In by far the most shocking move in this free agency period, the Packers have traded Davante Adams to the Raiders in exchange for Vegas’ 22nd and 53rd overall picks in this year’s NFL Draft.
Things obviously progressed (or fell apart, depending on which way you look at) quickly because Adams refused to play under the franchise tag only a few days ago. Here’s the thing, though. The Packers were willing to pay Adams what the Raiders ultimately gave him and Aaron Rodgers knew this could happen…
Per a source, the Packers we’re willing to pay Adams equally to what the Raiders are with this new deal but Adams preferred to play elsewhere.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) March 17, 2022
Aaron Rodgers was aware of the developments with Adams as they unfolded in recent days.
… and Adams’ contract is the richest for a wide receiver in NFL history:
Davante Adams get a new contract worth $141.25M over 5 years, source say. He gets an average of $28.25 average. https://t.co/YTAxHov0Rj— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2022
Essentially, Adams had the choice of staying in Green Bay and decided to go to Vegas and play with his friend and former college teammate, Derek Carr. Rodgers knew this could happen, and still signed his massive $150M, three-year extension a few days ago.
Adams and Carr played two seasons together at Fresno State in 2012-13 and absolutely dominated the college ranks. In those two years, Adams led the NCAA in receptions, yards, and touchdowns while Carr was first in passing yards and TDs himself.
While I don’t think it’ll take long for Carr and Adams to rekindle their connection in Vegas now 10 years removed from college, the big question for our game is whether or not Adams gets the same level of volume with the Raiders as he did with the Packers. Not only is Adams the best receiver in the NFL right now, he’s also consistently been the most targeted.
Davante Adams’ ridiculous volume / production since 2018
|Year||Fantasy points per game||Targets per game||Target share|
|2018||21.8 FPG (WR1)||11.3 (1st)||31% (1st)|
|2019||17.7 (WR4)||10.6 (2nd)||32% (1st)|
|2020||25.7 (WR1)||10.6 (1st)||33% (1st)|
|2021||21.7 (WR2)||10.6 (2nd)||31% (2nd)|
Derek Carr obviously isn’t as physically gifted as Rodgers, but he’s been quietly consistent and efficient with 4,000 or more yards in four straight seasons. In that span (since 2018), Carr ranks 14th in yards per attempt (7.6) but hasn’t finished better than QB16 in fantasy points per game largely because he doesn’t run and hasn’t been an elite touchdown scorer. Adams should surely help in the TD department.
As for volume, the Raiders were 8th in pass rate (63.6%) last year and new HC Josh McDaniels won’t be afraid to throw it. Carr might be the most underrated quarterback in the league at the line of scrimmage in terms of the checks and audibles he makes once he sees the defense, so there should be immediate trust between he and McDaniels. I think Vegas has room to go even more pass-heavy in 2022, especially considering how bad their run blocking was last year. Their lack of a run game incentivises the pass.
Carr now has the best weapons out of any QB in the loaded AFC West, by far. Adams’ presence obviously changes the way defenses will have to cover Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller alike, but for fantasy, this move certainly hurts Renfrow the most out of the group. Renfrow is coming off a career year (103/1038/9) where he tied Adam Thielen as the WR15 in fantasy points per game (15.4), but there are some concerns looking underneath the hood.
Renfrow largely did his best work when Darren Waller missed time with multiple injuries, averaging 17.7 fantasy points per game in the seven contests in which Waller played fewer than 30% of the snaps. In the 11 games that Waller was healthy, Renfrow dipped to 13.7 FPG. With Waller back healthy and Adams around, Renfrow will be hard-pressed to get back up near 14-15 FPG.
The biggest winner of all here is Carr, but after diving into this piece, this is not that big of a downgrade for Adams. I had him neck and neck with Cooper Kupp in my best-ball rankings before he was traded, and I can’t easily take Adams out of my top-5. I’ll take Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyreek Hill over Adams now, but have a hard time ranking guys like Deebo Samuel, Stefon Diggs, AJ Brown, and CeeDee Lamb over him.
Adams still has WR1 in his range of outcomes (just to a lesser degree) with his immediate rapport with Carr and the Raiders likely leaning more on the pass as the two main positive points.
Where do the Packers go from here?
Since Aaron Rodgers apparently knew that Adams wanted out, he had to be ok with GM Brian Gutekunst trading their offensive playmaker in the middle of free agency. Unfortunately for the Packers, they just missed out on signing Allen Robinson by a matter of hours and the free agent pool of receivers is already pretty thin. There was mutual interest between Odell Beckham and the Packers back in November, which could be a path Gutekunst explores.
Regardless, the Packers have to attack receivers in the NFL Draft with their added ammo from the Raiders. Because this roster is far from finished, I’ll refrain from speculating too much, but we at least have a good sample of games that suggests Rodgers and the Packers offense might not take a massive stepback without Adams.
Since 2018, Rodgers and this Packers offense has been downright impressive when Adams has missed time. I’m usually not a fan of extrapolating small samples of data into end-all, be-all conclusions – but there is enough here to trust.
In fact, Rodgers and the Packers numbers have been better without Adams…
Packers / Rodgers stats with and without Adams since 2018
|Stat split||With Adams (57 games)||Without Adams (8 games)|
|GB Points per game||26.1||27.6|
|GB Points scored per drive||2.5||2.7|
|Yards per attempt||7.4||8.1|
|Pass yards per game||267.7||275.9|
The bottom line is that while Adams will be impossible to replace, Rodgers is just that damn good. He’ll continue to elevate this offense no matter who his weapons are.