This is the way to do the scoreboard on the eye-popping Jamal Adams trade Saturday afternoon, which was Adams and a fourth-round pick in 2022 from the Jets to Seattle for safety Bradley McDougald, first-round picks in 2021 and ’22, and a third-round pick in ’21:
• Cancel out the three and the four, even though the Jets get an edge with the pick being a year earlier, because Seattle’s likely to pick low in the third and the Jets high in the fourth. Maybe there’s a difference of 15 to 20 picks, which at that point of the draft isn’t huge.
• This is Adams for two first-round picks and McDougald, a serviceable 30-year-old strong safety of identical size (6-1, 215), playing his walk year with the Seahawks’ ninth-highest cap number ($5.4 million) in 2020.
• Seattle has entered the last five drafts (pre-John Schneider trades) with an average first-round draft position of 23.4. So figure the Jets dealt Adams for a one-year strong safety replacement of a much lesser skill level and first-round picks in the next two years likely to be somewhere around 23.
“We haven’t drafted above 25 for what—10 years?” Pete Carroll told me Saturday night. Almost. Seattle took Bruce Irvin 15th overall in 2012, but it was 2010 when the Seahawks got Russell Okung sixth and Earl Thomas 14th in the first round. Otherwise, they haven’t picked earlier than 25th overall in the past 10 years.
“So we haven’t had a shot at a top-10 pick in a while, and we haven’t had a shot at a top safety in the draft since Earl. This was an extraordinary opportunity for us. Jamal’s a legitimate impact player, in the style we love.”
Analyzing it for each team:
From the Seattle standpoint: This was about getting a premier player, but also a player it has to pay—and probably right now. But there’s no question Schneider and Carroll look at the composition of the roster and the draft a little differently than most teams. Not including the 2020 draft, Seattle, which wheels and deals its traditionally low first-round picks, has drafted five players in the top 45 since 2014: wide receiver Paul Richardson, offensive lineman Germain Ifedi, defensive tackle Malik McDowell, running back Rashaad Penny and defensive end L.J. Collier. So even if the price for Adams seems high (it is), the Seahawks are the rare team that pays for the player even when most teams would say they’re overpaying. In the Seattle system, Adams won’t be a Kam Chancellor clone. Adams is not as big or as physical, and it’s unlikely he’ll be asked to drop down to linebacker to fill a run gap, which Chancellor did at times. Adams could blitz more than Chancellor did, and rove the field with his athleticism and instinct.
Lastly: Seattle has to pay Adams—likely around $18 million a year. Odd to say, but that won’t kill the ‘Hawks. According to Over The Cap, Seattle is 26th in 2021 cap money committed, at $147 million. And with stars Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner not coming up for new deals, it’s clear they can find room for Adams.
From the Jets’ standpoint: I believe GM Joe Douglas would have hung onto Adams and forced him to come to camp, even after his rip-job of coach Adam Gase to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News on Friday. But two first-round picks made that point moot. I agree that the deal was too good to walk away from. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Jets are a lesser team today without Adams, in a division that is suddenly up for grabs. The Jets look like the last-place team in the AFC East for the fourth year in the last five. They’ve got to stop throwing away good players, and they’ve got to start building the type of culture and team that attracts good players instead of repelling them. On the bright side, New York is in the best reconstruction position of any NFL team in the next two drafts, the only team with four first-round picks in 2021 and ’22 combined. Joe Douglas was hired to rebuild this team, and now he’s got the best ammo of any team in football to do so.
“I wouldn’t trade two ones for a safety,” one veteran GM told me Saturday night. “Particularly when you’ve got to pay the safety a lot of money. I like what the Jets did.” That was a common belief around the league after the Adams trade went down. But Seattle in this era will take the proven player over the maybe, and a motivated-to-stick-it-to-his-doubters Adams could be the best safety in football in 2020. The best safety in football is surely worth two picks in the twenties.