Davante Adams’ blockbuster brings more power to loaded AFC West and huge questions to Green Bay

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Another day, another absolutely successful swap completed by an AFC West team. Thursday was the Raiders landing Davante Adams. Friday? Who knows.

We are only two days away from the start of the 2022 NFL league year. This arms race has only just begun. This division is not kidding. There’s a lot to digest here, including the dismantling of one of the most robust quarterback/receiver combos in NFL history, a Packers franchise that seems perpetually caught in the middle due to their past transgressions. with Aaron Rodgers, and what might be one of the league’s most prolific passing games freezes over in Las Vegas, where new head coach Josh McDaniels has an abundance of weapons worth having presented.

In the space of about a week, the AFC welcomed a plethora of players modifying the franchise via trade. An up-and-coming first-round Hall of Fame quarterback (Russell Wilson), Hall of Fame pass rusher (Khalil Mack) and now the highest-paid receiver in NFL history, in Adams. That’s to say nothing of the Chargers retaining Mike Williams and extending him, and also adding the best corner available in free agency (JC Jackson), and the Raiders signing Chandler Jones, who has led the league in sacks since joining the NFL, and the Broncos grabbing pass rusher Randy Gregory. Well, the Chiefs haven’t been very active, but they have kept Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown on the franchise tag, which was imperative.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Here are some of my first thoughts:

  • If the Packers just hadn’t chosen to fight the clandestine trade to land QB Jordan Love two years ago, they’ve probably at least reached a Super Bowl, they’re avoiding the showdown with Rodgers, they’re probably keeping it cheaper and they can have decent insurance at the WR position rather than now being locked into probably having to use multiple picks on pass-catchers. Luckily for them, it’s a strong receiver draft.
  • The Raiders may have the best group of talented players in the NFL. Derek Carr is still the fourth-best QB in this division, but there’s no shame in that and he has the ability to spray the ball everywhere now. It’s impossible for teams not to think they need to double Adams and monster tight end Darren Waller. Hunter Renfrow is a slot savvy guy who should find all kinds of coins. Bryan Edwards made progress last year and is a solid target. Running back Josh Jacobs can also help you win in the passing game. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders add another veteran offensive lineman as well. They would need help there. If you can find some early money on McDaniels as Coach of the Year, I might put in a few bucks.
  • After all the problems the Raiders have had getting top draft picks on receivers (as well as Antonio Brown’s miserable experience), and given that Mark Davis is the son of Al Davis, you better believe that the Raiders brass were considering trading a first round. and a second round as a bargain for Adams. They need a reliable deep threat and they now have the best wide in the game. The fact that he played college ball with Carr only makes it better.
  • You’ll hear a lot about the Packers drive and willingness to give Adams everything he wanted. Don’t buy it. Rodgers threatening to retire every nine months makes it hard to hitch your wagon to this team if you’re Adams and it’s your last big bite at the apple. The Packers weren’t going to pay around $80 million a year to two players. If not for all the angst and fights with Rodgers the past few years, maybe they get an extension with Adams before the cap goes up again. But the timing was suboptimal for Green Bay.
  • Um, I guess Adams is one of many who have reservations about Love ever being close to what the Packers must have thought he was when they put Rodgers on the clock by taking him in the first round. And Adams should thank Christian Kirk for holding on until the Jaguars put so much money in front of the free agent catcher he couldn’t say no.
  • If I’m Stefon Diggs, who’s in line for a meaty overtime with the Bills, I’m cartwheeling on it. Adams is resetting the receiver market at the right time for him.
  • The Packers would do well to keep Marquez Valdes-Scantling and I would be very surprised if Cole Beasley or Jarvis Landry or JuJu Smith-Schuster or Jamison Crowder doesn’t fill the Packers spot next season.
  • Expect Rodgers to have significant input with the team’s brass on receivers the Packers choose to draft. He brought Randall Cobb back into the building, he has the ear of Guty And The Gang and he won’t hesitate to speak his mind trying to fill that massive void at the receiver.
  • Green Bay’s chances of making that extended window with Rodgers pay off in the only meaningful way possible — a Lombardi Trophy — were already getting worse year on year with this roster not as strong on paper as, say, 2020. This decision makes the margins of this work even smaller. But what this trade does is start to give them a glimpse of the kind of capital it will take to get out of it when this chapter with Rodgers ends.

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