The Green Bay Packers suffered another disappointing playoff exit this weekend, falling short of a Super Bowl for the 11th consecutive season. With the offseason now fast approaching, team brass will soon have some tough decisions to make on the future of several key players.
The most difficult of those choices regards wideout Davante Adams, the most prized free agent in the 2022 class.
Adams has spent the last eight seasons with the Packers, the club that selected him in the second round of the 2014 draft. He's evolved into one of the league's greats at wide receiver, amassing 669 catches for 8,121 yards and 73 touchdowns in 116 games.
Despite his impressive numbers, Green Bay has never advanced past the NFC Championship Game with Adams on the roster.
The team came close recently—falling short in both the 2020 and 2021 conference title games—but just took an embarrassing 13-10 loss in the Divisional Round to the sixth-seeded San Francisco 49ers.
That defeat exposed several weaknesses in the top-seeded Packers lineup, problems that may not get a chance to be fixed if quarterback Aaron Rodgers decides to exit after being mum on his future in Green Bay.
While the Packers may try to keep Adams around to entice Rodgers to remain in Titletown, it would be a costly choice. PFF is estimating it will cost over $23 million per season to lock Adams down.
If the Packers and Adams can’t come to an agreement on a multi-year contract, the club also has the option of franchise tagging the superstar.
The tag will ring up around $20.12 million for the 2022 season, a sizable chunk for an organization with $247.882 million—the second-most in the league—in commitments, putting them a projected $44.8 million over the cap.
It will be extremely challenging for the Pack to squeeze a new deal in with their current financial restraints. The likelihood of it happening is further reduced by Adams' desire to become the league's highest paid receiver with his next contract.
It's a condition the Packers have been reluctant to agree to and will have even less reason to if Rodgers ends up leaving.
There should be no shortage of competing teams willing to honor those high-paying wishes when Adams hits the open market.
Here's a few spots where Adams could land if and when he leaves Green Bay.
Las Vegas Raiders
It's readily apparent the squad needs more firepower to evolve into a true Super Bowl contender, something Adams could provide that offense in spades.
While the Raiders appear to be a team on the rise—2021 marked only their second winning season since 2003, but they have improved their win percentage in each of the last four years—there is another key reason why this would be an intriguing club for Adams to sign with.
Las Vegas offers Adams the opportunity to play with quarterback Derek Carr again. The two partnered up at Fresno State in 2012-13, enjoying plenty of success during their two years together.
Before entering the NFL together as second-round picks in 2014, the battery linked up for over 3,000 yards and 38 scores with the Bulldogs.
Both players have expressed their desire to team up at the professional level, with Carr calling Adams "one of his best friends" and claiming that he would be recruiting the wideout in free agency.
Adams should be receptive to Carr's pitch, as he said this past June that "it would be a dream to play with [Carr]" again.
If Vegas can land Adams, it would finally provide the team with the No. 1 wideout it has sorely lacked.
The team has great complementary pieces in place with tight end Darren Waller and possession receiver Hunter Renfrow, but desperately needs a playmaker of Adams’ caliber in its receiving corps.
No team will have more cap space to work with this coming offseason than the Miami Dolphins.
Spotrac estimates that the 'Phins are almost $68 million under the projected cap, giving them plenty of funds to go on a free-agency spending spree.
If the team wants to get the best return on its investment, it should look no further than Adams.
The five-time Pro Bowler could be piece that Miami has been missing after the club came up just short of a postseason berth in each of the last two seasons.
With Fuller coming off the books, team brass should be using some of its cash to find a star wideout to augment promising rookie WR Jaylen Waddle in the passing game.
Waddle, the No. 6 overall pick in 2021, racked up 1,015 yards and six touchdowns on 104 receptions in his first pro season.
His presence greatly benefitted second-year signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa, who managed to guide the team to eight wins over its final nine games while dealing with a shaky offensive line and lack of consistent weapons.
Despite expending a top-five pick on him less than two years ago and getting wins in 13 of his first 21 starts, Miami clearly isn't sold on Tagovailoa as a franchise quarterback.
He's been a constant source of trade rumors, but the Alabama product could finally put those to rest if he remains on the roster and has a strong 2022 season.
If Miami wants to find Tagovailoa's true ceiling, it needs to beef up his protection and provide him with an elite veteran wideout like Adams.
The Dolphins have plenty of work to do his offseason—including finding a new coach after their controversial decision to fire Brian Flores—but bringing Adams aboard would be one of the shrewdest moves they could make.
There's a chance that Adams remains in the NFC North even if he leaves the Packers this offseason.
The Chicago Bears make the most sense of the three competing teams in the division that could make a realistic run at the receiver. They are likely going to have a major hole in the receivers' room and plenty of money to throw around after the expected departure of Allen Robinson II.
Robinson just wrapped up an abysmal 2021 season that he played out on a franchise tag. He appeared in just 12 games and recorded a meager 410 yards and one touchdown, a wildly disappointing showing after back-to-back 1,000-plus yard campaigns.
With Robinson almost certainly on his way out, Chicago might be willing to allocate big money towards his replacement.
Adams would be a fantastic acquisition for the club, given his status as one of the most consistent wide receivers over the past decade.
Over the last six seasons, no wideout has had more receiving yardage or touchdowns than Adams. He's been remarkably durable as well, suffering some nagging injuries but still participating in 87 of a possible 97 regular season games in that span.
The Bears need reliability as they prepare to go into Year 2 of the Justin Fields era.
Fields is coming off a trying rookie season, winning just two of his 10 starts while completing 58.9 percent of his passes for 1,870 yards and seven touchdowns against 10 interceptions and 36 sacks.
There is hope for Fields, however, as he earned the second-highest overall PFF grade of any rookie quarterback last year and showed flashes of brilliance.
While Fields couldn't establish a rapport with Robinson, he showed plenty of chemistry with Darnell Mooney. That connection aided the second-year receiver in a breakout year, one in which Mooney reeled in 81 of his 140 targets for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns.
While finding offensive line help should be at the top of the Bears' offseason to-do list, adding one of the NFL's best receivers into the mix would do just as much to jump-start the development of their 22-year-old signal-caller.