Jamal Adams: Seahawks living in the present, Jets looking to the future.
On July 25th, Connor Hughes of The Athletic broke the trade of the Jets trading their star safety, Jamal Adams to the Seahawks. Adam Schefter followed up by disclosing the compensation of the trade:
The Seahawks get:
-A 4th-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft
The Jets get:
-Bradley McDougald (Starting safety for the Seahawks in 2019)
-1st-round picks in 2021 and 2022
-A 3rd-round pick in 2021
While trades like these always seem to prompt people to declare a winner and a loser of said trade, there’s actually quite a lot of layers to unpack here that make it more complex than a simple binary.
1. Jamal Adams is a DAMN good player.
Let’s get one thing very clear, Jamal Adams is a phenomenal player. As a Bills fan I would personally get extremely frustrated that someone as good as him was being wasted on a team as below average as the Jets. He’s an elite player in the box, not only against the run, but also as a blitzer, accumulating 6.5 sacks in 2019. Most safeties don’t get 1 or 2 sacks, much less 6.5 of them. More than that though, Adams can cover; it isn’t his greatest strength, but he is certainly not deficient in that ability either. If that wasn’t enough, Adams is a very vocal, energetic leader, exactly the type of person Pete Carroll craves in his locker room, it’s a great fit for both sides there. Speaking of great fits…
2. Adams and Seattle’s Cover 3.
Most people who are more familiar with the NFL these days know that Seattle began a trend of a specific style of a classic Cover 3 defense. This style has been copied to other teams such as the Jaguars, Falcons, Chargers, 49ers, and Cowboys (before the departure of Kris Richard). Not every team was successful in their replication however, in fact for the last few years, many Seahawks analysts would say that the team itself hasn’t been able to create that same success. But Adams can change that. Adams with the rest of the Seattle secondary opens many doors. Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown on Twitter), a defensive coordinator for the UK based Ouse Valley Football Club, quickly broke down how Adams allows the Seahawks to bring back their brand of Cover 3 Buzz, using Adams’s athleticism to disguise their coverages before the snap and then bringing him down to cover underneath. Most safeties don’t have this athletic ability, and even fewer have the athleticism and the sure-fire tackling that Adams brings to the table. Adams has the ability to bring back the punishing style of defense we were used to seeing in Seattle with the Legion of Boom.
3. The Price
Giving up multiple 1st-round picks for any player will always feel like a lot of capital (unless you’re Bill O’Brien and have no conception of value and capital). And that’s because it is cut and dry. In a vacuum, multiple first-round picks for a box safety (even an elite one) is not good business on paper. However, we don’t operate in a vacuum. The fact of the matter is this: the Seahawks have almost never valued their 1st-round picks, and whenever they do use them, it’s often to their detriment.
Here’s a short history of Seattle’s 1st round picks since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over the team:
2010-At pick #6, they selected Offensive Tackle, Russell Okung. They also traded a 2009 2nd round pick to Denver to acquire their 1st round pick in 2010, which was #14 overall, and they picked Free Safety, Earl Thomas with that selection.
2011-At pick #25 they selected Guard, James Carpenter.
2012-Traded pick #12 to the Eagles for pick #15, a 4th-round pick, and a 6th-round pick in 2012. At #15 they selected EDGE, Bruce Irvin.
2013-Traded to Minnesota in Percy Harvin trade, Xavier Rhodes was selected with this pick.
2014-Pick #32 traded to Minnesota in exchange for Minnesota’s 2nd and 4th-round selections in 2014. Teddy Bridgewater was selected with this pick.
2015-Pick #31 traded to New Orleans with starting Center Max Unger for Jimmy Graham and a 4th-round pick in 2015. Stephone Anthony was selected with this pick.
2016-Pick #31 acquired via trade with Denver in exchange for pick #26 and a 3rd-round pick in 2016. The Seahawks picked Offensive Tackle, Germain Ifedi.
2017-Traded back from #26 to #31 with Atlanta for their 3rd and 7th-round picks. Traded #31 to San Francisco for their 2nd and 4th-round picks.
2018-Traded back from #18 with Green Bay, giving them a 7th as well in exchange for their 1st, 3rd and 6th-round picks in 2018. At #27 the Seahawks picked Running Back, Rashaad Penny.
2019-Traded #21 to the Packers in exchange for Pick #30, and two 4th-round selections. Pick #30 was then traded to the New York Giants in exchange for their 2nd, 4th, and 5th-round selections that year. In addition, the Seahawks traded EDGE Frank Clark and a 3rd=round pick to the Chiefs for pick #29, as well as a 3rd round pick in 2019, and a conditional 2020 2nd round pick. At #29 the Seahawks picked EDGE, L.J. Collier.
2020-At pick #27 they selected Linebacker, Jordyn Brooks.
Now, as fans we can point out the fact that a lot of their first-round picks don’t work out, so it’s actually a win for them. But I don’t think that’s how Carroll and Schneider think of themselves as talent evaluators. Rather, it’s simply that Schneider and Carroll don’t value first-round picks as much as a lot of other teams do. So for them, the price isn’t as high to them as it is to the outside (especially when what they’re trading for is a known commodity who fits perfectly within the system they want to run defensively).
