Jamal Adams requests a trade - ranking the teams who are the best fit
Updated: Oct 1, 2020
JAMAL ADAMS of the New York Jets has requested a trade. Adams has said that he would like to be traded to a competitor, clearly viewing Gang Green’s aspirations for a title to be unrealistic.
Quoted in an Instagram post, Adams claimed: “It’s time to move on. …no hard feelings. Nothing but luv.” – Adams on Instagram.
This is obviously a huge blow to Head Coach Adam Gase and GM Joe Douglas and everyone with more than a passing interest in the New Jersey based franchise. Douglas will not want to be held to ransom, but the harsh reality is that the AFC East team cannot afford to be distracted by a disgruntled superstar in what is a long-term rebuilding project. The additional draft picks that could be recouped from a trade for Adams may outweigh the hassle and toxicity of an ongoing feud between all parties.
Adams truly is a superstar performer. Per Bleacher Report, Adams and JJ Watt are the only players in NFL history with 200+ tackles, 10+ sacks, 25+ pass breakups in their first two seasons in the league. This shows the value of Adams’ impact at all three levels of defense.
Just in the 2019 season alone, Adams accrued 75 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 13 QB hits, two forced fumbles, and a pick-six in just 14 games played. The superstar strong safety also scored two non-offensive touchdowns.
The 2017 top-10 pick has averaged 91 tackles over three seasons, and he has 12 sacks and two interceptions in his career. He is owed roughly $3.5 million this season (base salary of $825,000 and a roster bonus of $2,765,292, and then $9,860,000 in 2021 when/if the Jets pick up his fifth-year option.
Adams has listed seven teams who he perceives as contenders who he would prefer to be traded to: Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, and the Kansas City Chiefs.
There is no certainty that the Jets will consummate a trade but let us look at the hypothetical contenders for his services in case such a blockbuster were to occur. (Tampa Bay has since emerged as a potential destination, but the Bucs have little current cap space and so have not been considered as part of this exercise).
Dallas Cowboys – Cap Space in 2020: $11,254,093,
Dallas seems like a natural fit from Adams’ and the casual fan’s point of view. The Texas native appears as though he wants to return home, and Jerry Jones would certainly have the desire to make a deal happen. Adams is a superstar who would be worth the entry fee to Jerry’s World alone for both Cowboys fans and the neutral observer, but on second glance, it is more of an awkward fit than it first appears.
With just over $11m in cap space, a deal would be possible but at the expense of an immediate extension for Dak Prescott. Prescott has recently signed his franchise tag and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021 and it is clear that a new deal is a priority for both player and team. Furthermore, Dallas signed free agent Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix in April to partner Xavier Woods in what should be a solid safety tandem.
The Cowboys also do not have any obvious cuts that would afford them enough room for manoeuvre to enable them to squeeze Adams under the cap in the event of a long-term Prescott deal. Allegedly, Adams has said that he would forego an immediate extension to make the move to a team of his choice, but Jones’ team has many of its marquee contracts locked in for the next few years (DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Amari Cooper). In the event of a shrinkage to the overall cap number in a post-COVID world, it would take until 2023 at the earliest before it could realistically move on from such deals without crippling dead cap hits.
What would a trade scenario look like for Dallas? Gang Green are likely to want at least a couple of high draft picks in return for their cornerstone player which is something that could make Dallas balk. A candidate who has been linked in a trade is receiver, Michael Gallup due to the recent draft pick of CeeDee Lamb by the Cowboys. Gallup is an excellent young receiver, but the Jets also just drafted a coveted first round wideout in Denzel Mims.
New York also has a combined $16m committed to the newly acquired Breshad Perriman and trusty veteran Jamison Crowder in 2020. This sort of deal seems unlikely and the Cowboys will need to retain as many of its playmakers as possible throughout a perceived Superbowl window with Prescott under center.
The Jets need difference makers on defense in order to make any kind of trade involving players as capital – an irony that will not go unnoticed by Joe Douglas if any movement with Adams starts to materialise. Dallas do not have the realistic bait at this moment in time and if Adams gets his wish of a trade to anyone, surely Douglas will want to retain a semblance of control and not allow Adams to engineer an exit to his preferred destination?
Player power could win out though, and it would not surprise us due to one person: Jerry Jones.
Philadelphia Eagles - $22,731,499
Perhaps the favourites beside Dallas. Philly has a need at the position having released Malcolm Jenkins from the team in March. Jenkins had been with the Eagles for six seasons, but Howie Roseman clearly felt it was time to move on, leaving Jalen Mills as the starter at strong safety.
Mills not familiar with the position and so an addition such as Jamal Adams would be a real statement as a direct replacement for Jenkins’ 2.5 sacks and 81 combined tackles from last season.
The Eagles secondary needs a young, vocal spark to energise the unit and he would fit perfectly alongside veterans Darius Slay, Rodney McLeod and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Sidney Jones has yet to fulfil potential but could be inspired to lift his game to match his talent by a leader such as Adams.
Due to Adams’ prolific accumulation of key stats whilst playing in the box, he would also be an excellent complimentary piece playing alongside Philadelphia’s linebacking corps. The team is seemingly trying to make an attempt to get younger and faster at this position and so Adams would make a lot of sense to help continue to infuse this philosophy further.
A genuine sticking point however, could be the salary cap. Cap space is plentiful right now, but the Eagles have roughly a $50m deficit in 2021 which could possibly be even more restrictive due to the COVID-19 impact on the league-wide cap number.
Howie Roseman does have a reputation as a cap magician though and it would be possible to bring that number back to a controllable level. The drafting of Jalen Reagor this year signifies that in all likelihood, the Eagles will attempt to bridge this deficit by cutting Alshon Jeffery ($8m in savings), Desean Jackson ($5m) and Marquise Goodwin (estimated $7m). Further casualties could include Derek Barnett ($10m), as well as moves to extend and restructure Fletcher Cox ($22m cap hit as things stand) and possibly Carson Wentz.
It is also tricky to predict a trade deal. Young, inexpensive wide receivers will be needed to replace the likes of Jeffery and Jackson and the 2021 draft will be ample opportunity to find a compliment to Reagor. The Eagles do not have a 2021 4th rounder as a bargaining token due to the trade for Genard Avery and so will have to invest their high picks in a new weapon, leaving them hamstrung in any bidding war for Adams’ services.
A bit of imagination would be required, but it would not be surprising to see Adams don a different shade of green this fall.
Seattle Seahawks - $13,750,349
If the Seahawks cannot get a deal done for Jadeveon Clowney, then is it realistic to assume that they could go out and grab Adams? With John Schneider at the helm – you better believe it!
On the surface, Seattle does not have the cap space or positional need, but what better guy to complete a Legion of Boom 2.0 with Adams playing the Kam Chancellor role, alongside the emerging Shaquill Griffin, rangy Quandre Diggs and legal issues permitting, Quinton Dunbar?
Schneider has always been imaginative with his cap management and roster construction and money can be created immediately with a slight restructuring of Russell Wilson’s contract. Wilson could be open to this, due to his desire for the Seahawks to add more ‘superstars’, stating as much during the build up to the Pro Bowl earlier this year.
Adams has stated that he is willing to postpone immediate renegotiations for a contender and this is another reason why the Seahawks could be prime candidates. Seattle are projected to have a little under $68m in 2021, $132m in 2022 and around $200m in 2023 which would allow for Schneider to extend Griffin, Dunbar, Tyler Lockett and Chris Carson as well as to add Adams into the mix.
Adams also fits the ‘chip-on-the-shoulder’ attitude that the Seahawks love. They celebrate individuality and Adams would be a vocal young leader to a rising young core. The Jets need outside corners and so a deal with Tre Flowers as the centrepiece alongside a 1st and 4th round pick could be enough to entice New York into negotiations.
