In a season full of Packers drama it looks like we can add another situation to their list as the Packers and star receiver Davante Adams are apparently far apart on a new deal according to Ian Rapoport.
The #Packers and Davante Adams’ reps worked behind the scenes to get a deal done. The proposals have not acknowledged Adams as the highest paid WR, sources say. Green Bay’s classic structure has led to limited options. Now, talks are off with just a few days to go before camp. https://t.co/8m0WM7TTBX— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 23, 2021
This was always going to be a difficult contract for the Packers in large part due to the wild discrepancies in the WR market which has one player earning, on paper, $27.5 million a season while the second highest paid player is at $22 million and just two other player earn at least $20 million a year. It is not even a question that Adams is the best receiver in the NFL but it may very difficult to justify that he should be the highest paid.
Right now the standard contract in the market is Keenan Allen at $20.025 million per season with $32 million fully guaranteed. There are some that would argue that the real value of this year is $19 million a season (that is the three year value) but I think every team in the NFL acknowledges it as a legit contract extension. Things get murky from there.
Back in 2019 the Falcons signed Julio Jones to a contract extension worth $22 million a season. Jones at the time was upset that he essentially “lost” in a contract negotiation in 2015 and he wanted to have his salary increased. There were three seasons left on his contract and Atlanta gave in, adding three more years to that contract that would work out to $22 million a year in new money and $64 million in guaranteed salary. That deal was painted as an outlier from the minute it was signed. I think if we go back most would say the Falcons just saw it as an eight year investment and moved the needle accordingly.
Things got murkier last season when the Cardinals acquired DeAndre Hopkins for a can of beans from the Houston Texans. Hopkins, who similarly “lost” in a contract extension, was unhappy with his deal that had three years remaining. Houston wanted no part of it so they traded him rather than get caught up in the drama. The Cardinals had no sunk cost in Hopkins and agreed to add two new years to the contract at a ridiculous number of $27.5 million a year. Clearly they did not look at this as an extension even if technically it is valued this way. To them it was a five year contract worth about $18.9 million a season, which was in line with everyone else’s investment in the position. $42.8 million was the full guarantee here.
One of the big problems for the Packers, in my opinion, is that they already once took a deal like Hopkins’ and justified the contract. Laremy Tunsil of the Texans signed a gigantic $22 million a year contract extension that blew the market away. Tunsil was also a player who was traded for and the actual number on it was closer to $19 million a number that that seemed to be acknowledged when Ronnie Stanley of the Ravens signed an extension worth under $20 million a season.
The Packers, however, were responsible for justifying the market when they later signed David Bakhtiari to a $23 million a year extension. Even though the Hopkins contract is even more of an outlier than the Tunsil deal it is hard to justify to a player “we can’t make you the highest paid because the contract is not a real contract” when they already agreed set the precedent to throw any type of favorable team valuation out the window. I think the Bakhtiari deal also throws another wrinkle into the equation.
When Adams signed an extension back in 2017 he signed one year after Bakhtiari signed an extension to stay in Green Bay. Adams was paid $2.5 million more per year. While you can argue who improved more (both are considered better now than they were then) the Packers also kind of tipped their hand as to what the value is of one position to another. At a minimum that should put Adams as $25.5 to $26 million per season. Anything less than that really does not make much sense within the Packers own framework.
As for questions on structure the Packers do not do guarantees outside the signing bonus. The last time around Adams received $2M more than Bakhtiari, which would put this number at $32 million. Bakhtiari’s guarantee was $10 million under the Tunsil contract and an equivalent figure would be about $33 million taking into account Hopkins full guarantee. That should not be an issue for the Packers and Adams so I do not think this would be a structure issue alluded to by Rapoport unless Green Bay is really short changing him.
The first year cash could be an issue. Bakhtiari received a $25.5 million raise which would put Adams salary at $38 million just to match and again the argument would be that he is worth more. That could be a tough number for Green Bay who is salary cap starved right now. They need cap relief and that would not give them any which could also be a complication. Along with their unwillingness to guarantee future salary it might put the guarantee too low to fit in the structure the Packers want.
Overall it is a complex situation and one the Packers helped create last season. Now they have to find a way out to avoid a whole season of drama surrounding their two star players.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.