The last time the Oakland Raiders had an up-close look at defensive tackle Sam Adams, he and his record-setting Baltimore Ravens teammates were using the Raiders offense like a dust rag in a 16-3 win over Oakland in the 2001 AFC Title Game.
"That's because I was a Baltimore Raven and it was my job," said Adams, whom Oakland signed to a six-year deal Sunday night. "Now, my job is to put a hurting on anyone who's playing the Oakland Raiders."
Since the middle of last season, other teams have been hurting Oakland with their ground game. Oakland signed Adams, whom Baltimore released as part of a salary-cap purge, to a six-year contract Sunday evening that will in effect be a one-year deal because of huge salaries in the final five years of the contract. The Raiders lost starting defensive tackle Grady Jackson, who signed with New Orleans, as a free agent.
The Raiders' offer surpassed the $1.5 million first-year payouts being offered by the Seahawks, Adams' former team, and Broncos. The Ravens, who beat the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, had been talking about a $2.5 million signing bonus on a multi-year deal. Cincinnati had been willing to pay a $3 million signing bonus on a four-year deal that didn't interest Adams. He joins safety Rod Woodson as another ex-Raven turned Raider.
"He's real stout on the inside," Woodson said. "You want a guy who can come in and stop the opposing team's ground game. That way you put them in second-and-long."
Oakland had been courting Adams since the beginning of the free agency period but their pursuit subsided until last weekend. Adams was coaching the Eastside Hawks, a semi-pro team in Seattle that he owned. The Hawks are currently vying for a spot in the national championship in December in Sarasota, Florida.
"It feels just right," Adams said. "It's exactly where I needed to be. They welcomed me in and it felt great. It's a great organization. It's one of the best if not the best. I'm glad they gave me the opportunity."
Adams, a two-time Pro Bowler who recorded a career-high seven sacks in 1997, had been training on his own to prepare for another team signing him but spent most of Monday morning's practice conditioning. Raiders' head coach Bill Callahan said Adams would likely not suit up for Saturday night's exhibition game against San Francisco but might play in the exhibition finale against Arizona August 29.
Callahan added that Adams is not yet a starter over Rod Coleman. The likely scenario would have Adams and fellow free agent signee John Parrella paired as starting defensive tackles with Coleman providing a three-man rotation at tackle. The Oakland coaching staff's familiarity with Adams dates back to the 2001 Pro Bowl.
"Early in the game, he talked to me after every series about what we could do," Raiders defensive line coach Mike Wauffle said. "He's really smart. He has a very detailed knowledge of the game."
Oakland hopes that Adams' addition has a similar effect that he and Tony Siragusa had in Baltimore – two wide-load bodies that can occupy blockers in order to free up the rest of the defense. Raiders left guard Frank Middleton no longer has to worry about blocking Parrella or Adams.
"Parrella is as strong as about three or four guys," Middleton said. "Adams is as big as three or four guys. You got the offense outnumbered by five or six players."