This article originally appeared on USA TODAY Sports+: As Raiders welcome new star Davante Adams, Packers prepare to replace him

As Raiders welcome new star Davante Adams, Packers prepare to replace him

Davante Adams' desire to move closer to home changes the 2022 dynamic for both the Packers and Raiders.

Safid Deen
USA TODAY Sports+

PALM BEACH, Florida — As the Las Vegas Raiders prepare for life with premier receiver Davante Adams, the Green Bay Packers focus on moving forward without him. 

Adams' trade dramatically shifted both teams’ outlooks and expectations.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur enjoyed the tandem of Adams and star quarterback Aaron Rodgers during runs to three consecutive NFC championship games. Now, Green Bay must quickly find a player, or players, who can keep open their window to win a Super Bowl with Rodgers. 

The team needs someone able to threaten defenders with speed and separation. And they must be willing to experience some growing pains that could come with working next to a future Hall of Famer like Rodgers. 

“You better be on high alert at all times, because he’ll give you the most subtle signal, and you better see that,” LaFleur said during NFL league meetings this week.

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Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams celebrates with quarterback Aaron Rodgers after scoring a second quarter touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Adams passed Jordy Nelson for second place on the Packers' all-time touchdown receptions list with 70.

The Packers were unwilling to make Adams the richest receiver in the NFL, so the Raiders did.

Green Bay sent Adams to Las Vegas March 17 in exchange for first- and second-round picks in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft. The Raiders agreed to pay Adams $28.5 million annually with $67.5 million guaranteed at signing. 

A week later, the Miami Dolphins acquired receiver Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs. He signed an extension that will pay $30 million annually with $72.2 million guaranteed, overtaking Adams' deal on the list of top-paid receivers. 

“It’s one of those things where those decisions are never easy to make. Unfortunately, it was one we had to come to,” LaFleur said of losing Adams, whose 29 touchdowns in the last two seasons were the most by any player. “I think a lot of it was driven by Davante. But there’s no sense on moving back. We’re moving forward.”

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Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams speaks during a news conference with the NFL football team Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in Henderson, Nev.

The Raiders, whose new coach Josh McDaniels tempered how much Adams boosts Las Vegas’ potential, are also moving forward.

McDaniels certainly wasn’t jumping for joy while discussing the acquisition at The Breakers Palm Beach resort, where NFL league meetings took place.

Maybe he’s jaded after two stints and 18 seasons with the Patriots. The Raiders job is his second NFL head coaching appointment after spending two seasons with the Broncos over a decade ago.

“I think we added a good football player. Anytime you can add a good football player, that helps your team,” McDaniels said. “We felt like the investment at this point would be worth it for us. And hopefully, we can make the most out of this opportunity.” 

The Raiders have the potential to challenge Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West title. The Chiefs have held the conference mightily for six consecutive seasons.

Las Vegas must also fend off a new-look Denver Broncos team with Russell Wilson at quarterback, while the Chargers retooled their defense, adding Khalil Mack and cornerback JC Jackson. 

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McDaniels is happy for both Adams and nine-year Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who get to reunite after playing together at Fresno State.

The new Raiders coach knows the connection Adams and Carr share go deeper than just friendship and football. He said he’s excited to see that affection carry onto the field.

Along with talented tight end Darren Waller, running back Josh Jacobs and shifty slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, the Raiders offense could be one of the most formidable in the NFL next season.

But McDaniels knows the Raiders have plenty of work ahead to ensure their leap of faith works.

“We like the idea of what we have, but ideas are just what they are on paper,” McDaniels said. “Until we see it happen on the field consistently, there’s a lot of fundamental work that has to be done for us to realize whatever potential we may have.”

As for the Packers, their potential rests on the franchise’s ability to find rookie receivers in the draft that could quickly become reliable targets for Rodgers in the passing game.

Among 11 draft picks, the Packers have two picks in both the first and second rounds. They’ll try to find at least one standout who can take the top off the defense and ease their transition from Adams.

Ohio State duo Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, USC’s Drake London, Arkansas standout Treylon Burks and Alabama’s Jameson Williams headline the 2022 receiving class.

The Packers would be lucky to find a young, budding talent at the position who quickly prospers like Deebo Samuel, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Ja’Marr Chase have for their respective teams.

“Those guys are freaks,” LaFleur said. “There’s only a few Ja’Marr Chases of the world. But I think we have seen in the last couple years, guys have been able to transition and make an impact earlier in their careers than ever before.”

LaFleur also said his current playmakers,  running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, could be legitimate No. 1 options for any team. He also expressed excitement tight end Robert Tonyan will return after a knee injury ended his season.

Meanwhile, receiver Amari Rodgers, a third-round pick last year, will enter his second season, while veterans Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb are also in the mix.

Regardless of who steps up, someone will need to become Rodgers’ new favorite target to help him win his elusive second Super Bowl title. His first came in 2011.

Time is of the essence for Rodgers, who decided to return to the field with a three-year extension that could pay him $150 million, and see him end his career in Green Bay.

When could that end come?

We’ll see.

“I think he’ll go as long as he wants to go,” LaFleur said. “He’s got not only the talent and the mind, but the way he takes care of himself is good, as I’ve seen.

"Those aren’t conversations that we have regularly. We’re going to take advantage of the time he is with us, and continue to try and grind to someday be able to get a Super Bowl.”