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Pay or Trade Jamal Adams?

The team leader and all pro

NFL Pro Bowl Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The events of the past few days have raised the question (once again) of whether the Jets should trade Jamal Adams or re-sign him to a long term deal. Like any controversy there are multiple facets involved with the choice. People who think the team should trade Jamal can’t understand people in the other camp and visa versa.

The reasons for this are varied and range from team building desires to philosophical differences. There is truly no correct answer because the question is far too complex, but let us try to show why each side feels so strongly. I’m not trying to change minds here, just letting each side know the thought processes at play.

Why should the Jets trade Jamal Adams?

There isn’t a lot of mystery on why people want to trade Jamal. Even the people on this side of the argument will stipulate that Jamal is a great player. In fact it is that reason they feel so strongly to trade Jamal. Someone with his type of ability would bring a king’s ransom in a trade. Something like a 1st and 2nd round pick this year and a 1st in 2021 has been bandied about. That type of haul with a loaded Draft just days away is an enticing proposition. It could be a windfall that has franchise-changing implications if used wisely.

This is reason number one.

Jamal Adams is but a single person who plays a single position. You could trade him for maybe three very good players. It’s a sound sensible premise. Three very good players at possible positions of need would do wonders for the Jets.

Now this type of reasoning is assuming we get three very good players in the Draft. Joe Douglas has yet to make a single pick in the NFL Draft. and now you want him to bring in three difference makers into the team. The NFL Draft can feel like a series of dart throws. The Jets are living proof that the Draft is no guarantee.

So far Joe Douglas’ track record has been inconsistent. Ryan Kalil was signed to an $8 million+ contract as a center which was a good try but ultimately was a disaster and a total waste of funds. He has signed a few mid level players in free agency with no guarantees any will be true standout players. George Fant was bought in with a hefty contract for a player with good physical tools but a history of low level play.

So while the reasoning is sound, the end result is an unknown. Joe Douglas could be worse at drafting players than Mike Maccagnan or John Idzik which would leave us with little to nothing. Of course if that was the case the Jets would be doomed anyway so why not go down with guns blazing?

Some people would like to maximize the Jets resources by turning 1 player into 3 while others would like to retain a great player for an unknown future. It’s the old “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” theory. Neither side is right or wrong. The future is uncertain.


Jamal Adams is a strong personality.

This is reason number two.

There can only be a few leaders on a team, and many believe that right is reserved for the QB. The starting QB on any team is the most important player to the success of the team by a wide margin. If you don’t have a capable QB your chances for success are poor.

Jamal is a team leader, but he is often too outspoken. He is a target for the media. You never know what is going to come out of his mouth. He could put the Jets in a bad light or say something embarrassing. Some might argue he is not worth the possible headache.

This is something I have heard other people tell me, which I find contrary to reason. Strong personalities are going to rub some people the wrong way at times. There is no avoiding that. I used to hear the same thing about Ray Lewis in the past, but he was a vital part of Ravens history and will go down as one of the best players of all-time.

What is important is how the locker room takes that personality. Leaders are born. They are not made, Jamal Adams was considered one of the greatest leaders in LSU history on a team with many powerful personalities. A lot of the what people see as a malcontent stems from losing. Frustration will boil over when teams are not successful. Jamal just wants people to play better, which will lead to wins. The Jets defense was very good last year with mediocre talent. The reason for that was Jamal Adams. He held that rag tag unit together. Once CJ Mosley went down he was the only leader left. Don’t underestimate his value to that defense.

Football is a brutal sport. A team needs leaders who are passionate and skilled. If you could go back in time and draft Ray Lewis to your team I believe 90% of fans would want him despite the occasional baggage. You don’t often find great leaders, but if you have one you should do everything in your power to keep him. Why do you think other teams are offering multiple high picks for Jamal? He is a safety, which I have been told is a non-vital position. Are these other teams foolish?

