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Thoughts on the Jamal Adams Saga

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Oakland Raiders v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The situation between the Jets and Jamal Adams took a dramatic turn yesterday as the All Pro safety officially asked for a trade. I have spent the last day gathering my thoughts on the subject. Here is what I think right now. As always, I reserve the right to change my mind at a future date should events dictate.

Adams doesn’t want to be here.

I guess that’s an obvious takeaway considering he asked to be traded. Still this new development makes me reevaluate the events of the past year.

As trade rumors swirled around Adams at the deadline last autumn, some things didn’t really add up to me. The Jets and the Cowboys reportedly never got close to making a deal yet there was an incredible amount of hype around the rumors. There was also talk of how Adams would welcome a trade.

In the aftermath, Adams was vocal being upset that the Jets listened to trade offers for him. He compared himself with Tom Brady and Aaron Donald, players synonymous with their teams (although Brady has ironically left the Patriots since). At the same time there were rumors about Adams wanting out of New York.

Then moving to this offseason, Adams has been vocal about his frustration over the lack of progress on extension talks. He made a big deal about skipping virtual offseason workouts. It didn’t seem to me to be that different from typical posturing you see in contract negotiations.

In retrospect things seem different now, especially given these reports.

With this it doesn’t really seem like it is all about the contract. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the teams where he wants to go all made the Playoffs last year. The Jets are 16-32 in Adams’ career, and he has been vocal at times about his frustration over the losing.

In retrospect Adams’ venting about the trade rumors from last autumn and the lack of an extension this year all while leaking word that he would accept a trade all seems like a bit of a misdirection. It seems to me like Adams wants to leave the Jets, but he doesn’t want to be perceived as the bad guy who demanded out so he is trying to create a narrative that he had to go because he wasn’t wanted.

Everybody deserves some of the blame.

If Adams doesn’t want to be on the Jets, he needs to just have the guts say it and take the repercussions. He isn’t going to come off as a sympathetic party to anybody. Fans aren’t going to view him positively.

The Jets also have to take some of the blame for this. Given the teams Adams reportedly wants to go to, the losing seems to have something to do with this drama. When your best player doesn’t want to be on your team because he doesn’t think he can win, that’s partially on you. I can’t prove it definitively, but I tend to doubt there would be such contract drama here if the Jets were in Baltimore’s position right now. Adam Gase is a coach who frequently discusses culture. If after a year in Gase’s program Adams wants out, it at least indirectly doesn’t say good things about this team’s culture.

Last offseason when Anthony Barr backed out of his agreement to join the Jets, some claimed the Jets couldn’t be blamed. I understood the point, but I couldn’t entirely agree. With a promising young quarterback like Sam Darnold, the Jets should have been the team every talented player in the NFL was excited to join. Why wasn’t this the case? Something seemed wrong. Once again a premium young player doesn’t want to be part of this team. That’s a knock against the environment the management of the team has created, and it goes all the way up to ownership.

(Barr backing out of his deal was likely a blessing in disguise for the Jets, but that’s beside the point.)

Revis redux?

This situation naturally has led people to compare it to the last time the Jets had an elite member of their secondary with whom there were contract disputes. That was Darrelle Revis.

Many fans note have stated the Jets should trade Adams as a result. To be certain the relationship between Adams and the team might be reaching a point of no return where a trade becomes necessary. Still, I think we must acknowledge that would likely make the team worse, not better.

Revis might have created contract headaches, but his absence was felt when the Jets traded him. In the two seasons following the trade, 2013 and 2014, cornerback was a major weakness for the Jets. It lost the team games.

While you can question the way Adams handles his negotiations, it is difficult to argue he is anything other than an impact player on the field.

Adams has made the Pro Bowl and been selected to All Pro teams two consecutive years. If you look at his impact in the games the Jets won last year, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say replacing Adams with your typical safety might have been the difference between 7-9 and 3-13.

While a trade might end up being the only course of action, there would be a pretty major cost.

Adams’ value won’t get higher.

If you look at the remaining money left on Adams current contract, it amounts to roughly a two year deal worth $17 million. For what Adams brings to the table, that is very good value.

Yet with two years remaining on the contract and Adams only 24 years old, you couldn’t really say a contending team would be mortgaging its future in paying a big price for the All Pro safety. This wouldn’t be a one year rental. It would be a multiyear investing in a proven star who is still young. The acquiring team would also have the franchise tag at its disposal and the option to extend Adams in the future.

The longer the Jets hold Adams, the less value he has. If the Jets make the deal a year from, now, the acquiring team only gets one cheap year in what amounts to a rental. If Adams doesn’t want to be a member of the Jets long-term, selling when the value is at its highest has to be a consideration.

Adams doesn’t have a ton of leverage in this situation. Ironically the best leverage he has might be the length of that rookie deal he has been complaining about.

This is Joe Douglas’ biggest test so far.

Joe Douglas’ life as Jets general manager has been pretty easy. He was hired along with a lot positive media attention. Nobody could blame him for the team’s struggles in 2019. It wasn’t the team he built. This year if the Jets disappoint, fans will likely put much more blame on Adam Gase than him.

The Adams situation will likely be his first major test. Can he deflate the situation and get Adams to buy into being a member of the Jets for the long term?

If not, can he maximize the return in a trade? It is a tricky situation. On the one hand, I mentioned how Adams’ value won’t get any higher as time goes on. On the other hand, it isn’t in Douglas’ interest to make a panic deal right now for a lame return like only a first and a third round pick or a player like Michael Gallup and a day two pick.

Douglas will need to strike the right balance waiting for the right deal to come along while not waiting so long that Adams’ value drops. He needs to thread the needle the way Jacksonville did with Jalen Ramsey. It is easier said than done.

We all lose in this situation.

I can’t help but express my disappointment that things have gotten to this point. My hope for the Jets’ future has largely been based on the foundation of two cornerstone players. One is supposed to be an anchor of the offense’s foundation for years to come. The other was supposed to do the same for the defense. They are Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams. Darnold has the higher ceiling, but Adams has already reached stardom.

It now seems that Adams’ days with the Jets are numbered. A trade might not happen today or this month. It might not even happen this year, but a long-term deal looks unlikely as things currently stand.

The good teams in this league get good because they draft and build around great players. The bad teams seldom get great players, and they have a way of letting the few who are great get away. It’s frustrating to be at this point.

All any of us can do is hope it gets worked out. If not that, we are left to hope the Jets use the picks they receive in an Adams trade to draft other great players who the team does build around in the future.