Neither Davante Adams or Aaron Rodgers will suit up for the Green Bay Packers next season, but their time together still defines them both as players.
But much like a teenager striking out on their own or someone fresh out of a long-term relationship, Adams is seeking definition beyond the Hall-of-Fame quarterback who helped him become the NFL’s most dangerous wide receiver. Adams earned All-Pro honors for the third consecutive year in 2022, though it was the first time he did so without Rodgers throwing him the football. The wideout explained why that accomplishment is paramount to his professional identity in a report from Mirin Fader of The Ringer on Tuesday, May 16.
“That’s why [last] season meant a lot,” Adams said. “Even if I went and played like dog s*** next year, they can’t say it. Because now I’ve already proved it throughout the course of a season, played every game, and put together a résumé that says I do not need [Rodgers].”
“You can erase all the numbers,” Adams continued. “You can just write in: ‘He didn’t need Aaron Rodgers.'”
Davante Adams Felt Swallowed by Aaron Rodgers’ Shadow in Green Bay
Adams’ comments offer more insight into why he pushed so hard to break away from an organization and quarterback that had, more or less, guaranteed winning at a high level every season.
Former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, a three-time Pro Bowler in his own right, was on the throwing end of most of Adams’ receptions last season, though Jarrett Stidham assumed those duties near the end of the campaign. Carr and Adams share a close friendship that stretches back to their college days at Fresno State, which was presumed as the driving force behind Adams’ trade demand and the Raiders as his destination of choice. There was also the fact that Green Bay applied the franchise tag to Adams following two All-Pro seasons and the wide receiver wanted a much bigger and longer-term deal, which he received in the form of a five-year, $141.25 million contract from Las Vegas.
But after his comments to The Ringer, it is clear that Adams’ motivations were farther-reaching that just money or friendship. Running the risk of reductivism, they can be summed up as ego, though an ego that is understandable and not unearned in any way.
“If I wouldn’t have gotten first-team All-Pro, this is the first year where I would’ve actually cared,” Adams told Fader. “When I got it, I was like, ‘All right, I’ll never care about another one.'”
“It proved that I am me,” Adams continued. “I make me. And I can do it consistently at this level.”
Adams explained that it was difficult to live and work in the long shadow cast by a four-time MVP and living legend still playing the most important position in all of sports. And after a slow start to his career, Adams always felt that the direct and implied narratives were that Rodgers made him the receiver he became.
“Now people can’t say that,” Adams said. “That’ll never be the narrative ever again.”
Packers’ David Bakhtiari Ribs Davante Adams After Comments on Aaron Rodgers
Adams made sure to reiterate to Fader that he still has respect for Rodgers.
“Aaron’s a hell of a quarterback,” he said.
Still, Adams’ comments were loaded with a depth of emotion, not all of which was positive toward Rodgers, as well as significant psychological strife. True to form, Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari took to Twitter Tuesday after reading the article and brought some levity to a somewhat tense situation.
“You didn’t have to leave me to prove this @tae15adams. I believed you,” Bakhtiari wrote. “But glad you silenced any doubt your way.”
Rodgers, who is a close friend of Bakhtiari’s off the field, also left the lineman for a slightly different shade of green with the New York Jets. Adams and Bakhtiari will take the field as competitors on October 9 in Las Vegas, while Adams and Rodgers will square off on November 12 in the desert. The Packers and Jets do not play each other during the 2023 regular season.