Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he was “surprised” by the team trading former receiver Davante Adams this offseason, in his first public comments since signing a three-year, $150 million extension and the trade of his No. 1 wide receiver.
Speaking during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers said he believed his return to the Packers would influence their ability to strike a deal with Adams and that he had communicated with the two-time All-Pro before returning.
“It was a little surprising with Davante — obviously when I made my decision, I was still thinking he was going to come back,” Rodgers said. “I was very honest with him about my plans and my future and where I saw my career going, as far as how many years I want to play. But I felt like he was going to be back, didn’t obviously turn out that way, but I have so much love for ‘Tae and appreciate the time we spent together and definitely wish him the best in Derek [Carr] in Vegas. But that’s a big hole to fill.”
In March, Green Bay traded Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders for a 2022 first-round and second-round pick. The Raiders then signed him to a five-year, $141.25 million contract that reset the wide receiver market. His departure left the Packers’ wide receiver room thin — a situation exacerbated when Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed with the Kansas City Chiefs a week later.
Even with their additional first-round pick, the Packers did not select a receiver in the first round of this year’s draft, something they have never done in Rodgers’ 17-year career. He wasn’t upset or necessarily surprised by their decision, saying he had been communicating with the team throughout the night.
The four-time NFL MVP said teams have to exercise caution because there tend to be “a lot of receiver busts in the first round.” He did call former Alabama receiver Jameson Williams the most “NFL ready” receiver in the draft, despite his recovery from a torn ACL; Williams was drafted by division rival Detroit at No. 12 overall.
With the top six receivers off the board — Rodgers hinted that the Packers only had first-round grades on those six — general manager Brian Gutekunst went heavy on defense and heavy on Georgia Bulldogs with linebacker Quay Walker at No. 22 and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt at No. 28.
Gutekunst said he explored the possibility of trading up to take a receiver that he liked.
“There was a couple, there was a few,” Gutekunst said. “That run happened early. They’re really good players. At the same time I think you’ve got to look at the asking price and does that make sense?”
Rodgers was on the air with McAfee when the Packers picked Wyatt, a player Rodgers said he knew the Packers were hoping to land. In fact, Rodgers spent a day at the team facility last week even though he hasn’t been there for offseason workouts. He and Gutekunst met at that point to discuss the state of the team. Meanwhile, during the draft, Gutekunst said coach Matt LaFleur was in an on-going text conversation with Rodgers.
“Aaron, he’s unbelievable,” Gutekunst said. “Our communication, I mean where we were and where we are now, I would say is night and day. I’m very appreciative of that. He was here last week for a day and we certainly spent some time talking about our team and kind of where we thought we might be heading and some of the things we might want to do moving forward.
“That input, that conversation is always welcome and certainly valuable to me. But when I get into this process along with our scouts, we’re pretty tunnel vision, but like I said, there was a lot of texting going on next to me.”
Gutekunst said he won’t force a receiver pick on Friday when he has two second-round picks (Nos. 53 and 59) and a third-rounder (92).
“I don’t think we have to,” he said. “I think there’s some really good receivers left in this draft and we’ll kind of see how it plays out. We have nine picks left, so we’ve got a lot of ammunition. Whether we stick and pick or move around, we’ll kind of see how that goes.”
Rodgers also said he felt like the Packers were “in the mix” for some of the receivers on the trade market this offseason but admitted there are complexities to adding a receiver in that manner.
“There’s not a lot of teams that probably want to trade receivers to Green Bay, so I think we’re probably at the back of the line for a lot of these teams,” he said. “But at the same time, I think if you’re not going to pay Davante — obviously, we traded him, he wanted to move on — but going out and paying another guy, I don’t know if that makes a ton of sense … I feel like we’ve been in the mix but does San Francisco really want to trade Deebo Samuel to us?
“I’m sure Packer nation will be wondering why we didn’t take a receiver or trade up but at this point, you’ve just got to have some faith in the organization and faith that whoever we bring in tomorrow and the rest of this draft, I’m going to put in the time to make it work with those guys and we’re going to find a way in Matt’s offense to be successful — like we always have.
“It’s not going to be any different this year — we’re going to be in the mix.”
Rodgers, 38, noted Green Bay’s success finding talent at receiver after the first round — specifically in Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Adams.
Rodgers said the Packers will miss Adams but added that it’s part of the transactional nature of the NFL.
“It’s a tough business, it’s a wonderful profession. Those of us who have been [able] to play for so long realize that completely,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that happen that surprise you, even still. I thought that based on the number that we offered Davante and being able to play with me for a few more years would make a difference, but in the end I think he was ready to move on and wanted my help in making that happen.
“It was a tough position to be in, for sure, because I love him and I care about him and I want him to be happy, and he’s definitely going to be missed.”
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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