In the NFL, 30 is a magic number. When a player reaches that age, the ticks on the clock for their careers get louder and louder as they’re seen as “old” and in the later stages of their playing days. That became a reality last Christmas Eve for Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams as he celebrated his 30th birthday.
Adams is a well-accomplished receiver who has been a First-team All-Pro selection in each of the last three seasons while simultaneously making six straight Pro Bowls and he’ll likely have a bronze bust in Canton, Ohio when it’s all said and done. However, there is one career milestone that he has yet to accomplish and that’s winning a Super Bowl.
The problem is the future Hall of Famer is only getting older and the Raiders appear to be in rebuild mode, which Adams told The Ringer’s Mirin Fader he doesn’t have time for.
Adams is committed to turning things around in Las Vegas, but a full-blown rebuilding process may take longer than he can afford at this point in his career. “I don’t have enough time for that,” Adams told Fader. He has to figure out how to help this team win now. How to harmonize the competing elements tugging at him: patience and urgency, ambition and time.
When the wideout originally signed up to play for the Silver and Black, he thought he’d finish his career with a good friend and former college teammate, Derek Carr. However, Carr struggled last season and the team’s brass decided to let the quarterback go in the offseason.
When his friend got benched last December, Adams wasn’t happy about the decision but understood it, stating: “I don’t think anybody was excited about it in here. ... Obviously, I support my guy. We’ve got to finish the season up the best way we can.” His response showed maturity, but there’s no denying there is a level of disconnect between his vision for the team and the front office’s, per Adams’ interview with The Ringer.
Still, Adams has reservations about the Raiders’ vision for the offense: “[The front office] thinks this is the best bet for us right now to put us in a position to be urgent,” he says. “We don’t see eye-to-eye on what we think is best for us right now.”
The Raiders front office has welcomed Adams’s input on roster moves, and he says he’s grateful to be included in those conversations. Still, he knows he doesn’t make the final decisions. “I’m going to have to buy into this and try to be as optimistic as possible,” he says. “It’s not what I expected to happen, but it’s something that’s the reality now.”
The biggest move the team’s brass made this offseason was to bring in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who Adams has been able to connect with on a personal level, but the duo’s playing styles might clash on the field.
“He’s a really cool dude, talking to him,” Adams said of Garoppolo via The Ringer. “I really haven’t been around him enough to truly know what type of leader he is. I’ve only heard good things from his teammates, though, so that’s a good thing, because it’s guys that I know wouldn’t mess around with stuff like that.”
“It all depends on the style of ball that we play,” Adams continued. “If we play a certain brand of ball, I can get [Garoppolo] to conform to whatever. But if we use him a certain type of way, then it’s going to make it tough for us to maximize who we should be this year.”
While the wideout didn’t specify what his concerns are, the assumption is that at least part of his worry is how the offense’s deep passing attack will be different with the change under center.
During the 2022 regular season, Adams tied for the most targets 20 or more yards past the line of scrimmage (38) among wide receivers, ranked fourth in catches (15), third in yards (593) and first in touchdowns (nine), per Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Garoppolo has never been known for pushing the ball down the field, throwing deep on just 9.1 percent of his passes last season which was tied for 34 out of 40 qualifying quarterbacks.
Obviously, they’ll have to find a middle ground in 2023 and that will be an adjustment for both players, and that’s something the perennial All-Pro is more than willing to do.
No matter what the offense looks like, Adams is committed to making it work. “My goal is to win a Super Bowl with this team. And that’s why I didn’t come here to just be cute with Derek,” he says, via The Ringer. “It is to really try and have a shot and change this organization.”
The pursuit of that coveted championship is obviously part of what keeps Adams motivated, but he also revealed to Fader what his personal goal for this season and beyond is.
“Me not being mentioned as the best receiver in the league, it frightens me,” he says. “It gives me a certain hunger to keep going.”