We are only two days into the NFL's 2022 League Year. This arms race is still just heating up. This division is not messing around. There is a lot to digest here, including the dismantling of one of the most robust quarterback/receiver combos in NFL history, a Packers franchise that seems perpetually caught in between due to their past transgressions with Aaron Rodgers, and what could be one of the league's most prolific passing games congealing in Las Vegas, where new head coach Josh McDaniels has an abundance of weapons worth featuring.
In the span of a week or so the AFC has welcomed a plethora of franchise-altering players via trade. A first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback in the making (Russell Wilson), a Hall of Fame pass rusher (Khalil Mack), and now the highest-paid receiver in NFL history, in Adams. That's to say nothing of the Chargers retaining Mike Williams and extending him, and also adding the best corner available in free agency (J.C. Jackson), and the Raiders signing Chandler Jones, who leads the league in sacks since entering the NFL, and the Broncos grabbing pass rusher Randy Gregory. And, well, the Chiefs haven't been all that active, but they kept Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown on the franchise tag, which was imperative.
There is a lot to unpack here. These are some of my initial thoughts:
- Had the Packers simply not picked a fight with the clandestine trade-up to land QB Jordan Love two years ago, they probably at least reach one Super Bowl, they avoid the showdown with Rodgers, they probably keep him more cheaply and they may have decent insurance at the WR position rather than now being locked into having to probably use multiple picks on pass-catchers. Good thing for them it's a strong receiver draft.
- The Raiders may have the best group of skill players in the NFL. Derek Carr is still the fourth best QB in this division, but there is no shame in that and he has the ability to spray the ball all over now. It's impossible for teams not to think they have to double-team Adams and monster tight end Darren Waller. Hunter Renfrow is a savvy underneath slot guy who should find all kinds of room. Bryan Edwards made strides last year and is a nice sized target. Running back Josh Jacobs can help you win in the passing game, too. Don't be surprised if the Raiders add another veteran offensive lineman as well. They could use help there. If you can find early money on McDaniels as Coach of the Year, I might lay a few bucks.
- After all the issues the Raiders have had getting top draft picks on receivers to work out (as well as the miserable Antonio Brown experiment), and given Mark Davis being Al Davis' son, you better believe the Raiders brass viewed trading a first-rounder and a second-rounder as a bargain for Adams. They need a reliable deep threat and now they have the best wideout in the game. The fact that he played college ball with Carr is all the better.
- You will hear plenty about how eager and willing the Packers were to give Adams whatever he wanted. Not buying it. Rodgers threatening to retire every nine months makes it hard to hitch your wagon to that team if you are Adams and this is your last huge bite at the apple. The Packers weren't going to pay about $80M annually to two players. If not for all of the angst and fighting with Rodgers in recent years, maybe they get an extension done with Adams before the cap went up again. But the timing of this was suboptimal for Green Bay.
- Um, I'm guessing Adams is among the many who have some reservations about Love ever being anything close to what the Packers had to think he was when they put Rodgers on the clock by taking him in the first round. And Adams should give a shoutout to Christian Kirk for holding out until the Jaguars put so much money in front of the free agent receiver that he couldn't say no.
- If I am Stefon Diggs, who is in line for a meaty extension with the Bills, I am doing cartwheels about this. Adams resetting the receiver market at just the right time for him.
- Packers would do well to retain Marquez Valdes-Scantling and I would be very surprised if Cole Beasley or Jarvis Landry or JuJu Smith-Schuster or Jamison Crowder is not manning the slot for the Packers next season.
- Expect Rodgers to have significant input with the team's brass about whichever receivers the Packers do opt to draft. He got Randall Cobb back in the building, he has the ear of Guty And The Gang and he's not going to be shy about giving his opinions in trying to fill this massive void at receiver.
- Green Bay's odds of making this extended window with Rodgers pay off in the only meaningful way it could – a Lombardi Trophy – were already getting worse by the year with this roster not nearly as strong on paper as, say, 2020. This move makes the margins of this working out even smaller. But what this trade does do is start to give them a smidge of the kind of draft capital it is going to take to dig out of this when this chapter with Rodgers does close.