There are arguments to be made on both sides of the huge trade between the Packers and Raiders that sent Davante Adams to Las Vegas and made him the league’s highest paid receiver. In fact, it’s certainly possible the deal makes sense for both sides of the trade.
The Packers get the Raiders’ first and second round picks in this year’s draft in the deal. The Raiders get Adams coming off his second All Pro nod to reunite with Derek Carr who was his QB at Fresno State.
Where the criticism of the trade comes into play from the Raiders’ side of the deal is giving a five-year, $141.25 million deal to a receiver who is approaching 30 years of age.
How valid is that criticism? Well, let’s explore that.
We have long put the age of 30 as the expiration date on running backs, but it isn’t really a *thing* with regard to receivers. But *is* it a thing? I really didn’t know, so I went back and looked at the last 10 years to see how many receivers were still at or near the top of their game over the age of 30.
First, let’s look at the five years between 2012 and 2016. In those years, no fewer than three wide receivers each season surpassed the 1000-yard mark. And in 2016, six wide receivers did it.
Those figures could be why there isn’t an over-30 stigma placed on wideouts like there is for running backs.
The past five years tell a very different story.
Since 2017 a total of just four wide receivers over the age of 30 have surpassed 1000 yards in a season. And no receiver over 30 has done it the past two years.
The four over-30 receivers to surpass 1,000 yards were Larry Fitzgerald in 2017 (1,156 at age 34), Antonio Brown in 2018 (1297 at age 30), and Julio Jones (1394 at age 30) and Julian Edelman (1117 at age 33) in 2019.
In the past two seasons, the only player to surpass 1000 yards over the age of 30 was tight end Travis Kelce. He did it in both 2020 and 2021 at ages 31 and 32.
No wide receiver over the age of 30 the past five years has had multiple 1000-yard receiving seasons. And with the deal the Raiders just gave Adams, that’s at bare minimum of what they expect from him.
If you expand it to the past ten years, the list of wide receivers to surpass 1000 yards multiple seasons over the age of 30 grows, but is still short. It consists of Larry Fitzgerald, Julian Edelman, Steve Smith Sr, Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson, Anquan Boldin, and Vincent Jackson.
Is Davante Adams on the level of those receivers? Sure, he is. So, it’s certainly possible he could surpass 1000 yards multiple seasons.
Adams put up a career-high 1,553 yards last season which was second in the NFL. He won’t actually hit 30 until December, so even if you believe 30 is the moment his career numbers will begin to taper off rapidly, you figure the Raiders will get at least one elite season out of him. That is, of course, if the change in offense and quarterback doesn’t negatively affect his overall numbers.
Even if we say his post-30 career doesn’t *officially* begin until next year, what about the four years remaining on his contract? Can he keep it up until the age of at least age 33 to continue to justify his contract? Highly unlikely, but he may not have to.
As is always the case, the initial numbers on the contract as reported are not as they seem. The agents put out the highest possible number after incentives and including all non-guaranteed money. Pro Football Talk delved into the details of the contract and found they weren’t quite what they seemed.
The main details, of course, surround guaranteed money, which turns a supposed five-year, $141.25 million contract into a three-year, $67.5 million deal. And only $22.75 million of that is guaranteed at signing. The rest doesn’t become guaranteed until 2023.
So, essentially if after one year, Adams isn’t playing at the level of his hefty paycheck, they can cut ties. If he is, they are still only on the hook for two more years with an average of $23 million per season — not the $28.25M per season that the initial overall contract numbers suggest.
After three seasons, he will be 32 years old, approaching 33 and his base salary will jump to over $35 million per season. And for what it’s worth the only receivers to put up over 1000 yards at 32 or older over the past seven years are Larry Fitzgerald and Julian Edelman.
Safe to say Adams will never see the final two years of that five-year deal. And while it isn’t unheard of for wide receivers of his age to live up to his contract numbers, it is certainly quite rare.