When the Raiders acquired All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams via trade in March, the transaction caught many by surprise and caused quite a stir leaguewide.
Recently, a quote from Adams raised eyebrows in much the same way. It all started when Adams was asked to compare Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr to his previous signal-caller, future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Though Adams gave a lengthy, insightful answer, a small, juicy portion of his comment made the rounds on social media.
Here’s the tweet from ESPN that took a tiny fraction of Adams’ quote and ran with it. Reporters noted that the quote was taken out of context, perhaps because it seemed that Adams compared Carr to Rodgers too favorably. Rodgers won the NFL MVP award in each of the last two seasons and has four MVP trophies overall.
Davante Adams compared Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr pic.twitter.com/lJnaU1kR8G
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 10, 2022
Yeah, publishing that quote by itself is guaranteed to get a lot of likes on Twitter, that’s for sure. But how well does it represent what Adams actually said?
While I agree that the quote is more accurate and interesting with more context, I believe that this fraction of Adams’ comment represents his answer quite well. I might be in the minority in that regard, so I’ll explain shortly. But first, here’s more of the comment, courtesy of The Athletic’s Tashan Reed, who tweeted the quote in full.
“That’s a tough question. I mean, it’s tough to compare. It’s really apples and oranges there,” Adams said, per Reed and his colleague, Vic Tafur. “You have Aaron, who’s cemented as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. That’s just like comparing me to Jerry Rice. It’d be tough to do because Jerry’s put together what he’s done and it’s undeniable respect for him. And me, I’m still going and there’s still a lot that I got to do to be able to be mentioned with Jerry, I’m aware of that. And I think Derek is also aware of that from a big picture.
“But as far as talent and ability, I mean, it’s really similar if I’m keeping it real.”
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) June 10, 2022
Adams went on: “So a lot of similarities [between Carr and Rodgers] but much different, and I think Derek is in a position to where he’s chasing to be one of the all-time greats like that. Like I said, that’s not a slight on Derek whatsoever. I wouldn’t be here if I was slighting Derek, but I don’t think I’m ready to compare myself to Jerry Rice just yet. We’ll see when it’s all said and done, or after some more time, just to be fair overall. And I think the same is with Derek. We’re both chasing it and still got a lot in front of us.”
So clearly, there was much more context surrounding Adams’ quote, as tweeted by ESPN. But when Adams stopped just short of comparing himself to NFL great Jerry Rice, who is arguably the best football player in NFL history, it solidified, in my opinion, what Adams meant regarding Rodgers and Carr.
It all relates to talent and ability, the phrase he used in his viral, out-of-context comment. On the surface, comparing Adams to Jerry Rice is ridiculous if you take Rice’s entire career into account, just as Adams acknowledged in his full quote.
But does Adams, considered by many the best WR in the NFL for a few years now, have the talent and ability of Rice? That’s arguable. Though the two are similar, in that sense, right?
I say the answer is yes. Talent and ability don’t equal high-level NFL production, Hall of Fame induction, Super Bowl wins, awards, or really anything for that matter. But it’s a vital part of the equation. Just as Adams believes in his own set of skills over the long haul, he believes in Carr’s, even when having to compare him to Rodgers.
I myself agree that Carr’s talent and ability are similar to Rodgers. But as I mentioned, talent and ability only get you so far. Carr looks like Rodgers on some plays, as Adams described in his quote. On other plays, especially when he fumbles or comes up short in the red zone, Carr looks much less like an elite QB.
Carr’s situation with the Raiders, with one regime change after another, has also been a factor when it comes to his on-the-field issues.
Overall, however, it seems to me that Adams believes he and Carr can eventually reach heights that rival Rodgers’ and Rice’s stature. And why not? They both have talent and ability that is reminiscent of the all-time greats, they’ve both accomplished a lot already, and each has a freshly signed contract and a lot of football left to play.
That aspect is more evident thanks to another comment from Adams, given during the same press conference that produced his quote about Carr and Rodgers. He has big plans for his career (Jerry Rice-level plans, it seems), and that was part of the reason he left Green Bay. Per The Athletic, Adams said he consulted Rodgers about how much longer his career will last, as he’s advancing in age and might retire well before Adams is finished playing.
“We talked throughout the whole process,” Adams said. “We had talks about his future and what he thinks his duration in Green Bay or just football in general would look like. That played into my decision as well because, where I’m at in my career … I got aspirations of doing really, really big things and being remembered. It wasn’t really a point in my career that I was willing to sacrifice Aaron not being there after a year or two. So, my decision was to be here and he respected that.”
Adams wants to do “really, really big things” in the NFL and swapped Rodgers for Carr. Apples, oranges, or whatever, Adams definitely believes the two quarterbacks have — to use a synonym for similar — comparable QB skills. Adams has a wealth of knowledge on the subject, mind you, as he and Carr were teammates in college and have stayed in close contact over their pro careers.
So while Adams’ quote had a lot more insightful context, I believe the part taken by ESPN captured most, or perhaps all, of what Adams meant, at least in regards to a Carr and Rodgers comparison.
Let’s get back to Carr though because he’s what the viral tidbit was all about. I’ve been critical of Carr’s play over the years when I believed it was appropriate, or when it was clear to me he needed to play better to solidify his status as the Raiders’ QB. I’ve also been quick to praise his best moments.
But heading into the 2022 campaign, Carr has a new contract and is firmly in place as the Raiders’ signal-caller. He has a new coach and a new scheme, led by Super Bowl-winning play-caller Josh McDaniels, and Carr could realistically improve from his unofficial status as a top-12 QB.
In fact, it would take a mere incremental improvement from Carr for his consensus QB ranking to rise dramatically, mostly by improving in the red zone and limiting turnovers. His new coach and No. 1 WR boost his chances of doing so.
Adams and Carr have the talent and ability to take the Raiders to new heights — Rodgers and Rice, Super Bowl-type heights — and that’s what Adams apparently believes they’ll do. Furthermore, that’s what many have predicted they’ll do.
They have a lot of work ahead of them, and they won’t be the only two players on the field for the Raiders, of course. That’s where aspirations are sometimes thwarted by reality. But as long as the Raiders’ offensive line can block, expectations for Las Vegas are sky-high, both inside and outside of its Henderson headquarters.
So I’m not surprised Adams said Carr has talent and ability that’s similar to the reigning MVP. Perhaps Carr can even earn an MVP award of his own, as the entire Las Vegas roster looks to do really, really big things together in the years to come.