Jets: It’s Not the Right Time to Trade Jamal Adams

New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams (33) warms up before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Yesterday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Jets safety Jamal Adams has refused to participate in the team’s voluntary offseason program. He also noted on the GetUp! morning show that this virtually becomes a holdout.

Jamal Adams, a 2017 first-round pick, still has two more years remaining on his rookie deal. That includes a fifth-year option attached to his contract. Adams has become a centerpiece of the Jets secondary since entering the league out of LSU and has proven his place amongst the best free safeties in the NFL. He was selected to the Pro Bowl twice and was a First-team All-Pro last year.

With the 2020 NFL Draft coming up, the questions about his extension bring more problems than opportunities. Should the Jets trade Adams, they’d probably get a good value in return. However, his loss would be next to impossible to cover up in the short term.

Therefore, it’s not the time to have this conversation with Jamal Adams. He’s under contract until the end of the 2021 season and is quite possibly the most reliable part of the whole defensive unit of the New York Jets.

The Defense Without Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams has formed a formidable safety tandem with teammate Marcus Maye. Adams has recorded 12 sacks in three years. Furthermore, he’s been very dominant in pass coverage, keeping his allowed passer rating under 80.0 in both of the last two years in New York.

If Joe Douglas and his staff elect to deal Adams away, they’d likely need to use a draft pick on a safety. As noted in our previous Mock Draft, this should not be a problem in the third round. However, it would be difficult for even a highly-regarded safety prospect to replace his production.

Jamal Adams ranked second on the team in sacks with 6.5 in 2019, behind just Jordan Jenkins. Meanwhile, he has a good value against the passing game. The Jets would need a shutdown season by new cornerback Pierre Desir, as well as to add a good pass-rusher. Even if that happens, the Jets would be back where they began but in a worse situation, having lost their most dominant defensive player.

From a performance-based standpoint, dealing him away makes absolutely no sense. That’s perhaps the reason why the rumors haven’t been incredibly strong, but if contract negotiations keep failing, that could become an even more likely. Nevertheless, a season when the Jets could be competitive for the first time in a while, given the right draft picks, doesn’t happen if Adams isn’t a part of the team. Him being a box safety hurts all components of the defensive game if he leaves.

What’s His Price?

The lone good takeaway of a potential Adams trade would be that the return could be very satisfying. In draft picks, it’s possible to get a first-round pick for Jamal Adams. Pro Football Focus lists him as the game’s best blitzing safeties and among the best at the position in the league. Therefore, it’s not crazy to believe that NFL executives value the 2019 First-team All-Pro as highly as Jets fans do.

A first-round pick could be a crucial tool to even a short-term success. Most importantly, it could help the Jets get both a top tackle and a top wide receiver in the first round. This would, without a doubt, help elevate the offense to a whole new level. But, yet again, that equals subtracting the leader of the defense, without whom the pass-rush would have been even more disappointing last year and the passing defense would be a liability.

Cost-Cutting Measures

One of the targeted effects of trade could also be creating cap space. According to Over The Cap, the Jets have nearly $18 million available to spend. They’ve been said to have reached out to free agents at positions of needs. Those include former Titans corner Logan Ryan and the top edge-rusher on the market Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney’s rumored demand of $16-$18 million per year likely puts him out of the conversation. However, Logan Ryan has been said to want around $10 million, which is affordable with minimal cost cuts.

Ryan was a reliable piece of the Tennessee secondary last year, allowing a passer rating of 88.7, a big improvement as opposed to 2018’s 102.0. He could bring a real upgrade to 1 Jets Drive, but if an Adams trade is what it takes, it’s not worth it. If the Jets’ interest is indeed so serious, a cutting Avery Williamson is more preferable. Jamal Adams is owed about $7 million in 2020 while releasing Williamson clears $6 million.

Will it happen?

On the one hand, Douglas’s latest comments that he wants Adams to be a Jet for life bring some relief. On the other hand, the Jets probably understand that most of Adams’s frustrations with the organization have been about the lack of winning, so it’s not like any other contract negotiation. It’s precisely certain that Douglas would never deal Adams based on his performance, and he’d rather have him back, even if that costs him cap flexibility.

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