How Packers trading star WR Adams to Raiders impacts 49ers

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The exhilarating NFL offseason took another twist Thursday night when the Green Bay Packers traded wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for a 2022 first- and second-round pick.

Adams, who made it clear he wouldn’t play for Green Bay on a franchise tag in 2022, reportedly agreed to a new five-year contract with the Raiders worth $141.25 million.

The trade greatly impacted the 2022 outlook for both teams. The Packers, who just signed quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a pricy contract extension, are now without a clear No. 1 receiving option in the passing game. Las Vegas, looking for its first playoff win since 2002, suddenly has a spine-chilling air attack with Adams, tight end Darren Waller, slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and quarterback Derek Carr.

While the move didn’t directly involve the 49ers, it made a big enough splash to be heard loud and clear in Santa Clara. Here’s how the Adams trade impacted the Niners:

Easier path to Super Bowl LVII

It’s simple, really. The Packers, an undisputed power in the NFC, got worse. 

Riding the chemistry of Adams and Rodgers, Green Bay won 13 games in each of the past three seasons and made two NFC Championship Game appearances in that span. The Packers will always be a threat with the back-to-back NFL MVP under center. But taking away his best option in the passing game greatly weakens an offense that was held to 10 points at home -- off a bye, nonetheless -- against the 49ers in the divisional round.

The 49ers have met (and defeated) Green Bay in each of their last two playoff runs. Without Adams, the Packers will still be expected to make the postseason but might not be considered in the same class as not-so-retired Tom Brady's stacked Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the defending champion Los Angeles Rams.

For the record, 49ers star receiver Deebo Samuel believes the path to a conference title became easier. He tweeted the following shortly after the Adams trade was reported:

Will Rodgers rumors begin to swirl again?

Rodgers and the Packers haven’t had a perfect marriage. Far from it, actually.

Green Bay has long been criticized for not surrounding Rodgers with enough weapons on offense. Since Brian Gutekunst was hired as general manager in 2018, the Packers have used their five first-round picks on four defensive players and quarterback Jordan Love, whom they drafted as Rodgers’ successor without his consultation.

Before the 2021 NFL Draft, it was leaked Rodgers wanted his time in Green Bay to end -- a report that made Kyle Shanahan call Packers coach Matt LaFleur and check in on a possible trade to bring the Northern California native to the Bay Area.

Rodgers seemingly put all offseason rumors of a trade or possible retirement to rest when he inked a record-breaking three-year contract extension worth over $150 million on Tuesday.

While that’s still likely the case, Rodgers can’t be pleased with losing his No. 1 receiver. Rodgers has thrown more touchdown passes to Adams than any other receiver over his Hall of Fame career. Both players earned All-Pro status the past two seasons.

But now, Rodgers’ best option in the passing game currently is Allen Lazard, who went undrafted in 2018 and has never logged more than 513 receiving yards in a season.

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It would make sense for Green Bay to go after one of the available veteran receivers like Cole Beasley, Julio Jones or Jarvis Landry in free agency. That will work fine, but it’s hard to see any pairing work as well together as Rodgers and Adams.

And that could be just enough to stir the pot and get the quarterback carousel rolling again, which the 49ers need as they search for a dance partner in the Jimmy Garoppolo sweepstakes.

Another AFC West opponent bulks up

The 49ers’ 2022 schedule won’t be set in stone until later this spring, but we do know San Francisco will be battling all four AFC West teams – the Raiders (away), Kansas City Chiefs (home), Los Angeles Chargers (home) and Denver Broncos (away). None of those games will be easy. 

The Chiefs, of course, feature Jackson Mahomes’ brother under center. Los Angeles has one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in Justin Herbert. Denver, which finished last in the AFC West the past two seasons, recently traded for Russell Wilson, who owns a 17-4 lifetime record against San Francisco. And now Las Vegas looks like a Super Bowl contender with Adams joining the huddle.

Sheesh.

Davante’s new deal sets the market for Deebo

Every time an NFL receiver signs a new deal, San Francisco gets a clearer picture of what it will take to eventually lock down Samuel long-term, a move general manager John Lynch has said the 49ers are budgeting for.

Adams’ new five-year agreement makes him the highest-paid receiver in the league, earning an average annual value (AAV) of $28.3 million. He’s a bit of an outlier along with DeAndre Hopkins ($27.3 million AAV), as Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, Chris Godwin and Mike Williams are next in line, hanging around the $20 million mark. 

Christian Kirk, who has never posted a 1,000-yard season, shockingly received about $18 million per year in free agency from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Samuel’s versatile wide-back role is changing the league, but it’s unrealistic to assume he’ll cost as much as Adams. If Adams’ $28.3 million is the ceiling and Kirk’s $18 million is the floor, Samuel getting somewhere around $20-23 million per year seems fair. That’d make him the second-highest-paid 49er behind Garoppolo, who isn’t expected to be with the team in 2022.

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