The school of thought on whether Jamal is a great leader or not is still out. I know when I evaluate prospects, high level leadership skills are a gold star type trait. I had Jamal Adams as the #4 player in his Draft class even though he was a safety. The reason was his leadership skills. Why do we want to get rid of him because of a gold star trait?

You have to keep in mind that football is not played by robots. My coach used to scream at us, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” He used to get us to the brink of exhaustion then make us go harder to power through it. Once we did that we thought we were invincible and could do anything. We were better because we accomplished something few others could.Of course we weren’t invincible, but we didn’t know it. We believed in ourselves so that was all that mattered. We would not have been that way if not for our coach.

No coach in the NFL can do that same thing for his players. It has to be done by a respected peer. To be able to make a play when you are tired, hurting and fatigued takes dedication but you also need belief. A leader gives players that belief. I don’t think you can overstate the power of leadership. It is of vital importance. The NFL season is a long, arduous journey that can be near debilitating. You need leaders to keep a team on the right path, to work hard, to do the extra things necessary to be successful when their bodies are screaming no.

I am sure you have seen people at your work who will do the least possible if they can. These people play football too, maybe not to that extent but to a minimal degree. Leaders keep people motivated and work to get the situation right. Without strong leaders the team falls apart.

The trade Adams because of his strong personality reason seems dubious at best

The thing that makes Jamal such a great teammate is his leadership skills. Like anyone who has a strong opinion there will be dissenters to his beliefs or ideas. This is unavoidable yet the leadership is vital to the club. Jamal is but one of a handful of leaders on the team. He would be hard to replace.


I have heard that a safety is a nonpriority position. Assets should be used for left tackles, edge rushers, QBs and the like.

This is reason number three.

In theory it is a sound strategy to allocate funds to the highest priority positions. In reality this would not work because you will rarely have the best players on your team at just those positions. What will happen is you will overpay someone who is far less talented just because he plays a more vital position.

The way to increase the talent on your team is to pay the most talented people. Let other teams have the less talented guys. If you draft well you will continue to build your talent base. This is the way to build a championship roster.

I remember a story told by center Randy Cross who was the 49ers center in the glory years. He was talking with legendary coach Bill Walsh who Cross won Super Bowls with. He told Walsh that he had some good years left, and the center position will be fine for the next 5 years. Walsh looked at him and said, “Oh I’ll trade you long before that.” Cross looked at him just stunned. Walsh saw that and said, “I want you when you are great. You can play for someone else when your good; I only want great players.” That is how a multi-Super Bowl winning coach thinks.

I understand there is only so much money to go around, but this is not like your dad talking about the family budget. There is more than enough money if allocated properly. Don’t spend $72.5 million with $34 million in guarantees for a player you have never even met.

There is more than enough money to pay Jamal now. Once some of the insane contracts that Mike “I have no idea what players are worth” Maccagnan gave out start running out there will be even more. Let’s build the talent level then worry about the money later. The Salary cap right now is about $200 million.

I saw someone suggest we trade Jamal Adams to the Jaguars for Yannick Ngakoue plus a 2nd round pick then pay Ngakoue $20 million a year. Ngakoue is already saying he is not playing in Jacksonville anymore. How is he not a much bigger malcontent than Jamal? Ngakoue is a great pass rusher, but he is near brutal against the run. He (in my opinion) is not even close to the player Jamal Adams is. Ngakoue has 37.5 sacks in 4 years (only 8 in 2019) and people want to give away our All Pro safety and pay the guy $20 million? Why do you think Jacksonville is letting him walk?

In conclusion, the third reason has merits. but in reality there is more than enough money with wise salary cap use. Hopefully the days of the wild spending of Maccagnan are over, and fiscal responsibility will become the norm rather than the outlier.

Why should the Jets keep Jamal Adams?

The obvious reason to keep a great player is that he is a great player. Why would you not want a great player? If an All Pro from another team was asking for a trade (Jamal has never insinuated that) most Jet fans would be wondering how we could acquire that player. We all want as many great players as possible. Adams is a two time All Pro and is only 24 years old. He is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. This is what you hope for when you draft somebody.

