Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams' Fates Are Inextricably Linked

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams
Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

The Green Bay Packers' season ended in exactly the way the franchise desperately tried to avoid-- a disappointing early playoff exit, the result of a complete meltdown by an entire team. Nobody cares how well the regular season went if it all comes to an end like that in the postseason. It was the kind of loss that could have significant ramifications because the two best players on the roster may try to force their way out because of it.

Those two players are, of course, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Rodgers' holdout from the team last offseason forced Green Bay to rework his contract to allow him to be traded this offseason without a huge financial penalty. Adams is a free agent who declined to sign an extension last offseason in part because of the uncertainty surrounding the Rodgers situation. The fates of both players are inextricably linked.

On a basic football level, Rodgers will obviously want to keep one of the best receivers in the game by his side if he decides to stay with the Packers. Should the quarterback come back in a few months and tell the franchise he's staying, Green Bay will have no choice but to give Adams whatever he wants in the form of a new contract. That is certainly not the worst outcome in the world, even if it'll make a messy cap situation even messier. The Packers get to benefit from the most dangerous QB-WR combo for another few years at least.

If Rodgers decides he wants out, then things get trickier. From everything we've seen and heard, Green Bay will acquiesce to a trade request from their Hall of Fame quarterback should he ask for it. This makes the situation with Adams complicated. He will probably not want to come back to the Packers without Rodgers. If his loyalty was to the franchise (or even the quickest and highest possible payday) then he would've inked a new deal last offseason. Since he did not, Adams is far more likely to try and get out with Rodgers than stick around with Jordan Love.

Since Adams is an unrestricted free agent, he'd be able to leave without much trouble if not for the looming threat of the franchise tag. If Rodgers leaves and Adams wants out, too, then the Packers have two choices: allow Adams to walk without getting anything in return or franchise tag him and figure it out. The former comes with obvious downsides and the latter could get messy very quickly. Adams can't pull a Le'Veon Bell where he signs the tag and then sits out so that he can hit free agency again next year, but he can still participate in a classic holdout and publicly embarrass one of the league's most historic franchises, something that doesn't seem like it would sit well with Green Bay's front office. The Packers could always tag-and-trade him but that comes with its own financial complications.

Nobody knows how it'll turn out at this juncture. But there is a very clear and obvious domino effect that starts with Rodgers' final decision, which he said yesterday he would probably make by February 22nd (the first day the franchise tag can be applied to prospective free agents) so that Adams knows what his negotiating position will be heading into the offseason.

Rodgers and Adams may have played their last snap together, but their futures are tied together for now.