HENDERSON, Nev. — Davante Adams, acquired by the Raiders in a blockbuster trade on March 18 after eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, has caught at least 100 passes in three of his past four seasons.
Tight end Darren Waller set a Raiders single-season franchise record with 107 receptions in his Pro Bowl season of 2020.
And Pro Bowl slot man Hunter Renfrow caught 103 balls last season, the most by a Raiders wide receiver since Hall of Famer Tim Brown had 104 in 1997.
Indeed, only one other time in NFL history has a team entered a season with three authors of at least one 100-catch season on its roster — the 2010 Baltimore Ravens, who had T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin.
Good for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, then, hence Adams’ advice to opposing secondaries this coming fall. It came after a talk with new Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, with Adams referencing the six-time AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs — who, until last week, boasted explosive pass-catchers in All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce and since-traded wideout Tyreek Hill.
“It’s like, ‘Who are you going to double[-team]?'” Adams — who had 111 catches in 2018, 115 in 2020 and 123 last year, with Aaron Rodgers tossing him the ball — wondered aloud. “‘Are you going to double Tyreek? Well, 200 [yards are] going to Kelce. You going to double Kelce? Then you already know how that’s going to go on Tyreek’s end.’
“I’m a secure wide receiver, so at the end of day, I know what I bring. I told Derek, ‘Don’t feel any pressure to force me [the] ball or nothing. We don’t have to try to please the media, please anybody. Let’s just go out there and do this thing like how we did before.’ I mean, [we] put together a pretty good resume in college together. This ain’t college, but we still got that connection, so [we’re] looking forward to putting it on display.”
In case you missed it — and, really, how could you? — Carr and Adams lit up Mountain West Conference scoreboards and stat sheets back in 2012 and 2013 for Fresno State. Adams caught a combined 233 passes for 3,031 yards and 38 TDs in those two seasons, with Carr passing for a combined 9,187 yards and 87 TDs in that time frame.
Adams’ extension — he signed a five-year, $140 million contract with $65.67 million guaranteed with the Raiders after they gave the Packers their first- and second-round picks in this year’s draft — reset the receiver market and, essentially, forced the Chiefs to move Hill out of the division. Makes the Fresno State reunion a win-win for Las Vegas, no?
Chemistry is key for Carr, and lest you forget, he forged some with Waller with those 107 catches (on 145 targets) for 1,196 yards and nine TDs two years ago.
Last year, with Waller missing five late-season games after injuring his back and a knee in a Thanksgiving Day win at the Dallas Cowboys, Renfrow became more than a novelty act; he evolved into a dangerous security blanket for Carr.
His route running coming off the line of scrimmage was on point, and the thought, especially with McDaniels calling the plays, as he did with the New England Patriots, is that Renfrow will morph into a Wes Welker/Julian Edelman hybrid.
“Hunter? I mean, people are telling me how much I can teach him,” Adams mused, “I’m like, ‘He might be able to teach me a few things, man.’
“Dude, he’s a young player, but he’s definitely seasoned. And everything I’ve heard from all these guys around here has been amazing from Derek, too. So, nothing but good things ahead.”
A pair of dynamic receivers and a tight end with wideout skills and speed?
Yeah, it should be good to be Carr this season.
Then again, while the division is awash in QB talent with Russell Wilson joining the Denver Broncos to take on Carr, the Los Angeles Chargers‘ Justin Herbert and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes — who might have lost Hill but gained JuJu Smith-Schuster — the AFC West’s ever-escalating race for talent amped up across the board.
Edge rusher Chandler Jones joined the Raiders and Pro Bowl defensive MVP Maxx Crosby. Pass-rusher Randy Gregory is teaming up with Bradley Chubb with the Broncos. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack was traded to the Chargers, who also signed prized cornerback J.C. Jackson in free agency, to bookend with Joey Bosa. And the Chiefs still have defensive tackle Chris Jones and defensive end Frank Clark.
Yeah, the AFC West is a beast.
“This is the best division in football right now,” said Adams. “Honestly, it’s loaded. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to. I’m always looking for a challenge. The Chargers added a few more pieces. Obviously, we’re stacked over here, so it’s exciting to see what’s ahead, man. I’m looking forward to it.”
Adams has already caught the attention of Jackson.
“They better be ready for us,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to talk about him. They better be ready for us.”
Trash talk in March. Now that’s a different type of poison.