Jamal Adams wants to be traded to the Dallas Cowboys. That tidbit is neither new nor considered breaking news, considering he said it in October after he discovered the New York Jets were taking calls from Jerry Jones and Co. to facilitate a potential trade. It never went through, however, due in large part to an astronomical ask from general manager Joe Douglas and the Cowboys unwillingness to pay the price, but the damage had already been done in Adams’ eyes. The All-Pro safety made his feelings about it known at the time, and didn’t bite his tongue when doing so.
“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 told media in 2019.
Douglas and the Jets were attempting to keep any trade discussions under wraps as they continued to publicly profess Adams’ future value to the team, but they couldn’t shield the veteran safety from leaks that found their way to Adams by way of North Texas.
“People have to understand I’m born and raised in Dallas,” he noted. “I find out every little thing you can think of. … I find out everything.”
Fast forward to June 2020 and nothing has changed on that front.
The uber-frustrated 24-year-old had long held firm his want of signing a long-term deal with the Jets, but lack of negotiation between the two sides has led to him reportedly demanding a trade. And with that, his longtime eyeing of the Cowboys as a potential landing spot is now again thrust into the limelight, and he’s being no more shy about it now than he was in October when he openly confessed his affections.
In a recent video filmed by a fan, Adams was posited the question of when he’ll land in Dallas, to which he replies, “I’m trying, bro.”
That’s the problem, though: He’s trying … and out loud.
Adams’ wooing of the Cowboys conjures memories of when All-Pro safety Earl Thomas lobbied to join the team in December 2017, with a campaign that dominated the headlines for the following 10 months. Granted, Adams didn’t run into the Dallas locker room and tell the head coach to “come get me” like Thomas did, but his public campaign and social media like-train — i.e., strategically liking particular posts that continually stoke the fires of Adams-to-Dallas headline — is essentially deja vu, because it’s following Thomas’ blueprint to the letter.
In the end, the Seattle Seahawks were so soured on sending Thomas to the Cowboys that they gouged the price and then shrugged off an eventual first-round pick from the Cowboys altogether, fully prepared to instead accept two second-round picks from the Kansas City Chiefs in a deal that was only a day or so away from landing, had Thomas not broken his leg before it could.
I’ll repeat this for increased digestion: The Seahawks were so perturbed and unwilling to send Thomas where he wanted to go, namely to the Cowboys, and in exchange for a first-round pick, that they were going to accept a a couple of riskier second-rounders from the Chiefs instead; even knowing the more potent Chiefs would likely be sitting at the bottom of that round in subsequent seasons. The Cowboys would go on to instead give the pick to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for Amari Cooper, who signed a five-year, $100 million deal in 2020, filling the void at wide receiver after not being permitted to fill the one at safety.
And now let’s circle back to Adams, shall we?
Douglas is already displeased with the Cowboys for what he views as being the leak of the October talks, the likes of which sowed the seeds of discord we all now see between Adams and the Jets. With the safety doubling and tripling down on his love of his hometown team and the Cowboys having already attempted to trade for him once, Douglas knows he can take the John Schneider approach of price gouging Dallas if he so chooses, even if only to keep them fruitlessly dangling on his hook. In the end, Douglas also knows caving to a player’s trade demand looks bad on its face, but looks terrible if it also comes attached to a plane ticket of his choosing.
And then there’s the leverage, of which Adams has zero.
Having executed his fifth-year option, the Jets have control of Adams for the next two seasons and potentially a third, should they choose to franchise tag him in 2022. He’s only set to hit the team’s salary cap for $13.24 million over the next two years, and the franchise tag amount in 2022 won’t be astronomically different from the current one of $11.441 million for a safety. With neither cost nor the threat of a two-year (or longer) holdout being an issue, also knowing Adams wouldn’t accrue time toward free agency under the new collective bargaining agreement if he sat out even one season, there’s nothing prompting the Jets to bend the knee to Adams — much unlike Thomas, who was set to be a free agent only one season after galloping into the Cowboys locker room.
At the time, the Seahawks were trying to gain assets for a player they didn’t want to overpay for, knowing they’d lose him anyway in just over a year’s time. The Jets, however, aren’t so pressed. Quite the opposite, in fact, and that’s why — all things considered — they’ve yet to grant Adams’ agent permission to seek a trade partner.
But wait, there’s more.
