Megadeal for WR Davante Adams a No-Brainer—Regardless of Who Packers' QB Is

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystJuly 2, 2021

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams plays during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Unless you've been buried neck-deep in a giant wedge of Wisconsin cheddar since April (that's not what "Cheesehead" means, by the way), you know the dominant storyline in Green Bay over the past couple of months has been the murky future of MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers with the Packers.

However, that saga isn't the only major issue looming over the team, as superstar wide receiver Davante Adams is entering the final season of the four-year, $58 million extension he signed in 2017.

With the Rodgers situation, there are no easy answers. No quick solution. And maybe no solution at all that will make everyone happy. But with Adams, the right path is much clearer. The "decision" facing the team really isn't a decision at all.

Pay the man. Make Adams one of the highest-paid receivers in the game. The highest-paid receiver in the game. And do it soon, lest the relationship between player and team follow a similarly dark path as Rodgers'.

Because whether it's the 37-year-old under center in the season opener in New Orleans on Sept. 12 or second-year pro Jordan Love, Adams is nearly as important to the team's offensive success as its quarterback.

The star receiver has given at least some thought to a post-Packers career. While speaking with ABC30's Bri Mellon (via Nick Shook of NFL.com), Adams said that while he's a Packer in the present, he'd welcome the chance to catch passes again from former college teammate (and current Las Vegas Raiders signal-caller) Derek Carr:

"I'll just continue to be me and just let this thing kind of work itself out and see what happens. Obviously, I love Derek to death. We've got a great friendship and we still communicate really, really consistently. He's one of my best friends. Obviously, it would be a dream to be able to play with him. But I'm a Packer now. Until that point when we make that decision, I guess we just gotta, we'll see what happens."

Just the thought of Adams in silver and black was apparently enough to grease the wheels. Not long after that interview, reports began to circulate that the Packers and Adams had begun negotiations on what ESPN's Jeremy Fowler called a "massive contract extension."

Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

Mind you, paying Adams won't be cheap. The league's high-water mark among wideouts in terms of average annual salary is DeAndre Hopkins' $27.3 million per season. The largest total contract owned by a wideout is the five-year, $100 million pact that Amari Cooper got from the Dallas Cowboys in 2020.

Topping Hopkins' number would mean making Adams the NFL's highest-paid non-quarterback—and potentially adding a second contract (along with Rodgers) that's among the dozen or so biggest pacts in the league.

And yet, it's still a choice that isn't one.

Over the past several years, no receiver has been more consistently productive than Adams. Last season, he caught 115 of 149 targets for 1,374 yards and a staggering 18 touchdowns. The scores led the NFL. The catches tied for the most in the NFC with Hopkins. And the yardage placed fourth in the league and third in the conference.

It was the second time in the past three seasons that Adams had over 100 receptions, topped 1,300 yards and scored at least 13 times. He has averaged over 80 receiving yards per game each of the past three campaigns.

When Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus ranked the NFL's best receivers ahead of the 2021 season, it wasn't Hopkins who checked in at No. 1. Or Buffalo's Stefon Diggs. Or Kansas City's Tyreek Hill.

It was the Packers star:

"Adams was the highest-graded (92.2), most valuable (0.9 WAR) and most productive (2.96 yards per route run) wide receiver of the 2020 season. He is indisputably the top player at the position entering 2021. It doesn't matter who lines up across from him — he's a threat on any given play with his route running and release package.

Since 2017, when PFF began tracking single coverage data, no wide receiver has earned a higher grade or recorded more touchdowns (27) on such plays than Adams."

That talent will come in awfully handy for the Packers—no matter who is under center in 2021 and beyond.

For his part, Adams told Fowler that he remains hopeful that fences can be mended between Green Bay and its MVP quarterback.

"Honestly, I'm not a gambling man, so it's tough to say what the chances are on that, but we're all just praying that he comes back. That's my guy. His locker is always going to be there. I don't see him leaving, and I pray that he doesn't. We're all just going to stay in good spirits and just let the chips fall where they may."

The sides appear locked in an uneasy stalemate. Fowler reported that Rodgers and the Packers have at least spoken, but those talks are in the earliest of stages.

With that said, Rodgers' status isn't especially relevant to Adams' extension. It goes without saying that the Packers are better with Rodgers under center than Love. But the Packers desperately need Adams either way.

With the 2020 MVP, the Packers are arguably the biggest obstacle to a second straight NFC title for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But with all due respect to Rodgers and the rest of the roster, the Packers wouldn't have won 13 games each of the past two seasons without Adams. He had more receiving yards in 2020 than the team's Nos. 2 and 3 pass-catchers (wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling and tight end Robert Tonyan) combined.

Morry Gash/Associated Press

If the doomsday scenario does come to pass and Rodgers is traded or sits out the 2021 season, it would obviously be a massive blow to the team's Super Bowl aspirations. But if the Pack can get even league-average play under center from Love, Green Bay could still be in the hunt for a division title in an NFC North where the other three teams all have significant questions.

Love's chances of success are exponentially better with one of the NFL's best receivers to lean on.

Never mind that if this is the end of era and the Packers are about to hit the big yellow "reset" button, that starting over from scratch at both quarterback and wide receiver will only make things that much more difficult in 2022. And 2023. And so on and so forth.

There just isn't a scenario in which it makes an iota of sense for the Packers to wait on an extension for Adams. Use of the franchise tag in 2022 might buy the team another season, but it also risks creating a second straight offseason of bad blood. A compelling argument can be made that Adams is the (green and) gold standard at his position. And at just 28, he is smack in his prime.

Whether it's as part of a ploy to coax Rodgers back into the fold or part of the plan to begin life without him, Green Bay's next step with Adams is crystal clear.

Open the checkbook and give the man his cheddar.