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As many football fans hunkered down for their St. Patrick’s Day eve festivities, an alert popped up on phones across the country that shocked the NFL world. The message confirmed a Davante Adams trade between the Green Bay Packers and Las Vegas Raiders.

The news not only stunned the average NFL supporter but those in the know as well. Even former Packers star A.J. Hawk says that he nor anyone he talks to (presumably including other former and current Packers) understands why the Davante Adams trade went down.

The Davante Adams trade shocked the NFL world

The Green Bay Packers organization is no stranger to shock and awe, and controversy in recent years. After all, it is the home of Aaron Rodgers.

However, this latest surprise had little or nothing to do with the mercurial quarterback.

In a bombshell deal on March 17, 2022, the Packers agreed to trade five-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders for 2022 first- and second-round picks.

The deal is a real coup for the Raiders. The team gets, arguably, the best WR in football. Adams produced 123 receptions for 1,553 yards and scored 11 touchdowns last season. It also reunites QB Derek Carr with his Fresno State teammate and keeps the Raiders afloat in the arms race that is the AFC West.

For the Packers, the deal is much more ponderous.

Aaron Rodgers recently decided to return to Wisconsin for, what seems like, the rest of his NFL career. He made his decision quicker this offseason than last, and one reason was to be respectful of players like Adams, who had offseason decisions to make.

Saying this seemed to imply that Rodgers staying would let Adams know he could stay, too. The Packers franchised Adams — a move the WR has vehemently opposed in the past — but most observers assumed the one-year pact was just a bridge to a long-term deal.

These assumptions are why so many, including former Packers players, were dumbfounded when the Davante Adams trade went down.

Former Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk seemed as confused as anybody by the Davante Adams trade

The day after the Davante Adams trade happened, sports talk host Pat McAfee added himself to the list of observers shocked by the deal. As the host of “Aaron Rodgers’ Tuesdays” on the Pat McAfee Show, the former NFL punter is about as inside as it gets when it comes to the Green Bay Packers.

One of the few people to have even more insight into what’s happening in Green Bay at any given time is McAfee’s co-host and former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk.  

When Hawk joined the program last Friday, McAfee asked Rodgers and Adam’s former teammate if he had any insight from his QB buddy on the “insane” deal that happened the night before.

It’s absolutely insane when you think about how all of this happened, and all the sudden, Aaron signs his deal. He’s coming back. Davante’s tagged — oh wait — we’re trading him to the Raiders, and he gets a gigantic contract through them. … When you hear him say the Packers were willing to pay him more than the Raiders, and he still went to the Raiders, what happened to make him not want to be in Green Bay? And is this something new? That’s why I think anyone I talk to seems pretty confused.

A.J. Hawk on the Davante Adams trade

Reports have since emerged, like this one from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, that Rodgers understood while making his decision that “Davante Adams would never play for the #Packers again. The situation was too far gone.”

If Rodgers did know, he seems like one of the few in and around the organization who did.

Now that the deal is done, though, life moves on. And after completing one of the surprise blockbusters of the 2022 offseason, general manager Brian Gutekunst’s focus must turn to replacing the All-World wideout.

What do the Packers do at WR now? 

Green Bay Packers WR (L) chats with Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr in 2016. The Davante Adams trade reunited the former college teammates.
Davante Adams and Derek Carr | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

One of the reasons that the Davante Adams trade was so shocking to so many was that the Green Bay Packers haven’t made any moves in the free agency or trade markets that signal they knew they would need to replace their best pass-catcher.

Right now, 32-year-old Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, and Amari Rodgers are the only three WRs of note on the roster, and in 2022, this trio contributed by catching 72 of Aaron Rodgers’ 531 completions. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, who combined for another 35 catches last season, are still unsigned free agents.

The Packers have also sat out free agency for many of the top receivers on the market. The team failed to sign Christian Kirk (Jacksonville Jaguars), Juju Smith-Schuster (Kansas City Chiefs), Mike Williams (Los Angeles Chargers), Allen Robinson (Los Angeles Rams), or D.J. Chark (Detroit Lions).

There are still some bigger-name free agent WRs out there, but most come with one issue or another. This list includes Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham Jr., and Will Fuller, among others.

The good news for the Packers is that the 2022 NFL draft is full of talented, first-round-caliber pass-catchers. Ohio State’s Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, USC’s Drake London, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, and Penn State’s Jahan Dotson fit that bill.

The Packers can look to take their favorite at the Raiders’ No. 22 pick or their own No. 28.  

Lastly, trading is still an option, although not the Packers’ usual style. The Seattle Seahawks’ DK Metcalf is the one WR left in a tenuous situation which may make sense.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference