After a seven-month contract dispute, the New York Jets agreed to trade All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks for a package that includes first-round draft picks in each of the next two years.
The Seahawks will send safety Bradley McDougald, first-round picks in 2021 and 2022 and a third-round pick in 2021 to New York in exchange for Adams and the Jets’ fourth-round pick in 2022. The deal is pending physicals.
The move came one month after Adams formally requested a trade. For months, the Jets had no intention of trading him, sources said, but general manager Joe Douglas did an about-face.
Adams, 24, made it clear he wanted no part of the Jets, using social media to criticize the team and to say goodbye to teammates. In recent days, he attacked coach Adam Gase in a newspaper interview and owner Woody Johnson on Twitter. Team officials were infuriated by his behavior, sources said, creating acrimony between the two sides.
Frustrated by a lack of progress in talks, Adams submitted a list to the Jets on June 18 of seven preferred trade destinations. At the time, the Jets did not grant Adams’ agents permission to seek a trade.
“Yes, I want Jamal on our team,” coach Adam Gase said in late June, a week after the trade request.
The Jets refused to budge on a contract extension because Adams is signed through 2021, not counting a potential franchise tag in 2022. Sources say his goal is to surpass the Chicago Bears’ Eddie Jackson ($14.6 million per year) as the league’s highest-paid safety. Adams currently averages $5.6 million on his rookie deal.
The Adams-Jets relationship dissolved quickly. On Jan. 27, Adams tweeted, “I want to be in New York!” In the same tweet, he said he expected an extension before the start of the season. Less than four months later, the two sides were at odds.
Publicly, Douglas praised Adams at every turn, saying he wants to make him “a Jet for life.” But at no point did the GM give a timetable on an extension. He postponed talks until after the draft, and those discussions were not productive, a source said.
The Adams camp was frustrated by what it perceived as broken promises and a lack of communication by the Jets, prompting the trade request, sources said.
In reality, Adams’ relationship with management has been strained since last fall, when word leaked the Jets had entertained trade offers from the Dallas Cowboys.
The outspoken Adams said he felt betrayed by Douglas, who was hired last June and didn’t draft Adams. At the same time, Adams told friends he wanted to be dealt to the Cowboys, sources said. He grew up in the Dallas area.
Adams didn’t speak to Douglas and Gase for about a week after the trading-deadline controversy. The Jets were in damage control, insisting they never gave serious thought to trading him. The two sides eventually settled their differences, with Adams proclaiming he wanted to be part of their long-term future.
The Jets will miss Adams on defense. In addition to McDougald, who has played at both strong and free safety in his career, the Jets also have veteran strong safety Matthias Farley, a former Indianapolis Colts starter who played on special teams last season for the Jets. Marcus Maye is the free safety.
Adams was their most dynamic player, a fiery leader who made two Pro Bowls in his first three seasons. Since entering the league in 2017, he ranks in the top five in defensive snaps, tackles, sacks and forced fumbles among defensive backs. He’s first in sacks (12) and tied for second in forced fumbles (six).
“I think the world of him,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said on June 25. “I’ve had a chance to coach a lot of really good players, some already in the Hall of Fame, many others who are going to go in the Hall of Fame. He’s going to have a legitimate chance, staying healthy, to be one of those guys that we’re all talking about.”
The knock on Adams is that he’s not a ballhawk — only two career interceptions. While the Jets valued him as a tremendous “box” safety — an “unbelievable player,” Douglas said — they didn’t see him as an all-around force and didn’t want to dole out a market-setting contract.