In a fine Chicago Bears debut on Sunday, new wide receiver Dontrelle Inman caught six passes for 88 yards, giving Bears fans – and probably QB Mitch Trubisky, too – some semblance of hope in the receiving corps going forward. Then again, having just one competent receiver can do only so much for a team and a rookie QB’s on-going development.
But there was another receiver on the field this Sunday who could help the Bears out as soon as next year – he just wasn’t wearing a Bears jersey.
Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams caught five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown Sunday and is a free agent at the end of the year. There obviously haven’t been any specific rumors connecting the receiver to Chicago (we’re still in the middle of a season, after all), but it’s something we’d like to put on your radar.
Why? Well because being a reliable target for a 2015 fifth-round pick who had more interceptions than touchdown passes coming into Sunday’s game speaks volumes about Adams’ upside in the right situation (and also, probably, his ability to command a significant pay raise in the offseason). No, Adams isn’t Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb. And yes, red flags go up when a receiver like Adams breaks out behind two high-caliber players. But his performance against what has been an improved Bears secondary is certainly noteworthy.
The 6-1, 215-pound Adams broke out in 2016, setting career bests in targets (121), catches (75), receiving yards (997), and touchdowns. He seems to have gained Rodgers’ trust, as the two-time NFL MVP has posted a 110.1 passer rating and 16-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio the last two years when throwing to Adams. After nine games in 2017, Adams is on pace for roughly 128 targets, 75 catches, 878 yards, and 10 touchdowns. It’s a bit of a step back from last year, but only Nelson has more touchdown receptions since the start of 2016.
No need for a deep dive regarding Adams at this point, but let’s note that his durability (missed just three games in four seasons) and fit as an outside receiver (where has lined up on 82 percent of his snaps in 2017) could fit perfectly on the Bears, who’ve had issues with both. As a point of comparison, the Bears receiver who has lined up the most on the outside this season has been Tanner Gentry, who’s currently on the practice squad. Finding a playmaker who can line up outside the numbers should be a high priority for GM Ryan Pace.
Back in April, ESPN’s John Clayton listed Adams as a “sleeper” in his story breaking down the best potential free agents at each position in 2018. It’s an ESPN Insider piece, so I won’t give up too much, but the 2014 second-round pick from what was a loaded receiver draft class will be one of the few standouts to hit free agency. That is, of course, if he and the Packers don’t agree to an extension before he hits the market.
According to Over The Cap, the Packers have some big money on the books as far as receivers are concerned for 2018. Cobb comes with a $12.75 million cap number, while Nelson is at $12.55. However, both can be free agents after 2018, so it’s possible Green Bay would lock up Adams for his age 26 season and beyond, as 2018 will see Cobb play at age 28 and Nelson at 33.
So maybe Adams will be caught in an offseason bidding war between the Bears and Packers, which would put a new twist on the NFL’s oldest rivalry.