Jamal Adams trade grade: Seahawks win the deal as Jets earn average marks despite first-round picks


Jamal Adams wanted out of his New York Jets uniform and he got his wish. The growing angst between Adams and the organization reached fever pitch this week when the All-Pro safety gashed both general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Adam Gase in comments questioning their leadership, which came not long after aiming a pointed social media jab at owner Woody Johnson — following allegations Johnson made racist and sexist comments in his role as a U.S. ambassador. The Jets had seemingly had enough of Adams, when also combined with his very public courting of the Dallas Cowboys and other teams, and opted to ship him to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a massive haul.

In agreeing to send their best player to the Pacific Northwest, along with a 2022 fourth-round pick, the Jets land a first- and third-round pick in 2021, a first-round pick in 2022 and safety Bradley McDougald — in the latest blockbuster trade to rock the NFL to its core. There were several teams in on Adams, including the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens, and he himself noted a willingness to reunite with his former coach, Todd Bowles, in Tampa while also consistently attempting to woo the aforementioned Cowboys into throwing the kitchen sink at a possible trade to land him.

In the end, it was the Seahawks who did, and Douglas happily accepted as he waves goodbye to the most talented, but also most disgruntled, player on his roster. 

But who won the deal? 

Seahawks: B+

They were in on Adams from the moment they heard he wanted to be traded, having to fight off the likes of the rival Rams to get their guy. It took them mortgaging their draft future to do so, but they now inherit control of Adams through the 2021 season, and it’s a foregone conclusion they’ll attempt to sign him to a longterm extension — looking at him to step in and become the successor to Kam Chancellor (and to a degree, Earl Thomas). When you look at it from that standpoint, it’s easily a win for general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, who won’t need to bother using a premium pick in 2021 in the hopes of maybe finding a guy like Adams. 

That, now, is the Jets’ problem. 

Having often enjoyed the prowess of future Hall of Fame safeties in recent years, the safety unit in Seattle hasn’t been the same since the dismantling of the famed Legion of Boom. Adams provides an instant injection of high-powered play and locker room fire to a team already on the verge of returning to a Super Bowl, and he’s expected to hit the ground running in much the same way Jalen Ramsey was asked to do when the Rams struck a blockbuster deal to get him away from the Jacksonville Jaguars. As it stands though, and this is where the Seahawks have to be careful, there’s no guarantee Adams will sign an extension anytime soon. Granted, he’s seeking big money that will make him the highest-paid safety in NFL history — which would’ve kept him in New York if that wish came true — but it’s a conversation to be had, and not a lock to happen.

It’s safe for the Seahawks to at least expect it though, because they wouldn’t have given away the farm in a deal wherein they didn’t also have some sort of gentleman’s agreement with Adams and his representation. That said, Ramsey did the same with the Rams, and there’s still no deal struck between those two parties as 2020 training camp approaches. All told, while likely not anything to worry about it’s still something to consider, which means the Seahawks should probably go ahead and pull the trigger on a new deal before Adams potentially improves on his already stellar skill set.

This all looks great for Seattle, at face value, so why didn’t the Seahawks land an “A” here? It’s because for as much as Adams is worth, it’s difficult to justify giving up two first-round picks and a third-rounder for a player that isn’t either a franchise quarterback or a top-three talent at a skill position. This isn’t to devalue the importance of the position, and certainly not to shrink Adams’ abilities, but it is to be realistic in admitting the Seahawks paid a QB trade price for a safety. 

But if they like it, fine, although I’m left to wonder if they could’ve talked the Jets down because it doesn’t appear they tried.

Pros: Generational talent acquired at position of need + contract controlCons: Purchase price

Jets: B-

Time will tell if this is the right move for the Jets, but the reality is they just took a massive step in the wrong direction as it pertains to fielding the most competitive team they could in 2020. Landing McDougald is a Band-Aid of sorts, but not much more when comparing his talent and production to that of Adams. McDougald, 29, is not only older than Adams, but is also an NFL journeyman who’s spent time with three teams since being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. To be fair though, he played well for the Seahawks over the last two seasons — delivering five interceptions, 15 pass deflections, four forced fumbles two fumble recoveries and 148 combined tackles. 

So while the Jets are downgrading from Adams, which is a demerit that drags down their grade here, McDougald will cost only $3.6 million in base salary heading into a contract year that makes him a solid stopgap measure ahead of the 2021 draft. 

It’s what the Jets do when they get to next year’s draft that will determine if shipping out a diamond like Adams was worth it, especially considering the new collective bargaining agreement would mostly prevent him from holding out in the future, and the fact they controlled his rights for the next two years by virtue of exercising his fifth-year option. Additionally, they know what they had in Adams but have no clue what they’ll get from their draft picks, considering even the most prolific collegiate talent at the position doesn’t always pan out, let alone to the degree they land two Pro Bowl nods in their first three NFL seasons. 

A step down from Adams drags the grade down, along with having to eat $3.5 million in dead money to do so. 

But landing a solid bridge player and at least two first-round shots at replacing him seemingly balances it all out, assuming McDougald and the Jets don’t have a poor season defensively, costing them a chance at an AFC East crown no longer held by Tom Brady. Oh, and one more thing anchors this grade, and that’s the fact a longterm deal early in the offseason would’ve kept the Jets whole for 2020, and their defensive heartbeat secured for the next half-decade or more. You can bet star players like linebacker C.J. Mosley — who said the team would be “crazy” to trade Adams — are side-eyeing Douglas and Gase ahead of training camp. All in all, while you can rightfully applaud what they got in return, this isn’t exactly the best way to start the coming season in New York, and especially as you try to surround your young quarterback with winning pieces.

Kudos to Douglas for making a team cough up what the Seahawks did though, knowing he had all the leverage. 

Pros: Stout haul of draft picks + solid stopgap playerCons: Instant downgrade to 2020 defense + unproven talent in draft



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