Adams was a four-year starter at Texas Southern where he was twice tabbed All-conference in 1968 and 1970. He played in the College Football All-Star game in Chicago prior to his rookie season in the NFL.
Adams was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1971 NFL Draft. He started as a rookie and was chosen to the UPI All-Rookie team in 1971. He was Patriots' leading sacker with 7½ in 1974 and was named as one of the NFL's top defensive linemen by Pro QB Magazine. The following year he missed five games due to a foot injury. Adams was the team's top tackler at 47 among the defensive linemen in 1976, and also had six sacks and 12 QB pressures. He started 14 games in 1977 and had 9½ sacks, including a career-high 4½ against the Falcons (12-4-77) in front of his hometown fans. That season he ended with 43 tackles.
After missing all but the season opener of the 1978 season with a shoulder injury, he returned in 1979 to play all 16 games. His six QB sacks played a vital part in the Patriots' NFL leading total of 57 QB sacks. He also had 49 tackles, 13 QB pressures and a fumble recovery. In 1980, he made his first and only Pro Bowl appearance and earned that honor with 59 tackles and led the team with 9 sacks and finished second on the team in 1980 with 13 QB pressures. In 1981 he was eighth on the team in tackles with 54 stops and 30 assists and his outstanding play and leadership enabled him to win the Jim Lee Hunt Memorial Award, given to the most outstanding Patriot lineman. In 1982, he finished second among Patriots' defensive linemen on the tackle chart with 45 and he also made one of the biggest plays of his career that season when be blocked a Uwe von SchamannFG attempt in the Patriots 3-0 win over Miami (12-12-82).
Adams was again the top tackler among Patriots' defensive linemen in 1983 with a total of 83 tackles and he also finished second on the team in QB sacks with eight and third with seven QB pressures. In 1984 he made 34 tackles and four sacks, seven QB pressures and one pass deflection in playing. He also blocked extra-point kick late in first half vs. Miami on in October 1984. He started one game in '84, the final game vs. Indianapolis (12-16-84) and in that game, came up with a blocked field oal on a 42-yarder with five minutes left in a game the Patriots led at the time, 13- 10 (went on to win, 16-10). He was given a game ball for his effort.
Adams played in 1985 on the Super Bowl team and then retired. He came back in 1987 for one final year.