My advice to Joe Douglas was simple: Even with Jamal Adams regularly complaining about wanting a new contract and demanding a trade if the Jets weren’t willing to pay up, the only way you trade him is if you get an offer that’s simply too good to pass up.
Giving in to a player’s demands can be a dangerous game, especially in a sport that requires team chemistry. The fact that the Jets controlled Adams’ contractual rights for three more years made it even more important that Douglas not fold if a trade didn’t make sense. Which is what I’ve suggested in previous columns.
But Saturday, the Seahawks made it impossible for Douglas to say no. Faced with the possibility of keeping a player who’d be a major distraction if he didn’t get his money, the Jets’ second-year general manger signed off on a trade he couldn't ignore.
The Jets dealt the sixth overall pick of the 2017 draft in exchange for Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald and first-round picks in both 2021 and 2022, as well as a third-round pick in 2021. The Jets also gave up a fourth-round pick to Seattle in 2022.
Look, NFL teams shouldn’t be in the business of giving up on their best players, and Adams is the best player on a young and rebuilding team. But given Adams’ repeated criticism of the organization and head coach Adam Gase, it was simply an untenable situation. Adams had alienated Jets fans who had come to adore his hyper-aggressive style of play, a relentlessness that you can’t teach a football player. Against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic, Adams’ constant complaints were not well received in the court of public opinion. His searing criticism of Gase in Friday’s Daily News, where he said Gase “wasn’t the right leader for this organization to reach the Promised Land,” was the latest in a series of barbs delivered at the Jets.
But unless and until another team came forward with an offer that measured up to Adams’ value as a player, Douglas needed to remain firm in not looking for a deal just to get rid of the headache. It had to be on Douglas’ terms, and it had to make sense from a team-building standpoint – both now and into the future.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider, one of the best personnel executives in the game, sensed an opportunity to add a player to a team with reasonable Super Bowl hopes, and Adams will certainly be an integral part of Seattle’s Legion of Boom 2.0.
While Seattle can look at Adams as a potential final piece for a title run, the Jets remain a team in transition and won’t see the benefits of the Adams trade for a number of years – not until we know if Douglas chose wisely with the picks he acquired. But the GM does get rid of a potential headache in Adams, whose influence in the locker room could have had a negative impact had he remained. Adams is well respected among his teammates, although some of them have chafed under his leadership because he tends to be caustic in his remarks and is perceived by some as arrogant.
On the field, Adams’ absence will no doubt be an issue, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will be hard-pressed to replace the safety’s aggressiveness and versatility. Adams is a terrific tackler and can be used effectively on blitzes. But there is one element of his game that made you at least question just how dominant he could be. The very best safeties in the NFL are the ones whose ball-hawking skills can change the course of games. No one was around the ball like former Ravens star Ed Reed, who had 64 career interceptions. Ronnie Lott had 63 interceptions in his Hall of Fame career.
Adams has just two picks over three seasons, something that at least gives you pause about how great an all-around player he can be. Maybe that total will increase substantially in Pete Carroll’s defense. Or maybe Adams isn’t on a level with the all-time greats and is best suited as a box safety who can be almost a hybrid linebacker. Whatever the case, it’s something to keep an eye on as his career continues to unfold.
Adams once envisioned that career to last with the Jets for its entirety, and Adams often talked about carrying on the legacy of his father, former Giants running back George Adams, whose career was cut short by injury. But time and circumstance – and money – have changed those plans, and now it's over.
Time for Adams to move on.
Time for the Jets to move on, too, but only after Douglas got the deal he needed.