams. He is one of the best route-runners we’ve seen in recent years. The chemistry he had with Rodgers is unmatched, his playmaking ability is out of this world and opponents are forced to use double coverage against him.

At times, though, Rodgers became too focused on his favorite weapon. Plenty of that can fall on a lack of trust with the other receivers, which can be blamed on the quarterback. No matter how you slice up who is at fault, it proved costly in the NFC Divisional Round against the San Francisco 49ers.

It can’t happen anymore. A passing attack that funneled 11 targets to Adams each week must now spread those around. It also means head coach Matt LaFleur can do something new in his offense, tailoring the plays to better take advantage of what’s available rather than having Rodgers funnel everything through one player.

Assuming MVS re-signs with the Packers, it will give Rodgers three receivers he already trusts (Lazard, MVS, Cobb). None of those players are No. 1 weapons, though Lazard might be a low-end No. 2 after Rodgers posted a 134.4 QB rating (PFF) when targeting him this past season.

So, Green Bay takes a different approach to the position. Instead of having one elite wide receiver and an average receiving corps, the Packers can build a well-rounded group of weapons.

Already in the market for a veteran pass-catcher, names like Julio Jones, WIll Fuller and JuJu Smith-Schuster and Odell Beckham Jr. are options. That’s only part of the process. Green Bay must also use one of its top picks in a draft class that is rich at wide receiver.

If the Packers take the field in 2022 with Landry, Lazard, MVS and Chris Olave, there should be very little doubt this can be an elite offense again. It will look different than fans are used to, but an elite quarterback operating behind a top-10 offensive line with a great rushing attack makes things easier for the receivers.

The bottom line

Packers fans will never see another connection like the Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams combo. But this trade provided necessary cap space and top picks to build a deeper roster that is more well-rounded. Ultimately, that could be the difference that finally brings the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay.