Jamal Adams Trying to Control Situation Out Of His Control
Another day, another elite NFL player grows tired of playing for his underperforming, underpaying organization and uses whatever forces are available to plot his escape. The latest is Jamal Adams, an extremely talented safety for the New York Jets who's made two Pro Bowls in his first three seasons and last year made the All-Pro team for the first time. He's a legit top-three talent at his position and deserves an extension that would place him among the NFL's top-paid safeties, if not the top-paid safety. Adams became available for an extension for the first time this offseason, having completed the requisite three seasons needed by drafted players to be eligible for a new deal.
(Jets safety Jamal Adams is an elite as his position, but wants to be traded from the Jets and sign ). Why the Jets, who can't afford to let elite talent get away, haven't yet locked him up is anyone's guess. Maybe he's asking for more than they're willing to commit. The top safeties are averaging around $14 million annually. A report has been shot down that Adams is asking for $20 million annually.
Maybe the prospect of a fan-less 2021 season -- or even worse, no season at all -- is causing Jets ownership to temporarily rethink its approach to handing out up-front money. It should be noted that other standouts from Adams' memorable draft class, including Patrick Mahomes, DeShaun Watson, Tre'Davious White, T.J. Watt, George Kittle, Alvin Kamara and Budda Baker, also haven't agreed yet on extensions. Adams is hardly alone in being underpaid for his talent. Perhaps Adams just simply doesn't believe in the Jets and their process. Head coach Adam Gase has come under constant criticism since taking the job two years ago. The Jets have no postseason appearances since the start of 2011 and just one winning season in that span. The "why" isn't all that important here.
The reality is Adams is disgruntled, wants out and has already formulated a list of teams to which he'd accept a trade. Seven teams appeared on Adams' preferred list, including the Eagles. Six of those seven teams made the playoffs last year. Here's the list:
Eagles fans salivated at the sight of their team's name on the list, for a variety of seasons, not the least of which is that Eagles fans are known for publicly lobbying Howie Roseman into acquiring any name player who becomes available via trade market or free agency. But other reasons make the Eagles and Adams an ideal match. Safety is one of the team's thinnest positions and devoid of blue-chip talent unless rookie fourth-round pick K'von Wallace, a Clemson product, or free-agent pickup Will Parks emerges into a versatile playmaker. Adams also has two years of contract control, which theoretically makes him easier to commit big money to because the team could stash a chunk of the new guaranteed money from his signing bonus in the fourth and fifth years of his rookie deal, keeping his cap number lower in 2022 and beyond. The Eagles are in the neighborhood of $20 million under the cap this year, so they can stash a good deal of Adams' new money in this year's cap. But the reality is that Adams most likely isn't going anywhere. He's trying hard to control a situation that's not in his control. He can cause chaos on social media. He can blast the Jets publicly every day. He can demand a trade and come up with other teams he'd be willing to play for, but the same cost control that would make him an easy signing for other teams make him difficult for the Jets to move. Unless Adams is willing to hold out and absorb the monumental salary loss involved with refusing to show up for camp and for the season, he has no real leverage in plotting his escape. The Jets technically can control Adams for four more years when taking into account their ability to use the franchise tag twice after his rookie deals expires following the 2021 season. Which is exactly why the Jets have every right to ask for an absurd trade compensation -- two first-round picks – in exchange for Adams, a price most teams won't be willing to play. The Jets are in no hurry to ship out Adams while they're trying to build a winning culture around Sam Darnold and around an improving defense that's rounding into form because of Adams' presence. Some forget the Jets went 6-2 in their final eight games, with a healthy Darnold rebounding from a bout with mononucleosis that cost him three games in 2019. The Jets went 0-3 in those games. They were 7-6 in games started by Darnold. Adams might be ticked off right now, but his feelings could change if the Jets climbed the AFC East standings and managed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Jets could also be willing to make Adams the league's highest-paid safety if they're showing an upward trajectory, or even if indications are positive that NFL football will definitely be played in 2020.
Adams has every right to express his opinion or execute whatever tactic is necessary to provoke the Jets into trading him. But for now, don't expect the Jets to blink. Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is a longtime Philadelphia Eagles and NFL reporter and co-host of Inside the Birds. Listen to the latest Inside the Birds podcast right here: