Everyone watching Sunday Night Football last weekend heard Chris Collinsworth make the analogy that Davante Adams was the true number 1 wideout for the Green Bay Packers, implying that he was more valuable to this team than others on the roster, Jordy Nelson included. Personally, I had to laugh at what Collinsworth said, not because I thought it was incorrect, but because it seemed somewhat obvious at this point. With 298 yards and 2 touchdowns in the past 3 games, Adams is clearly the favorite target of replacement Quarterback Brett Hundley. The real burning question here is not who is WR1 when Hundley is quarterbacking, it’s who is the number 1 guy when Rodgers is under center.
After the injury, I thought along with plenty of others that Adams stats would suffer making him a more affordable impending free agent this offseason. Adams has actually seen an increase in his yards per game since the injury to Rodgers and his touchdown numbers have remained similar. Adams continued production tells us a lot about how skilled he is. You really cannot say Adams only puts up numbers because of the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers. Jordy Nelson’s drop off in production tells us just how important his intense chemistry with Rodgers is to his success as a wideout. There is no question that Nelson is in by far his best situation with Rodgers in Green Bay, and I think he knows that which will likely result in him playing his entire career for the Packers.
Much to the surprise of anyone who watched Davante play in 2015, the torch is being passed to him as number one wideout for the Green Bay Packers. With both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb having what is essentially team options on the final years of their contracts, the future of the position is not clear. One thing that is clear to me is that the team must resign Adams and build the rest of the position around him…
There are many different looks the wide receiving corps could take going forward. Adams next contract will not be cheap. This is all speculation, but I would guess that it is in the ballpark of 4 or 5 years and 11-15 million dollars. A lot of that depends on if the Packers are able to extend him before he hits free agency, if he hits the open market his value will only go up. I have a hard time believing that the front office will keep 3 wideouts that are making 10+ million dollars per season, but it is possible given how well the salary cap has been managed elsewhere. Both Nelson and Cobb could easily be restructured or even cut, the more likely candidate to be cut being Cobb in my eyes. With the young guys not having shown much to inspire confidence in team as the third wideout on the roster, the Packer may look to the draft or free agency to find talent.
This years WR draft class is not overly stout in the opinions of many, including myself. There is a lot of length, no shortage of receivers that are 6’4″ and taller. While length in a wideout is great, this particular draft class doesn’t feature much speed, which is what the Packers really need, especially if they want to build around Adams. Adams is at his best when he is working over the middle of the field. He thrives on being one of the most difficult receivers in the league to jam at the line, in addition he runs an outstanding slant route. When catching the ball with enough space from the sideline, Adams often shows a beautiful display of putting defenders “in a blender” gaining a lot of yards after the catch in the process.
What kind of wideout would aide Adams the most? A speedy deep threat that could take the top off the defense of course. The Packers have been missing this element to their offense for years. Apart from Trevor Davis who hasn’t been overly effective, most of the Packers wideouts lack deep speed. You saw how the offense really took off when Jared Cook started to play a bigger role, his presence deep was a big part of that.
When defenses constantly need to account for a guy deep, it opens up those intermediate and underneath throws which Adams feasts on. In order to acquire this piece of the offense, the team would likely have to look to Free Agency. Some more affordable impending free agent names that come to mind are guys like Sammy Watkins, Taylor Gabriel, Terrell Pryor, and Mike Wallace. Free agents like those four are examples of guys who will be affordable while offering some much-needed speed deep. Josh Gordon is another exciting name fans are throwing around. As always, free agents aren’t always all that prevalent in Green Bay, so who knows if the front office would even consider a free agent wideout.
Davante Adams has come a long way from the struggling player we saw in 2015. The end of his rookie season inspired a lot of high hopes for the future, and he is living up to them this season. His is a truly remarkable story. He fixed his problem with dropping catches that plagued him even last season. In addition to fixing issues, he went out and found ways to excel in the offense. Things like chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, outstanding ability to create yardage after the catch, and ability to beat press coverage are what have made him the success he is today.