There is no question Jamal Adams is one of the Jets’ most valuable players, and maybe even their best player, albeit on a bad team. So, the idea of trading away a 24-year-old player with two straight Pro Bowl trips and an All-Pro designation isn’t something you consider lightly.
But if the right offer comes along, then it’s something the Jets will absolutely have to consider. And make no mistake, it must be the right offer, a deal that includes at least one first-round pick and perhaps even two – or at least another high-round pick and potential player compensation. In other words, a blockbuster deal.
Adams is too good to simply give away, even if he has now requested a trade as a way to either force the Jets to renegotiate his contract or send him somewhere else where he can get a deal he believes is commensurate with his talent. But if I’m general manager Joe Douglas, then I’m all ears. If a team is ready to pony up that kind of draft capital for a player who has made it clear he won’t be content until he’s paid or traded, then Douglas must do right by the franchise and be ready to move if the right offer comes along.
Look, there’s no question Adams is a terrific player who can be a difference maker, as evidenced by his 273 tackles, 12 sacks, six forced fumbles and 25 passes defensed. Those are excellent numbers by any measure. But he has just two interceptions in three years, which is certainly noteworthy for a safety and makes you wonder whether Adams is a better box safety who performs well near the line of scrimmage as opposed to a rangy free safety who can dominate in the deep passing game.
How will the Jets-Jamal Adams situation eventually be resolved?
It’s an important distinction, because NFL teams covet defensive backs who can play well in deep coverage, not just nearer to the point of attack. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams does a fine job scheming up Adams in his blitz packages, and Adams’ instinctiveness as a pass rusher is excellent. But if you’re going to invest upwards of $20 million a year in a player, then you’d better be convinced he’s as good an all-around performer as he needs to be.
I’d certainly rather have Adams on my team than most players, so there’s no doubt that Douglas should do what he can to keep Adams longer term. But the contract situation simply won’t go away, even though the Jets have leverage over Adams’ whereabouts over the next three seasons. The Jets control his rights for that long, but there’s no chance Adams will remain here unless they re-do the rookie deal he signed in 2017.
Douglas was extremely cautious in his free agent signings in the offseason, especially along the offensive line, and the days of free-spending GM Mike Maccagnan are over after he gave big deals in 2019 to running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley. Douglas also has to keep in mind that Sam Darnold, the only truly untouchable player on the roster, will be in line for a contract extension in the not-too-distant future. And with a potential reduction in next year’s salary cap due to lower expected revenues because of the impact of the coronavirus on the coming season, there is even more pressure on Douglas to hold the financial line while he can.
He’s therefore in no rush to tear up Adams’ deal, even if Adams is trying to force the issue with his not-so-infrequent moments of frustration over his contract.
Adams reportedly has a list of teams where he’d be willing to accept a trade, including the Ravens, Cowboys, Seahawks and defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. But those teams don’t have high first-round picks to surrender, so their attractiveness as trade partners may not be what Douglas seeks.
The second-year GM is wisely remaining patient – and quiet – as Adams publicly stews. On the few occasions Douglas has spoken about Adams, he has done so in glowing terms, even suggesting at the Scouting Combine in February that he’d like to see Adams be “a Jet for life.”
But the only way that happens is if he meets Adams’ financial demands. Douglas has since been more circumspect about how much he’s willing to spend, suggesting he’d have to at least listen to trade offers if it’s in the best interests of the franchise.
While there may be nothing imminent, Adams’ insistence on getting a new deal might eventually convince Douglas that it may be time to move on.
But only at the right price. And only if the payoff for the Jets is worth it.
For now, time is on the Jets’ side.
But if I’m Douglas, I keep listening. If the offer is right, then it’s time to make a move.