It’s cliché to say that the NFL is a business, but there’s no other way to think of it to stay sane as a fan. We lost Brett Favre after a devastating NFC Championship loss. We lost Josh Sitton right before the season. We watched Micah Hyde turn into an All-Pro after playing out of position for four years. And now we look on Twitter during March Madness and see “Davante Adams traded to the Raiders.” It hurts to lose a superstar, likely future hall of famer. It’s impossible for it not to. Life moves on.
It’s Not The End of The World
Let’s start by acknowledging that it’s fine to feel that pit in your stomach when thinking about this trade, but also to understand that maybe the Packers will still be alright. Maybe they’ll be better off in the long run.
The team reportedly received an extra first round pick and an extra second round pick for Adams. They’ll also have over $20mm of additional cap space this season. That’s a lot of ammo for a GM like Brian Gutekunst. One who should’ve won executive of the year last season.
It’s already been reported that Rasul Douglas is likely to re-sign with the team now that they have the cap space. There’s a significant chance that the team will have three corners better than the best corner on the team as recently as 2018. Imagine if they can also pull off signing Akiem Hicks or Austin Hooper or Tyrann Mathieu or even bring Za’Darius Smith back again. This team will be better in a lot of areas next season.
Let’s also not forget that the Packers have been fine in short bursts without Adams. They are 7-0 in the last three seasons. They focus on the run game more. Rodgers plays on schedule. The offense just feels more creative when there isn’t a blazing star like Adams whose gravity pulls the entire offense to him. Whether or not it’s planned that way.
And think about it. Would you rather hear that your team traded a first and a second round pick to pay a soon-to-be 30 year-old wide receiver $4mm per year more than the second highest paid wide receiver? Or would you rather have the picks?
How Do You Replace Adams?
Well to start, you don’t. Not with one player. Over the past two years Adams has been two completely different kinds of superstar receiver. In 2020, he was a de facto run game by himself on RPO passes and now throws. In 2021, he was the best downfield receiver in the league (despite having just 4.55 speed). In those two seasons, the offense revolved around Adams in completely different ways.
The 2022 Packers offense will need to evolve again. The now throws and bubble screens will need to be replaced by Aaron Jones routes and AJ Dillon runs. The downfield passing game will need to be replaced by (name to be filled in later). Rodgers’ trust with Randall Cobb will be more important than ever on third downs.
There will obviously be new players. The best receiver on the roster right now is a glorified tight end, Allen Lazard. The second best is a 57-year-old slot receiver who is my height. I would bet a lot of money that one of those four picks in the top 60 will be for a receiver. It’s possible that two will be.
There will likely be one or two veteran signings as well. Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Will Fuller, and even MVS are all still on the board. And the team suddenly has at least $10mm more in cap space to use.
Some fans don’t like the ever-growing off-season content farm of the NFL. The Packers’ season has been over for two months and we’ve still had almost daily news and talking points. With the draft still six weeks away, there’s plenty of content left.
I love it. The offseason is when anything is possible. It’s when you can daydream about a Packers defense that blitzes a lot and is capable of stopping the run. It’s when you can use fun spread offense concepts in Madden. It’s when you can choose to only watch highlight videos of your favorite players. And now it’s when you can do mock drafts with four Packers picks in the first two rounds.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.