Davante Adams is pretty much unanimously the cream of the 2022 NFL Free Agency crop. The 29-year-old Green Bay Packers wide receiver is coming off a career year, with 123 […]
Davante Adams is pretty much unanimously the cream of the 2022 NFL Free Agency crop. The 29-year-old Green Bay Packers wide receiver is coming off a career year, with 123 catches, 1,553 yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns, earning All-Pro First-Team honors for the second straight season, and being named a Pro Bowler for the fifth consecutive season. Adams has recorded at least 100 catches, 1,300 yards, and 11 TD in three of the last four seasons, missing those marks only in a 12-game campaign during the 2019-20 season.
Adams is a clear-cut number-one NFL wide receiver, garnering significant defensive attention but still burning his defenders for major yards. Adams has been the go-to target of quarterback Aaron Rodgers for seasons now, a marriage that has produced loads of offensive success. Rodgers has won the NFL MVP Award in each of the last two seasons, with Adams’ presence on the roster boosting the quarterback’s play and results.
The Packers have yet to make the Super Bowl during Adams’ tenure in Green Bay, but that’s not the wide receiver’s fault. In ten career playoff games, Adams has caught eight touchdown passes, and averages 82.7 yards per game.
Now entering free agency in the midst of his prime, Adams should draw attention from many teams looking to upgrade their offensive arsenal. With Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins receiving $27.3 million in average annual value, a new deal for Adams should be worth something similar.
Green Bay will likely try to keep Adams on the roster to maximize what the time they have left with Rodgers. While Green Bay is already working against the salary cap, the Packers could make a new Adams contract work by pulling some strings. Though the team fell short in the Divisional Round to the San Francisco 49ers in the postseason, the Packers are still very much a Super Bowl contender heading in to next season.
Otherwise, another team could be eager to scoop up Adams’ services. Adams would also reportedly like to continue contending for Super Bowls, seemingly eliminating some of the teams with the most cap space, like the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets. But other times that were in or near the playoffs last season could instantly get even better with Adams as their #1 wide receiver.
6. Denver Broncos
Adams to the Denver Broncos chatter peaked in late January, with the Broncos hiring of former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett spurning rumors Rodgers and/or Adams could join Hackett in Denver. It’s become clear now that Rodgers probably isn’t skipping town, but the Broncos could still try to make a play for Adams. Denver went 7-10 last season with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock assuming quarterback duties, and had a chance at the postseason down the stretch.
Putting Adams next to Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton would increase the prospects of all three pass-catchers, and Denver certainly has the cap room to pursue Adams. But with an uncertain quarterback situation at best, Denver would be a hard sell unless the Broncos contract offer goes above and beyond his asking price.
5. Miami Dolphins
It’s hard to peg exactly where the Miami Dolphins will be next season. In 2021, Miami started 1-7, but then rattled off an eight-game win streak to challenge for a playoff position, ultimately falling short at 9-8. The Dolphins may carry that momentum forward to 2022, but will do so without head coach Brian Flores, who was relieved of his duties at the end of the season.
Tua Tagovailoa may not have the biggest arm in the league, and he’ll probably never be a Top 10 quarterback, but the former Heisman Trophy finalist made strides in his second season in the NFL. Miami already has a pretty solid one-two punch at wide receiver with DaVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle. But just like with Denver’s wide receiver room, adding Adams would increase offensive opportunities around the board. The Dolphins could surround Tagovailoa with weapons, leaving defenses scrambling to decide who to put the most coverage on. Double cover Adams on the outside? Parker or Waddle could beat their man one-on-one to get open. Miami’s offense would definitely be fun and efficent with Adams presence in the passing game.
The Dolphins also have more cap room than any team in the NFL at over $61 million, giving Miami the potential to outbid other teams if they truly value Adams’ services. From the wide receiver’s perspective, Adams has to weigh the possibility of being on a middle-of-the-road team with an average quarterback. Tagovailoa is certainly a step down from Rodgers, but Miami’s warm weather and loads of cap room could still sway Adams towards joining the Dolphins.
