David Dermer/Associated Press
It’s been a good week for sports fans, with Major League Baseball taking center stage as its abbreviated season gets underway. But even before training camp begins, the NFL has once again stolen the spotlight—at least in Seattle and New York.
The cause was a rare event in professional football—for a couple of reasons. The first is that trades as big as the one that sent All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to the Pacific Northwest don’t come along often.
The second is that it’s all the more unusual to see a deal make this much sense for both sides.
As ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported Saturday, the Jets and Seahawks agreed to a blockbuster deal. In return for Adams and a fourth-round pick in 2022, the Seahawks surrendered their first-round picks in both 2021 and 2022, a third-rounder in 2021 and veteran safety Bradley McDougald.
Shortly after the trade was announced, Adams said goodbye to Jets fans on Twitter:
Jamal Adams @Prez
To NY & especially the Jets fans:
I love you & will always love you. You all will hold a special place in my heart forever. When I came into the league, you embraced me & watched me grow! We went through it all together. Thank you for the Luv & support these 3 years.
#Prez Out. https://t.co/1jkSMJKQNH
For Adams and the Jets, it’s a culmination of a long, bitter saga that has been going on for months. It’s no secret Adams is searching for a contract extension that will not only make him one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL, but also one of the highest-paid defensive players overall. It was also no secret that the Jets had been rumored to have been shopping Adams, dating back to last season.
Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, when Jets general manager Joe Douglas finally agreed it was time for team and player to part ways, Adams was relieved.
“It’s definitely mixed feelings. But at the end of the day, my happiness is more important. I know my worth. I’m going to stand on my beliefs. I’m going to stand on who I am as a person. And I’m not ever going to change who I am for somebody who’s judging me. Either you accept me for who I am and you work with me and support me or you don’t. It’s okay if you don’t.”
To say that the situation had deteriorated to the point of acrimony is an understatement. Adams didn’t hold back his feelings about the organization, whether it was in regard to head coach Adam Gase or team owner Woody Johnson. The Jets obviously weren’t going to hand him an extension averaging $20-plus million per season.
Something had to give.
Seth Wenig/Associated Press
For the Jets to land the considerable haul they received from Seattle is a best-case scenario in just about every sense of the term. Yes, those two first-round picks will more likely than not come outside the top 20. But there are a pair of them. And a Day 2 pick next year. And a capable veteran stopgap safety in McDougald, who (once up to speed on the team’s scheme) won’t leave the Jets in a lurch on the back end if rookie Ashtyn Davis isn’t ready for a big role early.
It was a lot for the Seahawks to give up. But it’s easy to make the argument it was worth every bit of it—because Seattle approaches the 2020 season from a much different perspective.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider isn’t trying to build a winner. He’s trying to keep one together. Seattle headed into Week 17 last year with a chance to capture the NFC West, but a loss to the San Francisco 49ers relegated the Seahawks to wild-card status.
They did knock off the Eagles in Philly, but after they got handled by the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, while the Niners advanced to the Super Bowl, it appeared that we could be witnessing a power shift in the division—largely because San Francisco’s defense was far superior.
The days of the Legion of Boom are long gone. Seattle was a moribund 22nd in the NFL in total defense, a miserable 27th in pass defense and tied for last in the NFC with 28 sacks.
No one was afraid of that defense. Outside star linebacker Bobby Wagner and maybe edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney (who remains unsigned), there wasn’t a difference-maker. A tone-setter. An impact player.
Adams is all those things.
Last year with the Jets, Adams posted 75 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception on the way to his first All-Pro nod. The year before, Adams tallied 115 total stops, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a pick. He was named to the Pro Bowl both years, and as ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted, Adams finds himself in some rarefied air regarding the first three seasons of his NFL career:
Field Yates @FieldYates
New Seahawk S Jamal Adams:
▫️2x All Pro, 2x Pro Bowler
▫️24 years old
▫️Currently under contract through 2021 for $10.7M total
▫️Game-changing, play-wrecking S
▫️He and JJ Watt are the only players in NFL history with 200+ tackles, 10+ sacks & 25+ PBU within their first 3 seasons
Adams hasn’t just been a thumper, either. The interceptions haven’t been there, but in each of the past two years, he has allowed right around 55 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed, with a passer rating against of about 75, per Pro Football Reference. He has also piled up 19 passes defensed over that span.
At the risk of committing LOBlasphemy, he’s a hybrid of the great Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor—combining Thomas’ athleticism and coverage acumen and Chancellor’s punishing physicality.
That’s not to say he’s as good as Thomas, but his 6.5 sacks in 2019 would have led the Seahawks—by 2.5.
That’s an actual stat.
Adam Hunger/Associated Press
Now, the good feelings in the Emerald City might only last so long. Adams is out of New York and with a contender—and landed with one of the teams on his trade “wish list.” But one wish remains unfulfilled—that $20 million-per-season deal.
But that’s a problem for another day. For now, a Seahawks team in full-on win-now mode has added arguably the NFL’s best safety to a defense that desperately needed pop. On the flip side of that coin, the Jets extricated themselves from what had become an increasingly nasty situation—the sort of distraction that a young team most assuredly does not need.
They also got the sort of haul that could accelerate their return to contention in the AFC East. That wasn’t coming in 2020, but that extra first could be a huge boost in 2021.
Trades this big in the NFL don’t come every day. Trades this big that work so well for both teams are even less common.
This one checks both boxes.
Well, it has been a weird year.