Baltimore Ravens - $7,127,038
This is a scary one for the rest of the league. Baltimore ranked 3rd in points per game allowed last season, 5th in rushing yards allowed and 6th in passing yards allowed. It is generally considered to have a top five D overall that has few holes, but it was only middle of the pack in 2019 in terms of sacks (21st with 37) and interceptions (12th with 13).
Adams could make the difference here and help Baltimore begin to resemble that suffocating defense of the early 2000s. Future Hall-of-Famer Earl Thomas, who attempted to engineer a similar trade away from the Seahawks in 2018 (coincidentally also to Dallas), would remain on the back end in what would easily become the best safety duo in the league.
So, could one of the best, if not the best, box safety in the league make the move to Baltimore? In a word, no. Baltimore will have no doubt done their due diligence on Adams, but there are too many parts that would make a move to Maryland prohibitive.
Firstly, Baltimore already have a more than competent starter at the strong safety position. Chuck Clark is a player on the upswing of his career who led the team in tackles last season, despite only starting 12 games. Clark’s tackle total (73) was actually only two fewer than Adams managed in a pair of additional games played.
Adams is a superior playmaker in the backfield, but the Ravens have made attempts to address their middling pass rush. Leading sack-artist Matt Judon was tagged this off season and free agent addition Derek Wolfe will play alongside exciting draft picks Justin Madubuike and Patrick Queen, all of which will help bolster a unit bereft of truly elite pass rushing terrors.
Furthermore, the cap situation in Baltimore will become a tricky one to navigate in the next 12 months or so. The incumbent Clark would need to be traded to make an Adams addition realistic. Clark carries a dead cap hit of over $10m in 2020 and has only just had his deal reupped for a total of $15.3m. The deal does have a realistic out after 2022, but it is an affordable deal that totals roughly what Jamal Adams would be looking for on a per-year basis. Baltimore also have extensions with Judon, Ronnie Stanley and Matt Skura to negotiate, not to mention the inevitable market setting deal that will be given to Lamar Jackson in 2022 on the horizon, leaving a deal for Adams almost impossible to contrive into reality.
San Francisco 49ers - $15,655,250
Adams to San Francisco is a rumour that is building steam. The 49ers defense is already built to win now and despite the off-season loss of DeForest Buckner, it is a defense that is still primed for another deep playoff run. Jamal Adams would certainly provide quite the tonic to nurse any Superbowl hangover, but is San Francisco truly a realistic destination?
For 2020, the Niners could afford to squeeze Adams under the cap, and if taken at face value, could also afford to extend him to a long-term tenure by the Bay. In 2021, San Francisco are estimated to have just under $50m to spend, but GM John Lynch has some tough decisions to make concerning existing players over the next 18 months.
George Kittle, Trent Williams, Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner.
These are just some of the names that will require extensions over the next couple of years and so that fifty million, along with the estimated $86m in 2022, could disappear quickly.
The Niners defense did suffer slightly towards the end of last season and lost a bit of momentum in the second half of the season. A mere 77 points were given up through October, but from November onwards, the 49ers gave up a whopping 195 points.
This can be accounted due to a number of reasons such as the accumulated fatigue across a long season, but in games against potent offenses such as New Orleans, Seattle and the LA Rams, the team did appear more vulnerable. Adams could provide the consistency and grit needed to maintain a suffocating momentum across a full 16 regular season games.
Some of the consistency may have been lost due to injuries last season. Jaquiski Tartt is the man who Adams is likely to supplant if Lynch were to orchestrate a trade. Tartt is a solid player but seems injury prone, most recently missing the 49ers’ playoff run in the 2019 season.
Adams has never caught the injury bug during his career so far and would provide a clear upgrade at the position. Tartt carries a manageable $6.25m cap hit this season but as trade of an oft-injured player in a straight positional exchange is unlikely to tempt the Jets, even with some picks thrown in.