While they might not miss their draft picks as much as other teams might, there is another cost which is the reason why Jamal Adams was traded in the first place, and that’s his new contract. Reminder, just two years ago, this was the team that stood stubbornly against giving Earl Thomas a new deal, and is currently playing hard to get with EDGE Jadeveon Clowney. It’s not that the Seahawks are completely averse to giving long term deals to good players, they’ve given extensions to Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, and Tyler Lockett before he really began to breakout as a legitimate playmaker. One would hope that they traded these picks to the Jets with a plan in place for a new contract, or else the discussion of value and capital becomes much different, because then we’d be talking about trading high-value capital for a short term rental, rather than a long term investment, and no matter how you slice that up, that’s bad business.
5. Joe Douglas
Do you know who’s not in the practice of doing bad business thus far in his career?
This man has had an extremely impressive start to his career as the New York Jets GM. He signed plenty of offensive line help for Sam Darnold in Greg Van Roten, Connor McGovern, and George Fant, along with signing a new, experienced Nickel Corner in Brian Poole. During the draft, Douglas was lauded by many (including me) for his selections of behemoth Offensive Tackle, Mekhi Bection, Wide Receiver Denzel Mims, and Safety Asthyn Davis (A selection that I believed signaled the end of Jamal Adams in New York as soon as it was made), as well as snagging Cornerback Bryce Hall late. If you ended it there, it would have been one of the best single off seasons the Jets have had in the last 20 years. But of course, Jamal Adams had been asking for a new contract or trade for nearly a year to this point, and despite all of Adams’s demands and public bemoaning on social media presumably driving his price down, Douglas still managed to get multiple 1st-rounders AND a starting-caliber safety in Bradley McDougald to help replace the loss of Adams.
In fact, let’s take a minute and talk about this new set of safeties for the Jets. It should be noted that while the Jets are losing an amazing player in Adams, their safety position is still very strong. The Jets already have Marcus Maye, who is a solid player in his own right, but they’ve now added Bradley McDougald as part of the trade with Adams and drafted Ashtyn Davis from Cal. McDougald played extremely well for the Seahawks last year, and Ashtyn Davis has a ton of potential to offset the loss of production from Adams. Jets fans will surely miss seeing number 33 on the field, but they’ll be able to move on faster with guys like McDougald and Davis on the field making plays.
So many GMs have bungled situations like this in the past, but Douglas managed to provide a spark of light to end a very tumultuous saga for Jets fans losing a beloved player.
6. Adam Gase and another toxic culture
That spark of light that Joe Douglas is providing to the Jets? It won’t mean anything if Adam Gase is coaching this team beyond 2020. Adam Gase continues his trend of alienating his best players and more importantly, his leaders. The fact is that Jamal Adams is a very good player, and was a leader on this team. It seems that everyone that has played for Adam Gase has a distinct distaste for him. His personality is off putting, he comes off as cold and aloof. Adams has called him out for not being the leader the Jets need. Former players such as Jordan Phillips celebrated the fact that Gase was fired from Miami following the 2018 season, and he wasn’t even on the team anymore. Jarvis Landry, Ju’Wuan James, and Reshad Jones all expressed their issues with Adam Gase during his tenure with the Dolphins. Other players such as Le’Veon Bell, Frank Gore, and Peyton Manning have expressed support for him. But the number of supportive voices are drowned out by a sea of dissenters, and when a player like Adams gets pushed out, it only reinforces the idea that Gase is exactly the type of non-leader that Adams claims him to be. And even if you don’t think there’s credibility to former players being angry at their former head coach, we can also look to how players such as Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, Kenyan Drake, and Devante Parker have all excelled outside of Gase’s influence.
7. Always in motion, is the future….
Draft picks are great… if you hit with them. Yes, the Jets now have a ton of capital in the next few drafts. That’s a great thing in theory, however, we’ve seen teams with lots of draft picks not manage those picks to actually help their roster. The reality is they probably won’t even stay with their current picks. Douglas comes from Howie Roseman’s tree, and Roseman is all about acquiring as many picks as he can to have as many throws at the dartboard as he can get. This is certainly a distinct possibility for Douglas and his staff, however, there may be another possibility. It’s possible that the Jets and Douglas are looking at a future beyond Gase, and Sam Darnold for that matter. Let’s face it, the 2021 draft has some interesting options at QB, with Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance as possibilities. This all may be a moot point with COVID-19 creating complications for the NFL Draft cycle in 2021, which is something that needs to be talked about when we discuss the “winners” and “losers” of this trade.
To conclude, this trade, while seemingly somewhat simple on the surface, actually has quite a lot of layers to it. And a trade this unique required a unique response that goes beyond just a winner and a loser and seeing everything through our own biases. Of course, the reality is also that we won’t be able to get a definitive answer to who won this trade until we see how those Jets picks play out, but for now, we can certainly say something with certainty.
The Seahawks are looking to win right now.
The Jets are looking to win in the future.