A day after Jamal Adams officially signed a four-year contract extension with the Seahawks, keeping him with the team through 2025, the full details were revealed.
Here are five things to know about the deal.
The cap hit is minimal for 2021
As has been the case for every significant extension the Seahawks have negotiated in recent years, the deal was structured to bring down the cap hit of the immediate season of the contract.
Adams was due to get a $9.86 million base salary in 2021. But with Adams getting a $20 million signing bonus, his salary for 2021 was reduced to $1 million, which is also fully guaranteed, according to details revealed by Pro Football Talk. That makes $21 million fully guaranteed at signing, a trade-off that is a win-win for both sides — Adams immediately gets more than double the money he was due in 2021 while the Seahawks can then prorate the bonus over the life of the contract to lower the cap hit for this season.
Specifically, the prorating of that bonus and the salary (the two things that determine the cap) allows for the cap hit to be reduced to $5 million for the 2021 season — $4.86 million less than it had been.
That, in turn, increased Seattle’s cap space for the 2021 season from roughly $8 million before the deal being signed to $13.058 million afterward, according to OvertheCap.com.
But don’t expect Seattle to spend that money immediately
The obvious thought after hearing Seattle increased its cap space by roughly 37% is to wonder if that means the Seahawks will now sign Duane Brown to an extension or re-sign K.J. Wright.
The answer is probably not.
All indications are that cap space has not been the deciding factor with either player. With Brown, it’s simply whether the Seahawks want to commit money in the future to a player who will be 37 next August. Sources say the Seahawks want to wait until after the season and reassess things with Brown.
With Wright, the issue is that the Seahawks want to go with younger players at the two positions he played last season — Jordyn Brooks at weakside linebacker and Darrell Taylor on the strongside. Re-signing Wright blocks playing time for either or both, and neither Wright nor the Seahawks likely want to bring him back as a minimum salary backup.
More likely, Seattle views the added cap space as an ability to be more flexible and aggressive if needs arise as training camp continues and the season unfolds, such as if a veteran from another team becomes unexpectedly available.
The 2022 cap hit is also pretty low
As revealed by PFT, Adams also has a $12.44 million option bonus that is guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the waiver period after the 2022 Super Bowl.
That bonus is prorated through the final four years of the contract along with the rest of the initial $20 million bonus. And that also allows the team to keep Adams’ base salary low in 2022 — just $2 million, which is also fully guaranteed for injury at signing and becomes guaranteed on the fifth day of the waiver period following the Super Bowl. That means Adams has a cap hit of $9.1 million in 2022.
That was important for the Seahawks since it remains unclear exactly how much the cap will jump in 2022, with some uncertainty over how league revenues will be impacted in 2021 by COVID-19. Players receive roughly 48% of league revenues.
OvertheCap.com lists Seattle as now having just over $37 million in cap space in 2022. But that’s based on the projected cap ceiling of just over $208 million. Since that number could decrease, financially smart teams are being careful with future spending.
Adams’ base salaries increase markedly in the last three years of the contract to $11 million, $16.5 million and $17.5 million, respectively. Of those salaries, only $2.56 million in 2023 is guaranteed (and adding up the bonuses and the guaranteed salaries is how you arrive at the $38 million guaranteed figure).
The guarantees and dead money hits virtually assure Adams will be on the roster through 2024.
But as is typical, the contract’s dead money hits are front loaded and possible salary cap savings are back loaded. In the final year of the deal, Adams’ $17.5 million salary is not guaranteed and would be fully saved against the cap if he were released with a dead money hit (meaning, money Seattle has to account for against the cap no matter what happens) of $7.1 million. That means that, logically, the two sides will be back at the negotiating table following the 2024 season.
There are some incentives
The deal also includes $2.75 million in incentives and escalators, according to PFT, which includes $250,000 in 2022 through 2025 if he gets three interceptions and five sacks. And as PFT detailed, “Another $1.75 million is available in 2024 and 2025 escalators, with $250,000 tied to each year that he makes the Pro Bowl and the team qualifies for the conference championship.”
As PFT further noted, adding the incentives and wrapping in the 2021 season makes it essentially a five-year deal worth $80.44 million, or just over $16 million per year.
And Seattle kept key numbers below Bobby Wagner’s
The Seahawks wanted to keep Adams’ deal just below that of Wagner, who is the team’s highest-paid defender at $18 million per season through 2022, and also the second-highest paid player in team history behind Russell Wilson, who averages $35 million on his current deal. (Adams is now the third highest.)
As was reported immediately, Adams’ deal averages $17.5 million over the four new years of the deal, just shy of Wagner’s, when not including incentives.
But basically every other key metric also came in just under Wagner’s, such as money fully guaranteed at signing (Wagner’s $24 million to Adams’ $21 million), and as Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com noted, two-year cash (Wagner’s $37.4 million to $36 million for Adams) and three-year cash (Wagner’s $54 million to Adams’ $52.5 million).
Ultimately, the details reveal that each side appeared to get what they wanted — Adams to be the highest-paid safety in NFL history and a huge immediate payday, and Seattle to keep the contract in line with its overall philosophy and get some immediate cap relief and flexibility down the road.