Why the Davante Adams extension is such a tricky situation for Packers

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The Green Bay Packers and All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams are no longer engaging in long-term contract extension discussions, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Without a change from the two sides, Adams will go into training camp and the regular season playing on the final year of his current contract.

Re-signing the No. 1 receiver in football, especially after his fantastic 2020 season, should be a no-brainer, right? Well, maybe not. There are a lot of factors at play here.

Here are a few reasons why the extension is such a tricky one for the Packers:

DeAndre Hopkins: The Cardinals receiver signed a two-year, $54.5 million extension upon arriving in Arizona, completely resetting the receiver market. His average per year is over $5 million higher than the next player at the position (Julio Jones, $22 million). Adams probably wants to match, beat or come close to Hopkins’ $27.25 million per year number, especially after the numbers he put up in 2020. Hopkins’ outlier deal is likely causing all sorts of problems in negotiations.

– Cap situation: The Packers have already handed out lucrative new deals to defensive lineman Kenny Clark and left tackle David Bakhtiari in recent years. Aaron Rodgers’ contract looms over everything. Cornerback Jaire Alexander’s payday is fastly approaching. At the moment, the Packers are strapped for cap space in 2021 and 2022. In fact, the situation looks worse next year than this year. Doing a top-of-the-market extension with Adams might not fit into an already complicated cap puzzle. A team can only pay so many players.

– Age, injury: Adams turns 29 in December, and he’s missed at least one game during each season since 2017, including six over the last two seasons. Adams should be a top player for a few more years, but players generally don’t get better or more available as they hit 30. A new deal with Adams would likely tie him to Green Bay through at least his age 33 season. Is he going to be an All-Pro caliber player in four years? There’s a legitimate cost-benefit analysis to be had here.

– Aaron Rodgers: No one knows the quarterback’s future. There’s a good chance he’ll be the Packers quarterback for one more year, but there’s also a good chance he’ll be gone by 2022. Adams and Rodgers are very close, and every great receiver wants to play with a great quarterback. Adams might want a choice between a new deal making him the highest-paid receiver in football regardless of the quarterback, or a chance to pick his own path after 2021.

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– Contract structuring: Adams probably doesn’t want to be treated like all other players signing new deals in Green Bay. The team has almost always structured deals with the only guaranteed money involved put into a signing bonus. It’s certainly possible Adams wants a special structuring more to his benefit long term, especially after watching the team go through so many salary cap gymnastics this offseason.

– Franchise tag: It’s a real option for the Packers, although probably not a very good one considering the financial situation. The team could, after Adams playing out the rest of his deal in 2021, apply the tag and push the process out one more year. It would provide time, and it could be less risky than a long-term deal. The guess here is that the player wouldn’t be too pleased with this option.

– Aaron Rodgers Part II: The team is already stuck in a very public conflict with their future Hall of Fame quarterback. Adding drama with the All-Pro receiver only adds to the public relations nightmare in Green Bay. This has been a messy summer for the Packers, and now there is additional uncertainty about the future of one of the team’s best players. There is added pressure on the Packers here.

– There’s time: Adams is still under contract for one more season, and he’s unlikely to hold out given the financial repercussions of willingly sitting out. The two sides have time to get something done. The negotiation process is already ugly, with public details spilling out, but time often allows for a more measured approach from both sides. The Packers have a lot of things to get squared away first. And Adams would be crazy not to let some of the factors play out before committing to a new deal, especially if it’s not a market-resetting figure.

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