4. New England Patriots
Going after the top free agent on the offensive side of the ball doesn’t exactly feel like a New England Patriots move. Then again, while Bill Belichick remains, this is a new era of Patriots football with Mac Jones at quarterback. Jones enjoyed a successful rookie season, with New England finishing 10-7, qualifying for a wildcard position and finishing just one game behind the AFC East champion Buffalo Bills.
But then the Bills downed the Patriots in the Wildcard Round by virtue of a perfect offensive game. Conventional wisdom might say New England should upgrade on defense, but ultimately, it’s an offensive league and a passing league.
New England employed a solid of group of wideouts last season including Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne. Adding Davante Adams to the mix would give the Patriots a true top receiving threat, and allow the existing pass-catchers more opportunities to get open.
The Patriots don’t currently have the cap space, with just $7.3 million available, 21st in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t land Adams with some savvy maneuvering. Again, at the end of the day, this might be the best move for the Patriots to make, but if New England wants to go all-in and give Jones the tools to compete for an AFC East title, Adams’ services would certainly be helpful.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers finished the 2021-22 season with the fifth-best offense (27.9 PPG scored) but 30th-ranked defense (27.0 PPG allowed) in the NFL. While the Chargers defense is clearly in more need of help, that doesn’t leave Los Angeles out of the Davante Adams sweepstakes one bit.
First and foremost, Los Angeles has tons of cap room available to help them improve on their 9-8 finish from last season. The Chargers have over $57.5 million in cap space, second only to the Miami Dolphins.
Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert finished last season with 5,014 yards and 38 passing touchdowns, with the Chargers averaging the second-most passing yards in the league at 282.4 yards per game. Why not turn a current strength in to an absolutely overpowering advantage?
There is one catch: Los Angeles’ leading receiver from 2021, Mike Williams (76 catches, 1,146 yards, nine touchdowns) is also a free agent. Signing both Williams and Adams in free agency may be unlikely, redundant, or both. While the Chargers can afford to spend big on luxuries that won’t shore up their defense, throwing all their cap room at two receivers may be short-sighted. Signing Adams may be viewed as an alternate option to retaining Williams, but also as an upgrade. The only way I could see both receivers at Hebert’s disposal in 2022 (a scary proposition) is if the Chargers tag Williams and sign Adams.
Los Angeles was very nearly a playoff team last season, and signing Adams could help put the Chargers already strong passing game over the top.
2. Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders endured a tumultuous season of off-field issues to secure a playoff spot with a win-or-go-home game against the Chargers in Week 17. While the Raiders fell to the eventual AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in the wildcard round, Las Vegas enjoyed a strong step forward last season.
Carr led the sixth-best passing offense in the league, and did so without 2020 first round pick Henry Ruggs III for most of the season. Hunter Renfrow tallied over 1,000 receiving yards next to Zay Jones, Bryan Edwards, and tight end Darren Waller. The receiving group is already solid, but without sounding like a broken record, gets much better with Adams in the fold. Renfrow as a number two option just opens up so much, with the best defenders giving Adams more attention.
The Raiders could be a different team with a true number one receiver for Carr to throw to, and Las Vegas could easily be a playoff team again next season with a dynamic offense.
Las Vegas has $20.6 million in cap space available, right in the middle of the pack at 15th in the NFL.
1. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers should do everything in their power to retain Adams’ services, and until further notice are the most likely team for the wide receiver to call home in 2022-23. Again, Adams will cost a pretty penny, and the Packers may need to restructure or otherwise release themselves from other salary cap commitments in order to pay the back-to-back All-Pro what he’s worth. But at the end of the day, if the Packers are running it back with Rodgers under center next season, Adams is a necessary piece to try and compete for Super Bowl 57.
Using Hopkins AAV of $27.3 million, Adams could probably command a three-year, $84 million contract from the Packers with an AAV of $28 million. Adams may be able to get another team to shell out an additional year or another couple million dollars. But as long as the Packers aren’t asking for a real hometown discount, leaving just a little bit on the table would be worth it to play with Rodgers and compete for a Super Bowl.
Prediction: Adams stays with the Green Bay Packers on a three-year, $84 million contract
If Adams leaves Green Bay: Signs with Las Vegas Raiders on four-year, $100 million contract
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