GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers is back, and one way or another, it looks like Davante Adams will be as well now that the Green Bay Packers have placed the franchise tag on the All-Pro receiver.
Shortly after the news of Rodgers' return, the Packers on Tuesday tagged their star wide receiver just before the deadline.
The Packers were going to tag Adams regardless of Rodgers' status; he was set to become a free agent on March 16. This allows the Packers to continue negotiations on a long-term deal until July 15 but also have the safety net of retaining Adams via the tag. However, until any deal is reached, the franchise-tag total of about $20.1 million for Adams will count on the Packers' already overloaded salary cap as soon as free agency begins.
The Packers already were $27.5 million over their 2022 projected cap without Adams' tag number counting and will almost certainly try to get Adams to sign a long-term deal, which would lower his cap number.
The franchise-tag total represents a 20% increase over Adams' 2021 compensation -- which includes base salary, roster bonuses and the prorated portion of his original $18 million signing bonus from when he signed his most recent contract on Dec. 30, 2017. That contract averaged $14.5 million, which put him at No. 17 on the receiver pay scale last season.
It's unlikely that Adams would play for the franchise-tag number; it would offer him no long-term security and it would be difficult for the Packers to absorb on their salary cap.
When asked late last season about the possibility of being tagged, Adams said: "I'm not sure how to answer that safely right now. So, we'll just cross that bridge when we get to it. I'll just say that. I like to be professional on here."
Rodgers and Adams own the Packers' record for most career touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver combination with 68, breaking Rodgers and Jordy Nelson's previous mark of 65.
Last summer, Adams made no secret of his desire to be the NFL's highest-paid receiver. The Packers agreed, but the sides could not agree on what defined the highest-paid receiver. Adams and his agent, Frank Bauer, estimate the standard is $27.75 million per year, the average in Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins' contract.
However, the Packers view Hopkins' average as closer to $20 million per year given that his most recent deal was an extension to his previous contract (five years, $81 million). The added money was $54.5 million over two more years.
Last summer, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst explained his viewpoint like this: "It's how you interpret what the highest receiver in the National Football League is getting paid, you know what I mean?"
Adams set the Packers' single-season record for receptions (123) and receiving yards (1,553) last season. He became just the sixth player in NFL history with 120-plus catches, 1,500-plus yards and 11-plus touchdown catches in the same season. He's the only player in NFL history with three seasons (2018, 2020-21) of 110-plus catches, 1,350-plus receiving yards and 11-plus receiving TDs and one of just three players in league history with 650-plus receptions, 8,000-plus receiving yards and 70-plus TD catches in his first eight seasons in the NFL; Marvin Harrison and Larry Fitzgerald are the others.
Before tagging Adams, the Packers had not used it since 2010 (defensive tackle Ryan Pickett).