On Nov. 7, 2021, there was a lot of big football news out of Wisconsin: Secretly unvaccinated quarterback Aaron Rodgers was ruled out with COVID, and his heir apparent, Jordan Love, was making his first career start. However, the Green Bay Packers’ loss at Arrowhead didn’t prevent them from obtaining the top seed. The most consequential result of that afternoon was that Davante Adams got all the information he needed to make the decision that would deplete Green Bay’s receiving core and define their offseason.
Adams played eight stellar seasons with Rodgers and the Packers, catching 669 passes for over 8,000 yards and 73 touchdowns. He averaged nearly 100 yards per game but only managed 44 in his sole contest with Love under center. Crucially, his decreased production came despite Love targeting him 14 times, a significant increase from his season average of 10.5.
As the Packers’ offense sputtered, Adams’ body language reflected his frustration. Connections that had been easy throughout his career were suddenly difficult to come by. At the time, much of the future speculation was directed toward Rodgers and his impending decision. But as we were reminded when news broke that the Packers were trading Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, Rodgers wasn’t the only superstar Green Bay had to worry about retaining.
Speaking to reporters last week, Adams detailed his decision. He claimed that “because where I am in my career – and this isn’t a shot at anybody, any other quarterbacks in Green Bay, I love Jordan Love especially, he’s a great guy – I got aspirations of doing really, really big things and being remembered, and it just wasn’t really a point in my career that I was willing to sacrifice Aaron not being there after a year or two.”
While many speculated that a potential Rodgers departure might dissuade Adams from returning, Rodgers had announced his intention to re-sign before the Packers traded their star receiver. However, Adams is saying that he wasn’t necessarily concerned about whether Rodgers would be around in 2022, but in the years following. And given how often Rodgers has hinted at retirement in the near future, it’s hard to blame him for that, especially given the extent of the pair’s communication.
The other thing elucidated by Adams’ comments is that the decision largely came down to Derek Carr versus Jordan Love. Therefore, it’s hard to believe that the Kansas City game didn’t factor heavily into that conclusion. Adams was given a preview of what a Rodgers-less future in Green Bay might look like, and it was understandably frustrating for him. Factoring into his offseason search for long-term financial security was assurance that he would be able to produce at the level to which he has grown accustomed. It’s a level of play that has made him the NFL’s top receiver in the eyes of many, explaining why he turned down a larger contract from the Packers to move to Vegas.
Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Carr, Adams’ close friend from Fresno State, was his second choice to play out his third contract with. The game with Love last November and seven mostly middling games with Brett Hundley in 2017 illuminated a stark contrast in production and playing style for Adams.
Adams has mentioned other factors, such as wanting to raise his kids in Vegas and being closer to home. But as his recent comments indicate, it appears that the next stage of his career was the primary concern. Amid the Packers’ long-standing playoff struggles and Rodgers’ hints toward retirement, it is not out of the question for him to fear that the window may be closing in Green Bay. Signing up for five more years might have put his legacy as an all-time great out of his control.
As he joins an offensive arsenal that includes Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, and Josh Jacobs, Adams figures to be at the forefront of yet another high-powered offense. Adams will be flanked by a fellow star in Waller for the first time since the Packers released Jordy Nelson. Conversely, Rodgers will be making do with a receiver room currently led by Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, and rookie Christian Watson. It remains to be seen if Matt LaFleur and Co. can sustain the level of offense that has carried them to a 39-10 regular-season record in his first three seasons.
Love, who has been forced to get used to this type of chatter, reaffirmed last Friday that he “can’t control what’s going on…[and will] take what [he’s] given and run with it.” Entering the third year of his rookie contract, he will be heavily scrutinized, even in a backup role. If Rodgers calls it quits this time next year, it will be Love or the abort button for the Packers. Regardless of the outcome, losing Adams will make the long run even more difficult for whoever steps into his role. And it’s hard to imagine that Nov. 7, 2021 didn’t have a heavy hand in costing Green Bay one of their best players of all time.