Can Davante Adams Make the Raiders a Contender in the Stacked AFC West?

The Las Vegas Raiders can now say they’ve got the best wide receiver in the NFL on their roster in Davante Adams. They had to trade away a first and second-round pick in this year’s draft to the Green Bay Packers for that privilege, but in an AFC West division that’s absolutely loaded, it’s a move that will be worth it.

Just how much of a difference can Adams make for the Raiders, though? 

The Las Vegas Raiders play in the toughest division in the NFL, the AFC West

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders reacts after being sacked during the second half of a game against the Kansas City Chiefs | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The AFC West, home of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, was already going to be tough enough. Prior to this past offseason, when the Cincinnati Bengals shocked the NFL world by making it to the Super Bowl, Mahomes and the Chiefs had made it to two Super Bowls of their own, winning one. 

In fact, the Chiefs have been so dominant as of late that they’ve not just played in the past four AFC Championship Games, but they’ve hosted those games as well. Their in-division dominance is also unquestionable as of late. The Chiefs have won the AFC West six seasons in a row, going back to 2016.

That’s what Adams and the Raiders will have to live up to, and it’s not even considering the major moves that have happened elsewhere in the division.

Russell Wilson (yes, that Russell Wilson) is now with the Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Chargers were far from content to sit around and watch the rest of the division get better. Not only do they have their own top 10 quarterbacks in Justin Herbert, but they’ve made significant moves to bolster their defense, trading for Khalil Mack and signing star corner J.C. Jackson.

The Raiders may have an elite offense with the addition of Adams. The Chargers have built a defense meant to stop them, though, and the Broncos and Chiefs have offenses that can keep up with any team in the league.

What Davante Adams brings to the table for the Raiders

Davante Adams
Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers scores a touchdown against Ugo Amadi #28 of the Seattle Seahawks | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Adams is considered the best pure wide receiver in football, and he’s earned that reputation over the past few seasons in Green Bay. Of course, he’s had a four-time MVP in Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football, but Adams’ talent is so transcendent that whether it’s Rodgers, Derek Carr, or the waterboy on his lunch break, he’s going to come down with the football more often than not.

Route-running is the name of the game for Adams. He wasn’t always a GOAT receiver, mind you. The Packers drafted him in the second round and he actually had “bust” status written all over him for his first few seasons thanks to a significant case of “the drops.” He worked on his craft and got better year after year, and at some point, he realized his quick feet, attention to detail, and ability to get separation made him nearly uncoverable for opposing defensive backs.

He’s notched over 1,000 yards in three of the last four seasons in Green Bay despite being double and even triple-teamed at times. He’s also had 10-plus touchdown catches in five of his eight NFL seasons. That includes an 18 touchdown season in 2020 in just 14 games. 

Adams is the elite of the elite. He’s the player that opposing defensive coordinators have to game-plan around for weeks in advance. He’s also versatile enough to be moved all over the field, which allows him to get open in unique and creative ways. Whether he’s motioning into the slot or running a “go” on the outside, there’s nothing he can’t do on the football field.

How Adams will open up the Raiders’ offense

Davante Adams and Derek Carr
Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers and Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders chat after the preseason game at Lambeau Field | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

It goes without saying that getting a player of Adams’ ability will transform Las Vegas’ offense. Carr has played with some good wideouts over the years, but none have been at the level that Adams currently resides at

When Vegas needs a big first down, Adams should become a massive safety net for Carr. He’s also sneakily incredible in the red zone, where his route-running and ability to get open really shine.

Ultimately, Adams is also going to open up the game for the rest of the talent on offense.

Darren Waller played in just 11 games and secured two touchdowns in 2021, but he’s only a season removed from a 1000-plus yard and nine touchdown campaign in 2020. With defenses now having to focus heavily on Adams, it wouldn’t be surprising if Waller had the best year of his career to date, and that’s saying something.

Hunter Renfrow is also a candidate to improve on his already impressive 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns from 2021. He won’t get the same amount of receptions (103) with Adams taking a bunch away, but the already efficient wideout should be even more dangerous moving forward now that he’ll be able to benefit from coverages going toward Adams and Waller.

Last but not least is, of course, Carr. He’s been a borderline top 10 quarterback since entering the league in 2014. It stands to reason that he’ll find the game that much easier now that he has his college teammate and good friend running routes for him again. Oh, and the two are also neighbors, so expect the chemistry between Adams and Carr to be unreal.

It all adds up to an offense that should be able to run and gun with the rest of the teams in the division. Defensively, the addition of Chandler Jones and a new contract extension for Maxx Crosby should make the Raiders tough to deal with on that side of the ball as well.

The X-factor for Las Vegas?

It’s not Adams, Jones, Carr, or Waller. 

It’s new head coach Josh McDaniels, who needs to prove that he’s no longer the guy who appeared in over his head without the guidance of Bill Belichick and the structure of the New England Patriots.

Everything else is in place for Vegas to compete in the AFC West, and bringing in Adams makes that goal extremely possible. 

Stats courtesy of ESPN and Pro Football Reference. Contract information via Spotrac

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