In 2017 strong safety Jamal Adams was drafted sixth overall in the first round of the NFL draft by the New York Jets, an exciting night for both he and the franchise, trickled with claims of ‘let’s get back to the Super Bowl’ and ‘I won’t ruin this organsaition’ from the former LSU Tiger.
Encouraging words, little meaning.
Three years later rumours began to gain traction Adams was unsettled, fuelled by a poor roster, financial insecurity and the franchise’s open ears when it came to trade offers for him. It boiled over into an official trade request late last week.
While the Jets technically have the power with Adams under contract for two more seaons, it would be wise to palm off one of football’s best defensive backs and get something valuable in return, rather than hope you can convince him to stick around a little longer when he clearly does not want to.
The new saga brings an end to a three year stint with the Jets that feels as though it was just taking off. Adams has emerged as the best young safety in the league, with superb athleticism and a great ability to cover the entire pitch making him a colossal defender. He has impressive awareness pre-snap thanks to a high IQ, all contributing to his continual rise year in and year out. Adams has already delivered plenty in the awards column, garnering a maiden Pro Bowl selection and second team All-Pro honour in his sophomore year in 2018. A year later he went one better, making the first All-Pro team and another Pro Bowl, all by the age of 24.
Adams wants a new, pricier contract but the Jets have remained quiet knowing it is not a current priority in business terms. In April the franchise picked up the fifth year option on Adams’ contract, keeping him around for the next two years before becoming an unrestricted free agent. General manager Joe Douglas has continuously and extensively praised Adams, but he and the franchise’s willingness to entertain offers, while logical for any front office, has rubbed the All-Pro the wrong way.
Adams has listed seven teams he would like to join – the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. What do all of them have in common? They are perennial playoff contenders. So Adams is, unsurprisingly, following the trend of a young player who after just a couple of years of losing and a newly risen contract drama, wants greener pastures. Fair enough to a degree, a bit naïve to another.
Jalen Ramsay did so last year when the Jacksonville Jaguars began resorting to old losing habits. The majority of the Miami Dolphins franchise did after some heavy losses to start their 2019 campaign. Antonio Brown was a constant headache for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the same for the Oakland Raiders (now in Las Vegas) once he was dealt there. You can go as far back as the 2004 NFL draft when Eli Manning said he would refuse to sign with the San Diego Chargers even if they drafted him, because they were bad.
What place suits Adams best? And what organisation is in need of an upgrade at strong safety?
Quite possibly the best move for Jamal Adams financially and on-field, is shifting down and across to Indianapolis and joining the Colts. Indy may not be on Adams’ list, but they are one of the better run franchises in the league with a roster growing in talent, which includes newly acquired defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, and a strong coaching group.
Coach Frank Reich has been able to revitalise the team since ariving in 2018, and they should have been the front runner for the AFC South division if it was not for Andrew Luck’s shock retirement last year. 2020 is looking a lot brighter. The arrival of Philip Rivers to take over the starting quarterback job has created some new-found excitement. Rivers worked alongside Reich when he was at the Chargers as an offensive coach, so expect the 38-year-old to enjoy an uptick in production.
Indy ranked 23rd in passing yards allowed last season and could do with an elite presence at the back. Adams’ addition would give them a spine of talent spread across the roster, with Pro-Bowl level guys at running back, quarterback, receiver, offensive and defensive line, linebacker and the defensive backfield.
Adam would displace Khari Willis and Roland Milligan who currently hold down the strong safety position – a 2019 fourth round pick and former undrafted rookie respectively.
The Colts do have an absurd amount of cap room in 2022 which is currently projected to sit at $164 million. Expectedly that room will dwindle within two years, and a chunk will go towards resigning wide-out TY Hilton and holding onto Rivers should he have a strong 2020 season. But enough will be left over to keep Adams around.
While the long-standing, passionate Eagles loyalty within me is in pain writing this, Adams to the Cowboys makes a ton of sense for both parties. The franchise reportedly went after Adams at last year’s deadline, and they appear to be Adams’ preferred destination… so will the Cowboys buck up and make a move?
Dallas lost multiple key players in their secondary this offseason (an area they were thin in as it was) including Byron Jones and Jeff Heath, and they only minorly addressed it. They have roster room for an elite safety who would do wonders to a group that statistically fared well against the pass last year, ranking 10th overall.
The rest of the defence has plenty of star power with Demarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch in the front seven, and newcomers in Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe who add depth. Offensively they have one of the best running backs in Ezekiel Elliott, the best receiving core in the league as well as a strong line, and a quarterback in Dak Prescott who while not the most skilled, has a habit of winning.
The problems arise when factoring in Prescott’s ongoing contract situation, and the financial constraints it will likely put on the team. The quarterback recently signed a record franchise tender of $31.4 million, which keeps him at the team for one more year, but also sets the bar high over a future contract that will more than likely sit at 30 mil a year for three or four seasons.
The Cowboys have big financial obligations to Elliott, Amari Cooper, Zack Martin and Lawrence as it is. That leaves the team with little wiggle room in resigning Adams to a big deal.
In terms of hopeful success, the Seahawks are one of the better destinations for Adams. The franchise is experiencing a minor resurgence with Russell Wilson at the helm, coming off 10 and 11 win seasons in 2018 and ‘19. 2020 delivering a division and conference title is plausible.
The offence has received some well-earned touches up front and in the receiving core this summer, headlined by veteran tight end Greg Olsen. The defence is improving as well, with seasoned pros like Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin and K.J. Wright scattered amongst talented youngsters. But their defensive backs are far from an elite group. The Hawks ranked a lowly 27th against the pass a year ago, and 26th overall defensively.
Adding a young All-Pro to an area that has been missing the Legion of Boom would be a huge move. Adams fills an area currently held, likely, by Bradley McDougald who with all due respect, is far from one of the league’s best safeties.
Unlike the Cowboys, the salary cap should not be a problem, with $13 million currently available which is set to go up to $132 million in 2022. The Hawks do not have any potential contract dramas emerging soon, and have never been shy in giving star defenders a healthy pay packet.
Sports writer based in Auckland, New Zealand. I have a strong passion for a range of codes, including the NBA, NFL, Soccer, Rugby and more.