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Safety Jamal Adams has told the New York Jets that he wants to be traded, a source told ESPN. Could Adams, frustrated by contract negotiations, force the team's hand?
The 2017 top-10 pick has averaged 91 tackles over three seasons, and he has 12 sacks and two interceptions in his career. He is owed $3.5 million this season, and then $9.9 million in 2021 when/if the Jets pick up his fifth-year option.
Will he be traded? That remains to be seen. But we asked our experts where Adams would fit best in a trade, and whether the Jets could land a haul of draft picks in a hypothetical deal. And should Adams be the highest-paid safety in the NFL, as he desires? Our crew weighs in.
According to Adam Schefter, Adams would accept a trade to the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks. Which of those represents the best fit for him?
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Eagles. Adams would be an easy fit in Jim Schwartz's system, given his versatile traits. In Philadelphia, Adams would match to tight ends in coverage, spin down as a robber safety/underneath zone defender or pressure the quarterback in schemed-up blitzes.
Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Eagles. Philadelphia currently ranks among the league leaders in cap space and has a major need at safety following the offseason departure of Malcolm Jenkins. Linebacker and edge rush depth are also weak spots, which makes Adams' versatility very intriguing. The Eagles are also in need of guard help following Brandon Brooks' injury, so perhaps a deal including Adams and Brian Winters could be in the cards.
Dan Graziano, national NFL writer: Cowboys. Come on. He's from Texas, and he wants to play there. The Cowboys always seem to have a need at the position, and right now is no exception. It makes too much sense, though I still think he ends up signing with the Jets.
Aaron Schatz, editor of Football Outsiders: Eagles. Moving Jalen Mills to safety seems like a good idea, but let's make no mistake, Adams would be a major upgrade as a playmaker who could do everything Jenkins has done for the Eagles' defense in the past. And their weakness at linebacker makes them a team likely to mix in some three-safety packages.
Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: Ravens. Baltimore is always a good fit for veterans seeking a new direction, and it would know how to use Adams' skill set. Put him next to Earl Thomas III for a year for a Super Bowl push, and then let him anchor the defense for years to come after that.
Field Yates, NFL analyst: Cowboys. And this isn't simply acquiescing to Adams' affinity for Dallas. The Cowboys' two projected starting safeties are scheduled to be free agents next offseason, and Adams is a massive upgrade to their personnel. He fits in basically any defense, which makes the financial part of this equation that much more pertinent: Dallas -- even with a potential Dak Prescott mega-extension -- can make this work with its cap.
Would you trade two first-round picks for Adams?
Bowen: No. You simply can't give away high draft assets and sign Adams to a hefty contract extension. That's bad business in this league.
Clay: No. Trading away a pair of first-round picks means you intend to sign Adams to a pricey long-term extension. Though Adams is worth the hefty salary, that's A) cap space that can't be used on other positions, and a loss of a pair of first-round talents on reasonably priced, four-plus-year rookie contracts. The opportunity cost is simply too high.
Graziano: No. He's a great player, but where's the value in that? The Rams did it for Jalen Ramsey, who, as a shutdown cornerback, plays a far more valuable position. And the Jets still haven't signed him to an extension. Unless you can get the extension worked out before the trade is done, I think it's too risky to do this for a safety. And even if you can, I think it's too much to pay.
Schatz: No. This is the same problem as the Khalil Mack trade. You're essentially trading a bunch of draft value (future cost-controlled talent) so that you can give a player a market-level extension. If you give Adams the highest contract for a safety and he plays like the league's best safety, you still aren't getting a discount. You're getting what you paid for. And if he doesn't play that well, you're overpaying. And if you aren't giving him an extension, why is he trying to get out of New York in the first place?
Seifert: Nope, especially when he will also need a high-end contract extension. A lot of this is about leverage and positioning. The percentage of trades that end up including two first-round picks, relative to the number that initially produced such rumors, is pretty low.
Yates: Nope. Here's the deal: No team is simply Jamal Adams away from a guaranteed deep run in the playoffs. Football just doesn't work like that, save rare exceptions where a single player allows a team to propel to the next level. And if you're a team that isn't even staring down a likely playoff trip, it's a massive price to pay for what could wind up being a pair of lottery picks plus the extension Adams covets.
Should Adams be the highest-paid safety in the NFL?
Bowen: Adams is a disruptive defender who fits in multiple schemes. He's a guy you want to coach. While I would like to see more on-the-ball production from Adams -- he has only two interceptions in his three pro seasons -- he would most likely reset the safety market given his overall production and age (24).
Clay: Yes. It's tough to justify the assets it would take to trade for Adams, but it's not hard to argue that he's worth an extension that resets the market. He's 24 years old, never leaves the field and is as versatile as they come, contributing at a high (if not elite) level in coverage, as a run defender and even as the occasional pass-rusher.
Graziano: Well, no, but mainly because of timing. Can you argue that he's a good enough player to make the $14 million or so a year that guys like Landon Collins, Kevin Byard, Tyrann Mathieu and Eddie Jackson are making? Sure. But right now you have him for two more years at a total of $13.36 million. Unless he's willing to sit out and not play, what's his leverage? I don't see why he's trying to do a deal now when he'd be better off waiting at least one year and putting himself in a better starting position for negotiations.
Schatz: If not the top safety in the game, Adams at least has a legitimate claim to being one of the top five. And when a top-five guy hits free agency, he usually gets a position-record contract. The only question is whether you're willing to pay him now when he still has two years left on his rookie deal. If that's what it cost to add Adams to my defense, I would pay it. The bigger problem -- see the previous question -- is that adding Adams won't just cost money; it will also cost draft picks.
Seifert: Maybe for a minute. He is among a small group of players who would be considered the best safeties in the game. When he gets a new deal, it's possible the numbers will rank at the top of that list -- until the next guy eclipses it.
Yates: Assuming the metric we are looking at is new money per-year averages, then yes. Because if a team were to extend Adams at, say, $58 million for four years ($14.5M per year), he would be due less than $72 million over six seasons, a palatable average that is less than $12M for the full life of the contract.