Green Bay Packers

Davante Adams Doesn't Regret the Trade, The Packers Probably Don't Either

Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Before the young, efficient-run team that is the current Green Bay Packers, you may remember a brief period in their history full of chaos. That concluded a year ago when Brian Gutekunst traded Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets. The Rodgers trade ended an illustrious Hall of Fame career in the green and gold and a controversial saga. It began with the Packers selecting Jordan Love in the 2020 NFL Draft and intensified with Rodgers’ positive COVID test ahead of Week 9 in 2021.

You see, Rodgers was merely immunized and thus had to miss that fateful game in Kansas City. Love made his debut start in Rodgers’ place. It was far from a must-win game for the Packers. Sitting at 7-1 heading into a road matchup with Patrick Mahomes would have been plenty challenging at full strength. Arguably, it was as expendable a game as a team could have. However, it kicked off a series of events that defined the Packers and the league. I’m not just talking about the rabbit hole of polarization, politicization, and disarray that ensued when Rodgers opened the dam and began monologuing weekly on The Pat McAfee Show. I’m talking about Davante Adams‘ departure.

Adams was considered the league’s top receiver at the time. In 2021, he followed up seven strong seasons in Green Bay with his grandest act yet: 123 receptions for 1,553 yards and 11 scores. However, he reeled in only six grabs for 42 yards in Kansas City despite Love targeting him 14 times. Adams’ frustration on the field was evident. The Packers only scored seven points and lost 13-7. In the following offseason. Adams decided he was done and requested a trade to Vegas to play with his college teammate Derek Carr.

I got aspirations of doing really, really big things and being remembered, and it just wasn’t a point in my career that I was willing to sacrifice Aaron not being there after a year or two.

Those were Adams’ words in his opening press conference with the Las Vegas Raiders. He claimed it wasn’t a shot at Love and insisted he just wanted his grandma to be able to see him there. But it wasn’t hard to put together. From Gutekunst’s perspective, the sky wasn’t falling. He netted a first- and second-round pick and some much-needed salary cap relief after going all-in in 2021 and 2022. The 2022 season left them with only $1.6 million in space, and it took restructuring every eligible veteran’s contract to even get to that number.

The rebuild that Gutekunst has executed has functioned more like a reload in terms of time, but it took hitting on a 2020 first-round quarterback and a pair of immaculate draft classes in the past two years to get there. Gutekunst selected Quay Walker and Christian Watson with the picks he acquired in the Adams trade. Walker is a powerful, downhill linebacker primed to make a third-year leap next to rookie Edgerrin Cooper. On multiple occasions, Watson has flashed his sky-high ceiling, but he must stay healthy and establish a more consistent role heading into Year 3.

However, the benefits of parting with Adams go beyond the players Green Bay brought in using picks from the trade. Primarily through the middle and late rounds of the draft, Gutekunst has constructed a pass-catching corps that seemed to have a new alpha in each game of their late-season run. Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, and Luke Musgrave are atop the depth chart, while Dontayvion Wicks, Tucker Kraft, and Bo Melton have all been strong contributors. Wicks appears to have a much higher ceiling than any fifth-round rookie should. Between them, a lower cap hit than Allen Lazard, who was a healthy scratch in some of the New York Jets’ must-win December games.

Furthermore, sitting tight and mining late-round gems has resulted in some cap relief. It couldn’t be coming at a better time after seeing the young Packers push the San Francisco 49ers to the brink on the road. They have used it to fill their biggest hole, inking safety Xavier McKinney to a four-year mega-deal. Green Bay also landed Josh Jacobs, who will take over for Aaron Jones, a fan-favorite for years but a 30-year-old running back nonetheless. This team is ready to make a run. Every big move since, including the Adams trade, deserves some credit.

As for Adams, he’s pretty much rotting in Vegas after Carr played himself out of there less than a season after Adams arrived. He spent 2023 catching passes from the likes of Brian Hoyer and Aidan O’Connell while Love was establishing himself as the next franchise quarterback in Green Bay. Now Gardner Minshew will take over in Sin City, which isn’t the worst move the Raiders could’ve made. Still, it’s hard to take too seriously with Mahomes in the division and the sheer number of contenders in the AFC.

Adams may be in Vegas, but he’s a fan of Love.

In hindsight…the kid is a f—ing baller, man…I don’t regret what I did, but, at the same time, it’s definitely you look back on it like, ‘“amn, that boy kind of balling right now.”

To his credit, Adams finally acknowledged the way things have played out. He’s one of the more well-liked and respected players around the league, so he would never outright state that he left because he was bearish on Love. Still, it wasn’t hard to read between the lines. Any Packers fan is going to wish we got to see this duo in full swing. However, I’d be willing to bet Brian Gutekunst and the front office are plenty happy with how things have transpired.

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