In comparing the situation with Adams to Thomas, it’s clear that although the latter was also willing to return home to Texas, his want of becoming the highest-paid safety of all-time was just as translucent. Adams stated several times he wanted to remain in New York, as Thomas did with Seattle, the two mixing their love of the incumbent team and respective fanbase with the leveraging of just how much the Cowboys wanted them; with the ultimate goal being the same. When Thomas became a free agent after more than one failed traded attempt by the Cowboys, some thought he’d accept a discount to land in Dallas, but he instead used the established leverage and his free agency bidding war to parlay his way into a four-year, $55 million contract from the Baltimore Ravens that included $32 million for the then 30-year-old.
And to the aforementioned deja vu, the Ravens are again in the mix for Adams, as they were for Thomas. For while the Cowboys are his most public love interest, they are far from the only. Adams reportedly also has interest in the Ravens, Texans, Seahawks, Chiefs, 49ers and Eagles, having also stated directly he’d love to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well — which would reunite him with his former Jets head coach Todd Bowles.
You see, the more teams Adams can get the attention of, the greater the likelihood of a bidding war. The greater the likelihood of a bidding war, the higher the offer. The higher the offer, the more difficult it would be for Douglas and the Jets to wave off.
Still, they can, and without batting an eye; and it bears mentioning the Cowboys aren’t keen on bending over backwards for a Jets team who asked for six-time All-Pro guard Zack Martin to be included in the trade package, going on to then ask for seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Tyron Smith in a separate package when they were told “no” on Martin. If this was the Jets’ ask before Douglas soured on the relationship with the Cowboys, you can imagine he won’t be any more willing to compromise in 2020 than he was in 2019, and especially after seeing the best player on his team incessantly and very publicly “trying” to force him into caving to his demands — all the while knowing all he has to do is nothing at all.
Because, again, the Jets control him for the next three years if they so choose, and at a great price when compared to his value.
Are the Cowboys still interested? Yes, and they have been since October. They haven’t called again though [yet], and for reasons that include the aforementioned spoiled milk in addition to head coach Mike McCarthy having made offseason moves — ongoing as they might be — to shore up the safety position in a way the Cowboys haven’t done in years, with the goal of avoiding have to mortgage their future to upgrade the position. After all, CeeDee Lamb isn’t in Dallas right now if the Jets agree to send Adams to them last autumn, much like Cooper isn’t if the Seahawks make Thomas’ wish of Dallas come true the year prior, and those are facts not lost on the Joneses as they forward-think all of this.
Their offense is now set up for potential lethality, but it’d look different if they got their Thomas or Adams wish before now.
All told, the Cowboys are just fine going with what they currently have on the roster, and especially knowing there’s a great likelihood an unhappy Douglas will ask for a king’s ransom and the first born of every villager in return for Adams, even if the unreasonable ask is solely attached to the Cowboys. So while Adams is “trying” desperately to land in Dallas (although he’s more so trying to land his historic payday from someone, as Thomas was), his PR push to land in Dallas is working against him (just as Thomas’ did).
To be fair though, nothing is impossible.
There’s still a [scathingly] slim chance Douglas grants Adams his North Texas wish, but the price will likely turn the Cowboys’ stomach even more than it did eight months ago, when things were quieter and discussions were more private and amicable. Given Douglas’ mood about it all and his ironclad leverage, though, don’t go betting on it.
Additionally, sources also tell CBS Sports rumors of Dallas being willing to package wide receiver Michael Gallup in a trade to New York are “false” and simply not a thing, the Cowboys having seen him break out in 2019 and knowing they have him under contract for two more years. A separate source truly drove the point home in noting “they’re trying to give Dak Prescott more weapons, not take them away.”
For Adams, the encumbrance is having repeatedly made the mistake of showing his cards as it relates to Dallas, even if only out of initial frustration. In this latest game of Texas Hold’ Em, he can try to raise the stakes all he likes, be it through interviews and/or viral vids and/or social media likes and/or buying a new dog to name it “Jerry” — should it oddly come to the latter — but Douglas is quietly smirking, knowing he’s holding a royal flush while Adams tries to bluff him with a two and a seven. And in the end, if the Jets decide to pay him what he wants, don’t count out his mood changing again; because money talks, and that’s what this is truly all about anyway.
Just as it was with Earl Thomas in the original movie.