The Seahawks Traded Away A Fuckload To Bring Back Jamal Adams

Turns out it wasn’t just a nonsense rumor.

Here’s the damage. The Jets get:

  • 2021 & 2022 Seahawks first round draft picks
  • 2021 Seahawks third round draft pick
  • Bradley McDougald, with 1 year and $3.6 million remaining on his deal

The Seahawks get:

  • 2022 Jets fourth round pick
  • Jamal Adams, making around $3.59 million this year, and set to earn $9.86 million in 2021

Fine, so Jamal Adams is one of the best safeties in football. Does that make him worth two first rounders? Is ANY safety worth two first rounders? Well, you could argue (and I have) that the Seahawks are just going to screw up with whoever they select in the first round anyway, so what are first rounders REALLY worth on this team? Still, it seems like getting rid of a headache for the Jets should come at a little bit more of a discount!

How is Jamal Adams a headache, you ask? Well, he fancies himself one of the best safeties in football, and as you can see from above, he’s not exactly taking in the type of money one would expect. Also, not for nothing, but he had the misfortune of being drafted by the Jets! As one of the poorer-run franchises in all of professional sports (not the worst, mind you; they’re not the Washington Football Team or anything), they rarely make good decisions on personnel and ipso facto, they rarely make the playoffs or are any sort of legitimate threat to win championships. So, of course, he’s been threatening to hold out (don’t know how much good that does players anymore), requesting a re-worked deal at the top of the safety market, demanding a re-worked deal at the top of the safety market, and ultimately just demanding a trade out of the Jets’ organization.

The Jets seemed willing to wait it out. With the fourth year of Adams’ rookie deal yet to be played, and with the fifth year option already administered, they were holding a pretty good hand. The Seahawks opted to blink first, and here we are.

What’s interesting is, you might expect the Seahawks to turn around and immediately announce a long-term contract extension for Adams. Not to say that still can’t happen (indeed, the way salary has been dumped over the last day might indicate something is afoot), but a reporter on Twitter this morning said both sides have agreed that Adams will play on his existing contract, with no promises about the future. My hunch is, if this is true, the Seahawks are going to see how he looks and determine how best to fit him within the scheme, and then if it pans out, either extend him sometime during the season or in the next offseason. I do NOT expect Adams to play on his fifth-year option next year, nor do I expect the Seahawks to let him walk (at best, we would get a third round draft pick in compensation if he did, which is nowhere near worth the cost of giving up two first rounders and a third).

I’ll be interested in how Jamal Adams is used by the Seahawks. When I think of the best safety in football, I think of Earl Thomas. I think THAT guy has real high-end value! His speed, his instincts, his playmaking when it comes to generating turnovers and absolutely destroying fools: it’s pretty unmatched! By all accounts, Adams doesn’t play the same game as Earl. While you can put him in at free safety, that’s not his natural spot; he’s more of a strong safety, or even a quasi-linebacker type.

He has 12.0 sacks in his 3-year career, including a whopping 6.5 last year! He’s also only got two interceptions, which is pretty underwhelming. In looking at various charts and whatnot, it looks like Adams lines up pretty close to the line of scrimmage on most plays, which would indicate more of a Kam Chancellor type. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Kam – he’s one of my all-time favorite professional athletes! – but is he worth two 1’s and a 3?

People say Adams is a better version of Kam, that he can do more in coverage (particularly against tight ends *ahem, George Kittle*). And, really, what’s undeniable is that this defense has NOT been the same since Kam was forced into early retirement because of his neck injury.

I have a lot of conflicting emotions, is the point I’m trying to make. The Seahawks don’t have the best track record when it comes to these types of blockbuster trades (which I’ll look into in a future post). But, here’s the good news: the Seahawks added another playmaker!

Adams is undeniably an upgrade over Bradley McDougald. I was a big fan of McDougald when he was here; I thought the Seahawks got tremendous value out of him in his three years here. But, he’s 30 years old this year, and while he laced ’em up just about every game, injuries wore his body down. McDougald was generally pretty great early in seasons, but his production fell off the map as the weeks dragged on and he was forced to play through a nagging this or a bruised that. As an everyman, as a third option to fill in or help out on a part-time basis, I don’t think there are many who would be better in that role than McDougald; in a defense featuring Quandre Diggs and Marquise Blair as your starters, I liked that trio a lot.

But, McDougald almost certainly would’ve started off this season as one of the starters, and Blair is the big unknown in all of this. He was a rookie last year, ultimately didn’t play much at all until very late in the season, and now here we are in 2020 with no pre-season games and some weird training camp that’s unlike anything we’ve ever had to experience before. How much can you count on Blair taking a big step forward? And, will he EVER develop into a viable starting safety in this league?

