In an absolute shocker of a move, the Green Bay Packers have traded superstar wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for a first and second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
There wasn't much speculation a trade was coming, though Adams made it known he wasn't going to play under the franchise tag. According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN, both quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Adams knew a trade was in the works throughout the weeks prior, even prior to Rodgers signing his massive extension.
Let's dive into what this means for both franchises.
The Raiders have elected to make a power play for the league's best receiver, reuniting him with his college quarterback, Derek Carr. Adams slides seamlessly into the No. 1 wide receiver role for the Raiders. His addition will have a ripple effect for the offense by leaving fewer double teams for tight end Darren Waller and fellow receiver Hunter Renfrow.
Ironically, Renfrow (128) and Waller (93) led the team in targets this past season, but Adams is expected to leapfrog both players in the pecking order. Recently departed free agent Zay Jones leaves behind 70 targets, and Henry Ruggs and DeSean Jackson leave behind 36 and 19 targets.
There should be plenty of work available for Adams, who has surpassed 1,300 receiving yards in three of the past four seasons. The only year Adams was unable to reach that mark was in 2019, when he appeared in just 12 games. This is one of the premier talents in the league, and he should be able to demand enough targets to justify his 9.2 average draft position (ADP).
Unfortunately for Adams, going from Aaron Rodgers to Carr is definitely a downgrade. Rodgers is in the elite tier of quarterbacks and was the best-performing player at the position last year. He ranked fifth in expected points added (EPA) while Carr landed eighth on the list. That's not to say Carr isn't a good player, because he is most certainly a quarterback capable of getting the job done, but there is a considerable drop-off going from the MVP to an above average player.
The Packers appear to be in the market in search of a veteran wide receiver. It shouldn't come as a shock, considering Adams' move frees up $20.14m in cap space (per OverTheCap), allowing them the flexibility to add multiple receivers currently in the free agent market. Some of the names that make sense could include Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., and even re-signing Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Green Bay also has the ammunition needed to swing a trade, if they so choose. Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks would be an interesting and productive option, though it remains to be seen whether the Packers prefer to sign a player or move compensation for one.
As it stands, this is the current receiver depth chart for the Packers:
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (free agent)
There is close to a 0% chance they enter the season with these names at the position. The good news is they now have ample cap space to make a move; they also possess the No. 22 and 28 picks in the first round and No. 53 and 59 picks in the second round of the draft. The rookie wide receiver class is a deep one, with many variations in size, skillsets, and abilities.
Rodgers chose to come back knowing the situation surrounding Adams. With that being the case, the Packers must have a plan to move forward without their main source of offense.
Ideally, General Manager Brian Gutekunst will swing for the fences to finally surround Rodgers with the needed help to go win another Super Bowl. They could justify adding three expensive receivers to the fold by utilizing all three avenues to roster improvement: sign a veteran, trade for a receiver, and draft another in the first round. Some of the options that make sense:
Trade for Brandin Cooks
This move would instantly give the Packers a vertical threat that would pair well with Rodgers' skillset. It may cost them a second-round draft selection, perhaps the one they just acquired, but Cooks is a known commodity and would cost just $8.7m against the salary cap. The veteran has topped 1,000 yards six times in his career and has played for four different franchises. He's as safe as they come.
Sign JuJu Smith-Schuster
There are a handful of acceptable options from the free agent pool. JuJu is one of the names that makes sense given his current age and role. The Packers could look to the free agent market for a vertical type of receiver like the aforementioned Julio or Will Fuller, or they could find an effective slot receiver capable of consistently moving the chains. That's where a name like JuJu, Landry, or Cole Beasley come into play. It makes sense to find a player Rodgers can trust on crucial downs and in situations where the chains must be moved. Smith-Schuster offers that ability, in addition to some extra toughness across the middle of the field. He is just 26 years old, too, and likely has some untapped potential left in his development.
Draft Chris Olave
The last avenue to improving the receiver room is to look to the draft. With two first-round picks, the Packers are well equipped to do damage and to find impact starters on day one. Olave is one of the best at the position — he is a smooth route runner who is advanced in the way he uses route stems, footwork, leverage, and positioning to set up defensive backs, while also having the speed and hands to threaten defenses vertically. He would pair nicely with Cooks and JuJu and does offer plenty of positional flexibility.