Davante Adams entering rarified air at the receiver position

Packers’ All-Pro closing in on more history as 2021 draws to a close

WR Davante Adams

GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers has played with Hall of Famers, All-Pros and some of the best players to ever put on a Packers uniform during his 17-year NFL career.

After Sunday's 24-22 win over the Cleveland Browns, the three-time MVP paid longtime receiver Davante Adams the ultimate compliment when Rodgers said the five-time Pro Bowler was the best of the bunch and called Adams the "most dominant player" he's played with.

On Wednesday, Rodgers was asked at what point Adams began to separate himself from the pack. It wasn't a particular play or touchdown, but the totality of Adams' work the past few years, and it's prompting Hall of Fame discussion.

"When you have sustained success and you're one of the top three at the position for multiple years that, in my opinion, should warrant consideration," said Rodgers on Wednesday.

"I feel like Davante has done that the last three years and been a top-three player at his position. Obviously, the numbers bear that out."

The numbers do add up, especially the past four seasons. Since 2018, Adams has been one of the league's most consistently prolific playmakers with 415 receptions for 5,119 yards and 46 touchdowns.

The 29-year-old receiver has carved his name deep into the record books, owning the franchise record now for single-season receptions (115). His eight games with at least 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and multiple TDs are an NFL record.

Entering Sunday's penultimate regular-season game, Adams needs just 70 receiving yards to join Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, and Marvin Harrison, and eventual Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, as the only receivers in NFL history with at least 600 catches, 8,000 receiving yards and 70 TD receptions in their first eight seasons.

In the win over the Browns, Rodgers and Adams connected for the 66th and 67th touchdowns together – moving the duo past Rodgers and Jordy Nelson for most TD connections in team history.

While you might have thought nostalgia and reflection triggered Rodgers' postgame comments about Adams, it's sentiment the quarterback actually shared with his receiver before the game.

"It caught me off-guard when he texted me that the other day," Adams said. "To hear something like that out of the blue – there was no conversation that led up to it or anything like that, it was just strictly from his heart, something he was thinking about – so it means a lot to me as a player, especially the type of guy that I am because you know obviously I'm always trying to continue to improve and make his job as easy as possible."

A second-round pick in 2014, Adams followed in a long line of Pro Bowl receivers who made their mark in Green Bay. A run that began with Donald Driver and Greg Jennings saw Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and eventually Adams develop into Rodgers' trusted targets.

A big reason for that was how those receivers could operate on the same, unspoken wavelength with the now 10-time Pro Bowl quarterback. As talented as Nelson and Co. were, Adams possesses the perfect combo of athleticism, skill and football IQ.

There was no better example of that than the 9-yard touchdown Rodgers and Adams connected on against the Browns. Based on the coverage the offense was seeing, Rodgers initially wanted to signal a check to Adams in slot.

But after thinking about it for a second, Rodgers chose to trust that Adams would see what he was seeing and the two would remain on the same page without the deliberate audible.

Adams accurately gauged where the soft spot would be in the coverage, beating his cornerback inside and coming free for the record-setting TD. After a slow start to the year in the red zone, Adams has now scored seven times in his last five games.

"Just opps," said Adams about what's been the difference as of late, referring to opportunities. "Obviously at the beginning of the year we didn't get off to the start we wanted to as far as our connection. We had the yards and the production but putting points on the board is the most important part, scoring touchdowns. It just makes things easier for the whole team. It was never something I was worried about, but just getting a few more opportunities down there and capitalizing on them."

Predictably, Adams has seen more attention in recent weeks, including the "17 Bulldog" package the Baltimore Ravens concocted in an attempt to contain the All-Pro with double- and triple-coverage.

Other than that, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound receiver has been unstoppable. He's caught at least seven passes with 100 or more receiving yards in four of Green Bay's last five games.

There's still more out there for Adams, too. With 10 more catches, he can shatter his own franchise record for single-season receptions. Adams needs 158 receiving yards over the next two games to break Nelson's single-season team mark of 1,519.

With just four receptions, Adams will pull into a second-place tie with DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown for most seasons with at least 110 catches (three). Only retired wideout Wes Welker (five) has more.

That trajectory has both Adams and Rodgers thinking about the Hall of Fame possibilities if the receiver can stay on this prodigious course.

"I've played with some incredible players but the kind of dominance that I've seen from Davante warrants that type of praise," Rodgers said. "I've played with some great receivers over the years and appreciated the different skillsets that they brought to the table. But I feel like the way Davante's been playing the last few years, it's something that I haven't quite seen during my 17 years."


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