The Green Bay Packers stunned the NFL when they traded All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this month, but head coach Matt LaFleur sounds like he has come to terms with the difficult decision.
LaFleur caught up with NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on March 27 at the Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, and spoke about the departure of Adams for the first time since the team traded the All-Pro receiver earlier this month, calling it a “tough decision for me personally and for the organization.”
“Sometimes you’ve got to make some tough decisions,” LaFleur told Pelissero. “Certainly appreciate everything Davante brought to our team. I mean, he is the best receiver in the National Football League, so that was a tough one for me personally and for our organization.”
At the same time, LaFleur said he understands the factors that compelled the Packers to deal Adams to the Raiders. The 29-year-old receiver had established himself as an elite receiver over the past few seasons and wanted his new contract to reflect his status in the league, but LaFleur knew the Packers were in a difficult spot with the salary cap and had a limited set of options for retaining Adams at his desired price point.
“I think there’s a great mutual respect,” LaFleur said. “Certainly, he’s a guy that’s going to be tough to replace and so you never want to let great players like that walk away from your team. But, like I said, it’s just one of those deals where some tough decisions have to be made. Unfortunately, in the National Football League, there’s a thing called the salary cap and you gotta get below that as well. So everything factored into those decisions.”
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Will Packers Invest 1st-Round Pick in WR?
The Packers haven’t taken a wide receiver in the first round since selecting Javon Walker at No. 20 overall in the 2002 NFL draft, but the circumstances could finally be right for that to change in 2022. Green Bay is severely lacking top-end talent at the position for next season and only has its best two options — Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb — under contract for one more season. Even if a veteran is acquired through free agency or a trade, the time has come for premium youngbloods to join the fold.
“We’re going to absolutely have to add some piece to that room and, you know, we’ve got to construct our offense around what we have,” LaFleur told Pelissero. “You can’t look back and you gotta move forward.”
Will the Packers invest at the receiver spot in the first round, though?
The Packers have two selections in each of the first two rounds this year — Picks 22, 28, 53, 59 — and could potentially have a quality receiver available at every pick, but whether they strike in the first round will likely depend on how the rest of the board falls. There are a few obvious candidates that could tempt them if still available after the first 21 picks, including Drake London, Jameson Williams, Chris Olave and Treylon Burks. They even have the assets to trade up if they have a favorite they don’t want to lose.
The Packers might also find value in patience. If there is an early run on the top five receivers, there is a decent chance a higher-rated player on their board at another position of need could fall to them at Pick 22. There is also no telling which receivers rank where on the Packers’ big board, making it possible that some of their favorites are the guys who will likely still be available in the second round — such as Christian Watson, Jahan Dotson, George Pickens, David Bell, Skyy Moore and John Metchie III.