The Legacy of Davante Adams as a Packer

What’s the first play that comes to mind when thinking back on the career of Davante Adams as a member of the Green Bay Packers? What is his legacy during his time? The stats and accolades are many, the moments too few.

Adams put together truly monster seasons and was un-arguably one of the top-tier wide receivers of the last two seasons, but arguably the last handful. In that span, Adams and any of the following could legitimately be called the best WR in the NFL: Cooper Kupp, DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Mike Evans.

Adams is in the elite inner-circle of a decade of play and is in line for the Hall of Fame if the latest chapter with the Las Vegas Raiders continues his 100+ catches, 10+ TDs, and 1,000+ yard seasons.

When I think of Adams moments, only a few come to mind. Sadly, as is the mind of a fan, most are negative or neutral.

Early in his career Davante struggled with drops. His second season was the moment when it became obvious he had all the physical tools to be an elite outside receiver in the NFL and the Packers would again have a torch-bearer for peak NFL wide receiver play under Aaron Rodgers, if he could get the drops under control. Of course, he did just that, having some of the surest hands in the NFL currently.

The other moment is a drop in the end zone of the 2020 NFC Championship game. It was low and outside of his body, just off his backside hip, but he had it in his hands and it was dropped. That drop, along with Equanimeous St. Brown’s drop on a two-point conversion changed the entire dynamics of a second half comeback that was being fueled by a 3 INT performance by Tom Brady, deciding to air-mail every single throw (seemingly) since halftime ended.

Adams demanded double-coverage, often beat it, but he struggled to come open in the 2021 NFC Divisional Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers. This isn’t surprising, as all WRs typically have up-and-down performances in the playoffs. It’s about what the 3rd and 4th best skill players do in big moments, what can be schemed for playmakers, and the moments when an elite athlete can break through no matter the defensive scheme. But again, there were no moments to remember. 

Cooper Kupp is a different style of WR than Adams. Comparisons fall flat to me. However — Hopkins, Evans, Jones, and Brown — that style of WR hasn’t fared well in terms of coming home with the Lombardi trophy. Evans and Brown won a Super Bowl as teammates with Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay super team, Jones lost in the worst collapse ever by a team in the Super Bowl, and Hopkins hasn’t really been close with doldrums years in Houston and Arizona.

Outside of Jerry Rice, the wide receiver position does not translate into Super Bowls. The NFL is a QB league in the regular season, and a defense and special teams league in the playoffs. The next few years should emulate the strategy of the Patriots dynasty — elite defense, well-coached special teams, rely on the system to get players open with quick passes to neutralize the pass rush.

The elite play and dynamism are spectacular entertainment, but the time for hardware is now (it’s way past it). Moving Adams is forcing the hand of Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers, there won’t be anyone to throw that hero ball to, or — unsuccessfully — try to keep happy in Green Bay.