Davante Adams is the best receiver in the NFL. His release is regularly studied by the other top players in the game and his “late catch” technique beffudles defenders and entertains fans like no other before him.
He’s one of the most talented, recognizeable, and likeable players on the team.
His contract is up at the end of the year (along with every other receiver on the team), and it seems like a foregone conclusion that the team will re-sign him.
He’s their best receiver.
He’s the only receiver on the team that’s ever even had a 1,000 yard season.
He’s MVP Aaron Rodgers’s go-to player.
They have to re-sign him.
While the reasons to re-sign him are nearly endless, there are also a few reasons to not re-sign him.
1. They don’t need him
I know, it sounds crazy.
Who doesn’t need the best receiver in the league?
This seemed unthinkable a couple years ago when Adams was the only receiver who could win his 1x1s.
But Matt LaFleur’s offense is nothing like the McCarthy scheme that needed receivers to win their 1x1s (even while running vanilla route combinations). LaFleur’s offense is predicated on scheming guys open and using misdirection to break coverages.
Guys like Allen Lazard and Bob Tonyan – undrafted talents – have thrived in this new offense. Aaron Rodgers posted career numbers and ran away with the MVP, even though only one receiver on the team has any name recognition outside of Green Bay.
This offense uses backs and ends in the passing game way more than the previous regime and the re-signing of Aaron Jones, combined with last year’s draft picks of AJ Dillon and Josiah Deguara, points to an increase in the percent of running plays that the offense uses.
Don’t forget how successful the Packers have been when Adams has missed time, either. The Packers are 6-0 under LaFleur without Adams – and those weren’t all pushovers: each year, the Packers beat a team that went 12-4 when they didn’t have Davante.
2. Cap Crunch
A couple years ago, the Packers made Aaron Rodgers the higest-paid quarterback in NFL history. Then they made David Bakhtiari the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. Oh, they also made Kenny Clark the highest-paid nose tackle in NFL history.
Plus they may soon need to make Jaire Alexander the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history.
That could make it tough to pay Davante Adams, who could aim to surpass DeAndre Hopkins (who make over $27M per year) and become the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history.
The Packers are currently about $27M over the projected 2022 salary cap (per Spotrac, assuming Jaire Alexander’s 5th year option is picked up). That’s a lot of money to find. Even if they cut Aaron Rodgers, they would “only” save $22.6M in 2022.
If Adams, in an unecessary stroke of benevolence, took a below-market deal to align with wide receivers like Amari Cooper and Keenan Allen, he would still get $20M per year. That would put the Packers in a position where they would need to find nearly $50M in cap space in 2022.
Even with a new TV deal, that would be a tight squeeze.
Maybe too tight.
3. The Draft
The draft is coming up and it’s a deep wide receiver class.
Rashod Bateman is a top prospect who could be available for the Packers in the 1st round and many describe as a Davante Adams type of receiver.
Even if the Packers don’t break their streak of avoiding receivers in the 1st round, they could still find a starting caliber receiver on Day 2. The class is actually deep enought that the Packers could pick up a couple contributors on Day 3.
With no receivers under contract for 2022, they may be picking multiple receivers with plans to develop them for the future when all their receivers (including Adams) are scheduled to become free agents.
This would be the dictionary definition of draft and develop (which, incidentally, is how they got Davante Adams in the first place).
Plus, letting Adams walk would certainly net a high compensatory pick, possibly even a 3rd round pick (the highest awarded), to help find another receiver in the future.
So, could it really happen?
Could the Packers let Davante Adams – the best receiver in the game – walk away in free agency?
It’s easy to look at skill positions players on other teams and say “you shouldn’t pay them that much,” but it gets a little harder when it’s a likable guy on your favorite team – a guy who is absolutely at the top of his game and worthy of the title Best Receiver In The League.
Still, it’s a business, and the Packers just let the best center in the league walk.
Throw in the fact that Davante Adams will turn 29 this season and you have to wonder: given their cap situation, how the offense is designed, and the upcoming draft, would they give a 30 year-old receiver a huge contract?
Drop a comment below to let me know how you would handle the situation.
Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Author of books such as A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan’s Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and PackersForTheWin.com.
Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @PackersForTheWn.