The Jamal Adams saga finally came to an end as the Jets dealt the star safety to the Seahawks for a big package in return. The drama that started last October finally reached it’s boiling point after Adams called out Jets coach Adam Gase in a bombshell New York Daily News story. On Saturday July 25, Adams was traded to Seattle in exchange for a haul of draft picks and safety Bradley McDougald. Let’s dive into the deal and why it ended like this.
How We Got Here
The idea of trading an All-Pro on a rookie contract is nearly unfathomable in the NFL. The seed of this idea was planted on October 29, 2019, trade deadline day. The Jets were sputtering with a 1-6 start to the season. Jets General Manager Joe Douglas received calls about Adams’ availability, however he did not initiate the calls, he was simply answering the phone and listening. Adams took offense, figuring a generational talent like himself were untouchable via trade. Douglas goes by the rule that no player besides the quarterback is untouchable. Fast-forward to the offseason and Douglas displays confidence that Adams was going nowhere. Douglas stated on numerous occasions how he wanted “Jamal to be a Jet for life.” Adams claimed he was promised a contract offer, something that has been refuted by the Jets. He requested a trade after not receiving an offer, which put the Jets in a tough spot. The trade then finally came down after Adams’ aforementioned, disrespectful comments about Coach Gase, the final straw. Adams said Gase was “not the right leader for the team.” As you can see, it was a long and ugly path up to this point.
Who Deserves The Blame?
The blame for the divorce clearly belongs to both parties in this scenario. Adams is the heart of the issue, however he is being painted with a bad brush and the Jets deserve a large portion of the blame. Adams has acted childish throughout the process. He called out the Jets on multiple occasions and tried to force a tried with no valid reason to do so. Also, he looked very bad complaining about money among other things during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has torn the nation apart. On the other hand, the Jets handled the situation poorly. While the outcome for the team seems mostly successful, they still made a clear mistake. Letting a 24-year old Hall of Fame talent out the door is not a good recipe. According to multiple reports, all that Adams was asking for was a contract extension. He was willing and even wanted to stay with the team up until very recently. When you have a player like Adams, an extension should be a no-brainer, even after just three seasons in the league. Players like Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, Myles Garrett, and Eddie Jackson are all from Adams’ draft class and recently signed huge extensions. Adams is a comparable or superior player to all of those players besides Mahomes. Douglas, despite getting a great trade return, displayed his inexperience in high-leverage contract negotiations. He was bullish on keeping the star safety, then never offered him a contract extension. The blame mostly falls on Adams, but the Jets deserve some as well for letting a player like him out the door in the first place.
The Jets did get a very nice return in the trade. The problem is the fundamental idea of trading a player of Adams’ caliber. The return package is likely the maximum amount of assets any team would trade in any deal. The Jets sent Jamal Adams and a 4th-round pick in 2022 to the Seahawks. In return, they received 1st-round picks in 2021 and 2022, a 3rd-round pick in 2021, and safety Bradley McDougald. A team can not trade more than that as you need draft picks to build the foundation of your team. Therefore, the Jets are receiving praise for this trade. Obviously the two first round picks are the heart of the deal, but McDougald is also a key piece. Adams will be replacing him in Seattle, while McDougald will be replacing Adams in New York, which will obviously be a challenging task. But McDougald, while being nowhere near the caliber of Adams, is a solid player. He posted 70 tackles in 2019, but was also great in coverage. He racked up 2 interceptions, with a 54% completion percentage allowed, a 58.8 passer rating allowed in coverage, and 6.2 yards per target. McDougald should do a decent job taking over for Adams in the short-term. From the Seahawks perspective, they made the deal as they feel Adams is the final piece for a Super Bowl. It is a calculated risk as the draft picks given up will likely be late due to their expected success.
The Value of the Draft Picks
Joe Douglas did a nice job capturing the draft picks he did in the trade. Picks are obviously cost-controlled, which makes them very valuable. But will they really be enough to make up for the loss of Adams? It is nearly certain that the draft picks will be late in the first round as Seattle is bound to make the playoffs and go deep into them after acquiring Adams. With Adams, Russell Wilson, and Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks have arguably three of the top 10 players in the NFL. They will ultimately succeed with that core of players, and the picks will likely fall in the 25-32 range, which are all teams that make the divisional round or later. I did some research into picks 25-32 from the 2013-2017 NFL Drafts to see the caliber of those players. 17.5% of late first-round picks (25-32) from those five drafts became Pro Bowlers. Only 10% are multi-time Pro Bowlers. There were some notable stars like DeAndre Hopkins, T.J. Watt, and Xavier Rhodes. There were also some colossal busts like Paxton Lynch, Datone Jones, and Joshua Garnett. The draft is a crapshoot at it’s core. There are no sure-things and unlocking a star is a treacherous exercise. The later the picks are, the more challenging it gets. This is an imperfect exercise as the Pro Bowl is not always indicative of player performance and it is just a prediction of where these picks will land. However, this clearly displays that simply gathering draft picks does not mean you have succeeded in a trade. It will be very hard for the Jets to find a player of Adams’ caliber with these picks.
Final Thoughts and Future Outlook
This trade is a painful reminder for Jets fans that the team has not changed their awful culture. A culture which high-level players are disinterested in prevails. Another Hall of Fame talent is out the door as the never-ending cycle of rebuilding spirals along. The final review of this trade will be unknown for another 5 years or so. Until the draft picks are finalized and developed as NFL players, the grading of the trade is incomplete. The Jets have to nail both of the first-rounders to make this deal a successful one in hindsight. That is not easy to do in the always challenging draft, especially with the picks almost certainly to be late. Jets General Manager Joe Douglas’ future in the job will likely hinge on how he uses this treasure of assets. For the Seahawks, they enter 2020 as major contenders. They are right in play for a Super Bowl, which they hope Adams will help them capture. They expect him to be a difference-maker who will play a huge role in taking them to the promise land. This was a high-stakes trade in which each side took a big risk.
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