I’ve spent a lot of time between writing and podcasting talking about Jamal Adams contract situation with the Jets and just one week after saying that the situation looks like it’s going to be a problem, Adams has asked for a trade and here we are again talking about Adams. Neither side is blameless in this one but we are about to enter the real ugly side of things so the question is where do you go from here if you are the Jets.
The start of the major blowouts between the Jets and Adams started last year but I think you can trace Adams frustration to the Jets going back to 2018, his second year in the NFL. It’s no secret that the Jets have been mismanaged since 2013 and are only now hopeful that things will get better under Joe Douglas, but Adams first three years in the NFL have basically been playing under the construction of prior GM Mike Maccagnan. Here was a quote from Adams in 2018 as reported by Bob Glauber of Newsday.
“I’m [ticked] off. I’m [ticked] off,” safety Jamal Adams said Sunday after a 13-6 loss to the Dolphins dropped the Jets to 3-6. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m sick of losing. Honestly, I’m sick of losing. Enough is enough. I’m fed up with losing.”
Adams suggested his teammates ought to “look yourself in the mirror, man. Everybody. Everybody in this locker room. Look yourself in the mirror. I’m not going to hold my tongue for anything anymore. Enough is enough. I’m not a loser. I don’t do this for fantasy points or anything like that. I do this for the love of the game. I’m very passionate.
“I’m passionate about this team and I believe in this team. I go out there each and every day and play for this team. I’m just frustrated.”
Things got worse in 2019 first with a brief benching against the Browns and then during trade time when it came out the Jets were shopping him. Adams felt disrespected by the team and pretty much openly campaigned for a job with the Cowboys. The Jets reportedly were asking for a ransom of two first round picks which is the equivalent of saying we really don’t want to trade him but Adams was upset.
This is where I pin blame on the Jets for where they are now. Reportedly the Cowboys were willing to trade a 1 and 3 for Adams. That’s a major haul for a safety and once your safety is campaigning for the trade you have to realize that this has the possibility of getting bad. You have to know the pulse of your team and players and Adams was on a perennial loser and pretty much sick of it and has been vocal about it. If you pull the trigger on the trade you get what you get for Adams and simply talk to the fans about the big picture. It’s not a hard situation especially for a new GM that can work the narrative to blame the last GM for the failures. You get your draft picks and get rid of a potential headache. The team has stunk with Adams playing at a high level so it’s not like you are trading a player off a contender. However When you don’t pull the trigger you have to get things under control.
Rather than having a long term solution here Douglas opted to let Adams know how important he was to the team and started the conversation about how they wanted the Jets to be a team of players like Adams and how they wanted to address his contract after the draft. He doubled down on that this February
“Jamal is an unbelievable player. We’re excited about Jamal. The plan is for Jamal to be a Jet for life,…We’ve had some preliminary talks with his agent. I’m not going to get into the specifics of that. But the plan is for Jamal to be here a long time.”
Sometimes words can get twisted in the NFL and often players (and agents)hear things that they want to hear rather than what they are being told, but these quotes aren’t exactly misleading or open to interpretation. You said you wanted the player to be here for a long time. You said you wanted a team of Jamal Adams. You had recently signed an inside linebacker for $17 million a year. If you are sincere you have to make an offer around that figure. Based on what Adams has said no offer was really even presented.
There are plenty of reasons to not extend a player early and for the most part it’s very rare. For first round picks since 2011 only 17 players have been extended after their third year. Of those 17 players only five play defense- JJ Watt, Luke Kuechly, Robert Quinn, Patrick Peterson, and Whitney Mercilus (the Texans did not pick up his option but extended him shortly after declining it). The last of those contracts was signed in 2015. However if this is going to be your policy you can not say the things you said between last year’s trade deadline and this year’s combine.
All this did was make a situation get worse when all the Jets had to do in the first place was explain why they were looking to trade him, how the compensation should reflect how they feel about him, and extend the idea that they are happy he is here. Don’t make this about contracts if it’s not something you are going to offer. Was it a short term way to pacify the situation? I guess it was but all it does is fuel a fire and when you have a player with a short fuse what happens when you indicate you are going to do something and you don’t? He explodes. It makes you feel even worse about a team you don’t really want to be on.
That doesn’t mean Adams is blameless. The going on social media and basically openly campaigning for a trade and indicating that its time to move on isn’t exactly constructive. Adams laid out, per Adam Schefter, 7 teams he would be willing to be traded to– all teams considered Super Bowl contenders. That pretty much tells you that while the contract talk has added to things the goal here is to get out of New York. If the goal was money it would be “trade me to someone who wants to pay me” or threats of holding out and saying you don’t want to put your body on the line until you get paid what you are worth. Seemingly he really wants a better situation.
Before today I suggested that the Jets try to front him some of his 2021 salary if the concern was doing a contract now rather than next year, but that’s just another short term band aid and who knows how long it keeps things from getting bad. Maybe through the first three weeks of the year. Maybe a bit longer if the team plays better. But its destined to explode again.
An extension would probably be a disaster. Not because Adams isn’t deserving of one. Not because the Jets don’t have the cap room to do it. But simply because Adams isn’t happy. He’s not going to be happy and you don’t want to pay a bunch of extra money to a player just to have send him packing the next year. That’s what happened to the Giants with Odell Beckham. Neither side was really that thrilled with each other when they did that extension but they did it because they thought it was the best way to move forward and the Giants likely regretted that the next year.
What’s unfortunate is that the Jets have allowed a disgruntled player control the narrative for months about the team. Though Adams has hurt his standing with the fans in the last week or two with his outbursts for the last few months all the focus has been on the Jets as an organization and their approach to this contract. Now if they trade him it looks as if they were backed into a corner by a player and for a team trying to change it’s image they are really flailing.
That being said I can’t see how at this point the Jets can make this better. Maybe they can find a way to bury it for a few more months but the longer this goes on the more the trade value drops. Adams is due a roster bonus in early August and there is no need to pay that to delay what seems to be the inevitable.
The reality is this is not a contract dispute and the Jets cant let this be sold as a contract dispute while they wait figuring out what to do. A contract dispute is what is happening between the Vikings and Dalvin Cook. Dont let the narrative be that the Jets are cheap, ownership doesnt want to spend and focusing on cap space. If he doesnt want to be on the team a contract isnt going to change that.
Adams does not have any control over what the Jets do or do not do. They can trade him to any team in the NFL and they should aggressively shop him. They missed their window for them to get anything back this year on the field, but they can at least try to reclaim something out of this by working as many teams as possible. The Jaguars were able to do that to some extent last year with Jalen Ramsey and while I think two first round picks is a pipe dream getting a 1 and a 2 or even a 3 is something you can spin.
The most important thing is getting the best package back. If it comes from one of the teams that he wants to go to so be it, but use the next few weeks to make it sound like you are taking things back in your hands and do what should have been done months ago in formulating the way to sell the trade as to how you are improving a team that has been 16-32 since Adams was drafted.
However if they let this linger through the summer the odds are that it will end up making the team look bad in the long run and they will end up losing Adams for much less if they try to force this through the year. That would be the biggest mistake the Jets could make.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.