NFL News & Analysis

Davante Adams wants to be NFL's highest-paid WR, and there are a number of ways Brian Gutekunst could make it happen

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) runs after the catch past Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (24) during the 1st quarter of the Green Bay Packers game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC championship playoff game Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Packers Packers25 Mjd 07288

The Green Bay Packers and Davante Adams are at the point of openly negotiating the All-Pro wide receiver’s next contract to the media.

Adams told reporters Wednesday he believes he’s earned the right to be the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL and won’t settle for less. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst publicly responded to that claim Thursday, telling reporters, ​​“I think there’s a little bit with that situation how you determine what the highest wide receiver is getting paid.”

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Adams is seeking a deal that would surpass Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ average annual value (AAV) of $27.25 million, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, but Gutekunst is right — that’s not the only way to determine the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. There’s also total value, total guarantees and guarantees at signing. And different wide receivers throughout the NFL hold those distinctions of “highest-paid.”

Dallas Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper currently owns the largest contract at his position by total value after signing a five-year deal worth $100 million last year. However, the deal only fully guarantees $40 million and comes with a total injury guarantee of $60 million.

Hopkins is the highest-paid wide receiver per year after signing a two-year extension with the Cardinals, a deal worth $54.5 million with $42.75 million fully guaranteed and a total vesting guarantee of $49.4 million.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. still has the most total money guaranteed in his contract. He inked a five-year, $90 million contract in 2018, with $65 million in total guarantees and nearly $41 million guaranteed at signing.

Julio Jones has the most money fully guaranteed among wide receivers after signing a three-year, $66 million contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons. The deal comes with $64 million guaranteed at signing.

Player Team Total Value AAV Total Guaranteed Guaranteed At Signing
$66 million $22 million $64 million $64 million
$54.5 million $27.25 million $49.4 million $42.75 million
Beckham Jr.
$90 million $18 million $65 million $40.959 million
$100 million $20 million $60 million $40 million

AAV = Average annual value

So, to make Adams the “highest-paid” wide receiver, the Packers could give him a deal worth more than $100 million total, averaging more than $27.25 million, with total guarantees that surpass $65 million or with guarantees at signing that exceed $64 million.

If the Green Bay Packers want to view DeAndre Hopkins’ extension as an outlier, PFF’s own Brad Spielberger suggested Adams’ agents work off Julio Jones’ extension and request a four-year deal worth $95 million fully guaranteed at signing. The Packers don’t structure deals this way, so it’s not a legitimate ask, but sometimes you have to meet fire with fire.

That would be the richest wide receiver contract in NFL history by total guarantees and guarantees at signing. It would come close to Cooper’s $100 million contract and net him $23.75 million per year, which is more than any receiver other than Hopkins.

The big difference with the Hopkins and Jones extensions is there were still several years remaining on their original contracts, so those teams (and clearly Green Bay) could make a case that just looking at the new money value doesn’t perfectly translate to Adams in a contract year. Nevertheless, Green Bay has to give somewhere.

The Packers appeased quarterback Aaron Rodgers enough to convince the 2020 MVP to return to Green Bay this season, but the future of their union is still uncertain. Adams is still under contract for one more season, and the Packers have the option to use the franchise tag on their star wide receiver next offseason. That’s certainly not a scenario that would make Adams happy, however.

Adams led the NFL with 18 receiving touchdowns last season while catching 115 passes for 1,374 yards. He was PFF’s highest-graded wide receiver in 2020. He’s also PFF’s highest-graded wide receiver since 2018.

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