Some of the best trades ever made are the ones that never happen because you look back to see you would have traded a Hall of Fame player for some middling talents. That might not be a for sure outcome, but is far more likely than drafting three great players.

Look back at Jamal’s Draft class:

#1 Myles Garrett, #2 Mitch Trubisky, #3 Solomon Thomas, #4 Leonard Fournette #5 Corey Davis, #6 Jamal Adams, #7 Mike Williams

Which one of the top 7 would you want? Garrett has had a good career, but he has now been suspended and is said to be a locker room problem. Fournette has been solid, but he has been injured. He also is not considered a top five player at his position. Trubisky, Thomas, Davis, and Williams all looked like great prospects when they were drafted, but all seem to be busts or overdrafts.

These were the top seven players of that draft. If you trade for picks there is no guarantee you would even get top ten picks.

In conclusion, it seems obvious to keep a possible Hall of Fame player instead of trading for some magic (beans) picks where you don’t know what you will get. Plus you have no idea how solid future classes will be assuming you trade for future picks.


Reason two to keep Jamal is simple. He is a leader and a strong voice for the team. In a team environment it is always best to have five or six strong voices united in a common cause. People mention the Patriot Way, and Bill Belichick always had a small group of players who would champion his mantra. They kept order by having everyone moving together in the same direction. These players were voices for the team. The media knew it. The coaches knew it. The players knew it. When players understand where they fit in the team hierarchy, the smoother things are. You pull your weight. You do your job then you become an equal among your peers.

Jamal has a good relationship with Gregg Williams even though they have been together for only a year. I don’t think Williams would be to excited about trading away a foundational player who helped his unit work around a lack of talent at key spots last year.

Another year in the Williams defense should only increase the level of play. Per Rich Cimini since entering the league in 2017 Adams ranks in the top five in snaps, tackles, sacks, and forced fumbles by a DB. I don’t know how much more you could want him to do.

Besides being a leader Jamal has a burning desire to win. He is just the guy you want to be a leader on the defense.

Jamal may be the most versatile player in all of football while being a true leader and All-Pro player. He wants to win more than anything, you want that type of passion on your team. Why would you ever want to get rid of him?


You could argue that the best use of assets is to sign Jamal Adams to a long term contract. This is the third reason to keep him.

You may wonder how that is even remotely sensible. Let me explain. Jamal wants the security of a long-term contract. By giving him that security he will know that the team is totally invested in him, and he will be the face of the defense for years.

It will also make him a better leader. How?

If you get paid in the NFL then you get respect. If Jamal makes top safety money everybody will know he is the man who is making the most so they will respect him even more as silly as it might sound.

In another way of looking at the situation, who was the best player for the Jets last year by a wide margin? So why would you not want to pay that man what he is worth to show others that great play and dedication gets rewarded not later but now?

If you worry about other players wanting to get paid early you can tell them, when you become a two-time All Pro and we will pay you as well. Seems like a good strategy to get players to strive for greatness.

The use of salary cap is best spent on making your team better. Giving Jamal an extension is a way of doing that you could argue. There is more than enough money to pay Jamal and have money left over for other positions, especially when some of the Maccagnan foolishness comes off the books.

Look at it this way. You are all Jets fans. You drafted a great player who is a now two-time All Pro, and he is only 24 years old. If you sign this kid to a nice contract then do it again he retires at say 32 or 33 years old and becomes a Hall of Fame inductee five years later. You will be able to tell your grandkids about Jamal Adams the Hall of Fame player that you watched since he was a rookie who went down as a top five player of all-time in Jets history. Or you could say the Jets traded him away for a Draft pick used on a guard that lasted four seasons. Which do you prefer?


Whatever he decides, Joe Douglas should get together with Jamal right after the Draft (if he is still with the team) and let him know what is going on.Don’t let your best player swing in the wind like some UDFA. He has earned that much.

That’s what I think.

What do you think?