I don’t know the answer to that. No one does. Jamal Adams, on the other hand, is a proven, elite strong safety. Quandre Diggs is a proven, very good, free safety. Combined, we might be looking at the very best safety tandem in all of football (and, if Quinton Dunbar is freed of all charges and allowed to play this year, that will translate into the Seahawks having the very best secondary in all of football). With Blair as your number three, there’s just a bit of a drop-off from McDougald, but the upside is significantly higher. If Blair reaches that upside, then at some point we can let Diggs walk and have Blair take over at free safety.

What this trade signifies is this: Pete Carroll did NOT like the Seahawks’ secondary last year! He did NOT like playing so much base defense! The fact that we muddled through and somehow made the playoffs is a testament to our coaching staff and defensive scheme (and, yeah, Russell Wilson, but there have been plenty of elite quarterbacks with terrible defenses who failed to make the playoffs, so he doesn’t get ALL the credit). But, Carroll was NOT about to suffer another season of this secondary getting shredded.

The thing that a lot of football people keep returning to is the massive haul the Seahawks gave up. Here’s a good article delving pretty deep into it. Normally, when you see teams giving up multiple first rounders, you’re getting someone who the consensus feels is at a position of importance. A defensive end (Khalil Mack), a lockdown cornerback (Jalen Ramsey), a left tackle (Laremy Tunsil). You don’t see it a lot with quarterbacks, mostly because the very best QB’s are kept by their teams, but historically you’ve seen it with them (Jay Cutler, Jeff George, Jim Everett) and running backs (Ricky Williams, Herschel Walker, Eric Dickerson). Safety, as that article points out, is not considered to be one of the highest-value positions (as their salaries tend to indicate).

To that, I would say, I don’t agree with the consensus. I think safeties can make all the difference on a defense. I don’t see anyone complaining when they have one of the very best safeties in all of football, because those guys are constantly making impact plays! Usually, at least once a game, and once in a while they can absolutely take over! When it comes to the NFL, and the parity therein, just one more high-impact play per game can really impact your season. It can make a mediocre team good enough for a Wild Card spot, and it can make a Wild Card team good enough to win a division!

The Seahawks certainly hope the latter comes true in 2020.

While I’m a safety apologist, I do buy the argument that maybe this wasn’t the ideal blockbuster for this team to make. As I’ve noted, I was pretty happy with the safeties we had. Without Adams, this team had the potential to have a very good – maybe Top 5 – secondary, so the improvement might’ve very well been negligible. On the other hand, there are outlets indicating the Seahawks have the 32nd-ranked defensive line/pass rush (out of 32 teams), and if there’s a defensive end out there who could’ve been had for the same haul of draft picks, the Seahawks probably would’ve been better served going that route. I can’t argue with that! I’m the guy who’s been going on and on about the defensive line all offseason! A trade like THAT might’ve pulled this unit up into the middle of the pack; with all else being the same, that’s probably enough to make this team a Super Bowl contender, instead of just Wild Card fodder.

It’s not even an argument, but I would question if there WERE any elite defensive ends out there that were available to be traded. Khalil Mack is a future Hall of Famer, were any of these other disgruntled, franchise tagged defensive ends on a similar course? If not, then that’s probably not draft capital well spent. I mean, is that Jacksonville guy really REALLY elite? Or, is he one of dozens of guys who out-performed his rookie deal and is mad he’s on a shitty team?

Jamal Adams seems like he’s really REALLY elite. He looks like he’s on a Hall of Fame course. And, he’ll be only 25 years old in October, so there are PLENTY of great years ahead.

At this point, my only concern is character-based. He’s obviously upset with how little money he’s earning. He knows he’s going to get a huge deal somewhere. He probably understands that he’s going to get that here in Seattle. But, how reasonable is he? The Seahawks obviously have a lot of experience with passionate, arrogant, sometimes-unhinged individuals with no lacking of self-confidence. Is Adams going to get along with this coaching staff and front office? Or, is he going to be a pain in the ass from day one that we’re stuck with because we pushed all of our chips into the middle of the table to get this guy in here?

I’m willing to suffer those types of players when the Seahawks draft them; I’m less willing to put up with it from outsiders, from hired guns we bring in for the express purpose of winning us a championship. We’ll see.

The bottom line is, I’m not thrilled with what it cost to get him here. I’m not super-jazzed about the moderate improvement to our secondary (compared to what could’ve been a significant improvement to our defensive line). I’m wary about how we’re going to be trounced from a value standpoint, for a guy who we’re only seeing for one of the four years on his rookie deal (before he starts making about $15 million per season as one of the highest-paid guys on our team). But, I love a great safety! If he comes in, makes an immediate and lasting impact, then who cares what it cost to get him here and keep him here?! If we win the Super Bowl during Russell Wilson’s prime, then again, who gives a horse fuck?!

All Pros are always worth having on your team. The more, the better. Heading into 2020, all we had was Bobby Wagner on defense. Now, we’ve got him and Jamal Adams. The middle of our defense is going to be SICK!