GREEN BAY — Two weeks ago, Aaron Rodgers made a not-so-thinly veiled plea to general manager Ted Thompson about getting a new contract done with his No.1 wide receiver, Davante Adams.
“Hopefully we pay him sooner rather than later,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback said on Dec. 12.
Does 17 days qualify as sooner?
Adams inked a new four-year deal with the Packers Friday — one worth $58.75 million, including an $18 million signing bonus and $32 million in the first two years, according to ESPN and NFL Network reports — that will keep him off the open free-agent market in March and on the receiving end of Rodgers’ passes going forward.
“It was a stressful, stressful time but I’m glad we were able to get it done,” Adams said in a video posted to his personal iPhone app. “A lot of work, a lot of time we put into this thing, a lot of back-and-forth, but we got it done and (I) couldn’t be more excited to be in a better place.”
Adams, who turned 25 on Christmas Eve, moved past veteran Jordy Nelson and became the Packers’ go-to receiver this season, leading the team in receptions (74), receiving yards (885) and touchdown receptions (10).
“I have no problem with it. I’m happy for Davante. He’s put a lot of work in and grown so much,” Nelson said earlier in the week when asked about Adams eclipsing him. “Again, you can’t get mad, because I was in that same situation six years ago or whatever with Greg (Jennings) and Donald (Driver). So I’m not mad at all. I’m happy for him, I’m happy with the way he’s developed, I’m happy with the way he’s grown as a football player, as a person, everything.”
On Friday morning, Packers coach Mike McCarthy ruled Adams out for Sunday’s season finale at Detroit because of the concussion he sustained Dec. 17 at Carolina, when Rodgers returned to the lineup in a last-ditch effort to get the Packers to the playoffs for the ninth straight year. Adams also sat out last week’s shutout loss to Minnesota, although he was seen on the sideline arguing about a call during the game.
With the team out of postseason contention, Adams has been kept in the concussion protocol, although a league source said earlier this week that the team had no concerns whatsoever about Adams apparently recovering more slowly from this concussion than he had from one in 2016 or the one he sustained on Sept. 28 against Chicago.
Adams worked as a quarterback in practice on Thursday, throwing passes to his fellow wideouts during drills, and he seemed like his normal self when he accepted the 2017 Tom Mulhern Stand-Up Guy award from the Green Bay chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. Nevertheless, since he is still technically in the concussion protocol, Adams was not allowed to speak with reporters, per NFL rules.
With a $14.7 million per-year average, Adams’ deal ranks him fourth among NFL receivers in annual pay and surpasses the extension Nelson signed in July 2014 (four years, $39 million) and the new deal Randall Cobb signed in March 2015 (four years, $40 million). Both Cobb and Nelson are entering the final years of those deals and could be asked to restructure their deals or take pay cuts to free up additional cap space. But with the salary cap projected to jump another $10 million this offseason, the Packers could also afford to keep all three at their current numbers.
By getting a deal done with Adams now, the Packers took care of their top free-agent priority. Leading into March, they can focus on some of their other free agents-to-be, including center Corey Linsley, safety Morgan Burnett, tight end Richard Rodgers and guard Jahri Evans.
Asked last month about the uncertainty of not having an extension — and playing with backup quarterback Brett Hundley instead of Rodgers — Adams replied, “You just have to remove yourself from (thinking about the contract) and think about putting good film together. I can’t control how many (balls) or how the ball is coming to me, what routes it’s going to come to me on. Sometimes the game will dictate that or the coverage will dictate it. I just try to focus on the now and try to run my routes. People watch film, coaches watch film, they know what’s going on. Just do what I can out there and try not to think about it.”