When it comes to the matter of draft picks, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have both publicly stated that they would be loathe to have as few picks as they had this year and so trading key draft assets seems a long shot in the immediacy. Plus, it is unlikely that the Jets would accept simply a late – possibly the 31st or 32nd – first round choice.
The combination of planning for the future in ‘Frisco via the draft and however they choose to manipulate the salary cap seems to be too restrictive for a trade to come to fruition, especially with an above average starter already entrenched at the strong safety position.
Houston Texans - $19,217,638
On paper at first glance, the Texans appear to make sense. Cap space, a roster that is two or three players away from becoming a dominant force in a weak division and a Head Coach/GM in Bill O’Brien who is not afraid to make controversial moves. Upon closer inspection however, this is also an awkward fit.
The Texans lack the immediate draft capital to make a deal work with the Jets. O’Brien dealt Houston’s 2021 1st and 2nd round draft picks to the Miami Dolphins in a deal that saw his team acquire their franchise left tackle, Laremy Tunsil. There is always the potential for a deal including players plus 2022 picks that could work, but this is unlikely.
Houston just does not have the players to make a deal like this work and if they chose to deal any of their top players, it would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul, sacrificing both strength and/or depth.
It is arguable as to whether or not strong safety is a position of need for Houston. The franchise just signed Eric Murray to play in that role at $20.25m for 3 years. If Adams was to be acquired, then a new role would have to be found for Murray as he carries a $10m dead cap hit this year. The Texans would be unlikely to find a trade partner for a player with such a freshly signed contract who has middling career numbers to date.
Will Fuller and Kenny Stills are both free agents next year and have been mentioned as trade bait for the Texans to dangle. Both receivers are explosive deep threats and would be ideal replacements for Robby Anderson for the Jets, but Fuller is injury prone and Stills is a 7-year veteran who is merely a complimentary piece. As previously mentioned, the Jets just drafted Denzel Mims in the first round, signed Breshad Perriman and with slot specialist Jamison Crowder in tow, it is doubtful that they will be tempted by Stills as a headliner in any deal.
Kansas City Chiefs - $3,574,461
Possibly the least likely destination. Kansas City already have a dynamic trio of safeties in Daniel Sorensen, Juan Thornhill and Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu is locked into the starting strong safety position until at least 2022 on a deal that commits $35m to the tenacious playmaker – a chunk of money that Adams would hope to at least match over the next couple of years.
Thornhill remains on his rookie deal until 2023 and Sorensen is a capable third option.
There is also a major elephant in the room. Arguably the top current QB in the game, Patrick Mahomes is due a market resetting contract in the not-too-distant future. With little over $3.5m to play with in cap space, the Chiefs are going to need to get creative with any potential deal.
Almost equally important is the decision that the Chiefs need to make on star defensive tackle, Chris Jones. Jones is indisputably one of the top 3-techs in the game at present and will need to be paid like one, either in Kansas or elsewhere.
These monster deals will mean that the draft takes on even greater significance for the Chiefs over the next 3-5 years, further adding to the reluctance that Brad Veach and Andy Reid will have with trading away the requisite high drafts picks required to entice the Jets to make a trade.
KC will need to fill out their roster with lower priced rookie deals in order to offset the presence of Mahomes and Jones on their roster throughout the lifetime of their deals. This issue is brought further into focus when you consider the fact that both Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson both become free agents in 2021.
Surrounding Mahomes with weapons will be key to maximising a generational talent in his prime. Luckily for the Chiefs, the 2021 draft is loaded with wide receiving options for an offensive retooling that began in April with the drafting of Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Finally, the Chiefs also have a number of other extensions that will need to be agreed on over the next few years: Travis Kelce, Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher all become free agents in 2022, which only serves to highlight how difficult it is to establish and maintain a dynasty in the modern NFL. A Jamal Adams trade and the oppressive contract that comes with it would eliminate any dreams that the Chiefs have of a dynasty.
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