Former Packers receiver Davante Adams says trade to Raiders was 'meant to be'
GREEN BAY - He spoke with his former college quarterback weekly, two friends sharing stories about life, reminiscing on the past, dreaming of the future whenever their NFL careers ended.
It didn’t matter what time of year. During the season. Offseason. The two college buddies always talked.
On the surface, nothing changed when Davante Adams and Derek Carr continued their conversations after last season. Only these conversations were different. Adams was about to become a free agent. They didn’t need to just dream about what future they might have after football.
Sometime between the Green Bay Packers' stunning loss in the NFC divisional round against San Francisco, the team Adams grew up rooting against, those conversations became more about business. Adams had a chance, he knew, to rekindle the magic he and Carr shared in college. To not just reunite with his former quarterback, but to join the team Adams grew up rooting for.
The genesis of last week’s shocking trade to the Las Vegas Raiders started there. Two friends discussing an idea. It morphed into a franchise changer, a loss that will force the Packers to reinvent their offense, even if a certain MVP quarterback is still in town.
“It started to become more of a reality,” Adams said, “I think once we got after the season obviously. It was something that we didn’t even entertain during the season, because we both had to focus on trying to win the Super Bowl. Obviously, that was A-No. 1, but once we wrapped up the season, started communicating a little bit. Still didn’t really, fully dive into it because we wanted to decompress from the season, allow each other to put our thinking caps on a little bit, see where we were.
“Then as things progressed a little bit more, obviously we communicate multiple times a week as it is, aside from even trying to team up. So once we got to a point where it was something that could be realistic, it was not just a thought, we tried to put a little bit of a plan together.”
For Adams, putting on a Raiders uniform was almost preordained. The All-Pro receiver grew up in the Bay Area, where he rooted for the team formerly from Oakland. In third grade, Adams said, he documented in his school’s yearbook a goal to play in either the NFL or NBA.
He wore a Charles Woodson jersey on picture day. The Raiders version.
“It is a dream to be a Raider,” Adams said.
That dream casts doubt on whether the Packers had much chance of preventing last week’s trade, which sent them a first- and second-round pick for the pain of losing a receiver who set or tied franchise records in catches, yards and touchdown receptions in the past two seasons. Yes, a year of hard negotiations predated Adams’ departure, but money wasn’t the only motivator. Adams, who wore a black suit, tie and shirt for his Raiders introduction Tuesday, joked few people even congratulated him on signing the five-year, $141.25 million contract that makes him the highest-paid receiver in NFL history.
Instead, friends and family toasted to achieving a lifelong vision of playing for his childhood team. It’s a dream professional athletes often never realize.
“It’s been documented forever,” Adams said. “So I guess you could say it was meant to be.”
Adams will be surrounded by familiarity in Las Vegas, not just with his quarterback. Edgar Bennett, who coached Adams with the Packers, is the Raiders' receivers coach. He’s one of the first people Adams saw when he arrived at the Raiders' facility.
The two picked up where they left off. Adams nudged his receivers coach to “ease up” on the infamous tests that used to bedevil Packers receivers.
“He started dying laughing,” Adams said. “Because EB was one of the guys who, he has a lot to do with who I am today just from the mental aspect of approaching the game. Because this man used to put together some of the most impossible wide receiver tests to pass ever. I mean, it was almost like it was being set up. It wasn’t fun, but when I look back on it now, the way I look at the game, the way I can dissect the game knowing coverages and things like that, EB had a lot to do with that.”
Adams indicated the trade unfolded rapidly. He said it wasn’t until after the news broke that he learned of his move. Adams didn’t get a chance to formally tell his family the lifelong dream was real, he said. Until it was final, Adams said the trade remained only an idea.
Now he’ll start the reality of a second career outside the team that selected him in the second round of the 2014 draft. Since then, Adams went through many variations, from the Fresno State star who was overlooked in the first round, to the struggling, young receiver unfortunately nicknamed “Dropvante” on social media, to the superstar who is arguably the NFL’s best at his position.
Adams spoke little of the Packers on Tuesday, not surprising as he ingratiated himself to a new fan base. He made clear his time in Green Bay will be cherished.
“Me playing in Green Bay,” Adams said, “great situation having the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. That’s a dream in itself. So I would never take anything away from anything Green Bay gave me, or Aaron (Rodgers) gave me. It was an amazing opportunity to work over there and do what I did for almost a decade, but things change sometimes. It’s not the first time that an impactful player to an organization had to leave, and I feel like it worked out for both sides ultimately.”