Jamal Adams trade, revisited: Why Seahawks made expensive deal for disgruntled ex-Jets star

It might not be Dallas, but Seattle is home for Jamal Adams.

Adams is one of the NFL’s premier safeties, and eyes were raised when the Seahawks acquired him for a very, very high pricetag prior to the start of the 2020 season; previously, he wanted to be shipped to his hometown of Dallas and play for the Cowboys, but that didn’t come to be.

So far, it’s been largely a mixed bag for Adams and the Seahawks: While he blew up for 9 1/2 sacks in 2020, that’s not exactly the type of production you’re looking for from a defensive back, and a safety who you sent two first-round picks for, at that.

Still, the marriage between Adams and the Seahawks hit its one-year anniversary over the summer.

Here’s how the two sides got together:

Jamal Adams trade, revisited

The Adams saga with the Jets started somewhere during the 2019 season: Adams, in his third year with the Jets, was reportedly discussed in trade talks prior to the 2019 trade deadline. He also reportedly publicly lobbied to be traded to the Cowboys, his hometown team. At the time, the Jets and GM Joe Douglas were not shopping Adams, but listening to calls on his services.

Adams took that the wrong way.

“When I found out I was being shopped, when I found out I was on the verge of being traded, that was one of the teams I told [ESPN analyst Ryan Clark] I’d love to go to — the Dallas Cowboys,” Adams said in 2019.

Following the 2019 season and entering his fourth year in the league, Adams was eligible for a contract extension, and given his prior production with the team, felt he was in for a big payday. Reports indicated that Adams wanted to be paid roughly $20 million per year — that mark would make him among the NFL’s highest paid defensive players on face value, and the league’s highest paid safety, by far. 

The Jets, entering a full rebuild of their own, seemingly scoffed the idea of paying Adams that much. Adams voiced his displeasure on more than one occasion, with Douglas and the Jets opting to hold their ground and not pay him, instead engaging in trade conversations surrounding him in the 2020 offseason once again.

Then, the bombshell report that essentially destroyed the relationship between the two sides: Speaking with the New York Daily News, Adams, disappointed with his contract situation and standing with the team, ripped head coach Adam Gase and GM Douglas in a very candid interview.

“I don’t feel like he’s the right leader for this organization to reach the Promised Land,” Adams said. “As a leader, what really bothers me is that he doesn’t have a relationship with everybody in the building.”

He continued to rip into the organization, this time setting targets on the GM.

“If they would have just simply said, ‘You know what, Jamal — we’re not going to look to pay you this year, we want to keep adding players — I would have respected that more,” Adams said. “I would say, ‘You know what? I respect it. As a man, I get it. I understand it’s a business.’ But for them to tell me that they’re going to pay me and then not send over a proposal after they said that’s what they were going to, that’s where we go wrong.”

Whether Adams felt disrespected by the organization or the timetable for the Jets to sign the safety didn’t line up with prior promises, the story was a breaking point between the two sides. Just days later, the Seahawks traded for the disgruntled Jets safety.

NFL analysts posited that the price, though, was fairly rich, especially for a safety who didn’t cause turnovers: the Seahawks sent a 2021 first-round pick, a 2021 third-round pick, a 2022 first-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald to the Jets for Adams and a fourth-round pick. Eyebrows were raised: Adams, while a very good pass rusher as a defensive back, long faced critiques for his lack of strong coverage ability ont he back end.

While PFF measured Adams’ coverage grade as well above average in both 2018 and 2019 (89.6 and 87.5, respectively), his arrival in Seattle was less kind. In Pete Carroll’s safetyr-reliant defensive scheme, Adams notched a 52.5 coverage grade, the worst of his career. Adams did deal with injuries in 2020, but that number was still the worst mark of his four-year spell in the league.

It wasn’t all bad, though: Adams notched 9 1/2 sacks as a DB, setting the NFL record for a defensive back. 

Adams had to wait a year to get the money he was looking for, too, and even off a down year overall, he cashed in: Adams received a four-year, $70 million contract in 2021, with $38 million guaranteed. That deal puts him at $17.5 million per year, under the $20 million he was looking at, but still putting him among the game’s highest-paid.

Now, Adams looks to continue to help a Seattle defense that’s been less-than good in 2021. If he can lift them up, that would be fairly presidential.

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