Jamal Adams’ first season in Seattle has unfolded far differently than planned, even setting aside the COVID-19 pandemic.
After missing just two games in three NFL seasons with the Jets — he played every snap in 2018 — Adams has dealt with two significant injuries that caused him to sit out four games this season. He played several others with only one arm functioning well.
And as a heralded newcomer who came to Seattle at a high price — first-round draft picks in 2021 and 2022 and safety Bradley McDougald — Adams’ play has been scrutinized heavily, and at times harshly. The Seahawks’ defense for much of the season has been on pace to set NFL records in total yards and passing yards allowed.
But on Friday, as he met the media for roughly 20 minutes via Zoom two days before facing his former teammates at Lumen Field, Adams proclaimed that he is “beyond happy” with the Seahawks and in Seattle.
“I’m happy to be a part of an organization that values me and respects me for who I am on and off the field,” Adams said. “And they’ve given me a chance to be myself, and they always support me whether it’s wrong, right — and they’ll tell me if I’m wrong. So at the end of the day, man, I’m just happy to be here.”
Adams, of course, has motivation to paint the best possible picture of his time as a Seahawk after he essentially forced his way out of New York. He reportedly made a trade request in June because of the Jets’ unwillingness to give him a new contract — his rookie deal goes through the 2021 season.
“I had to do what I had to do to get out of my situation,” Adams said of the trade. “… The guys that make the decisions over there, they just didn’t value me like Seattle does, and I appreciate that. There’s no hard feelings toward them. They had different views. I had a different view.”
Adam mostly resisted attempts to get him to criticize his former team, instead saying he has “nothing but love for the Jets organization.” When asked if he was surprised that New York is winless this season he answered, “I’m not going to answer that one.”
Adams also seemed to throw an olive branch toward Jets coach Adam Gase, who he had criticized shortly before the trade, quoted by the New York Daily News as saying: “I don’t feel like he’s the right leader for this organization to reach the Promised Land.”
On Friday Adams said: “We had a solid relationship. I don’t hate Adam Gase. You know, I don’t hate Adam Gase. I have no problem with Adam Gase. I just didn’t feel he handled certain situations well as a head coach, and that’s just my opinion. Everybody is entitled to their opinion.”
But after spending most of the 20 minutes trying to downplay that Sunday’s game will have extra meaning, he finally acknowledged, “Don’t get me wrong, I would be lying if I said, ‘Wow I’m not excited, or I’m about to play my old team.’ Of course, right? But it’s an even-keel mindset, like I’m not trying to make this about me.”
Inevitably, Adams will get much of the attention Sunday, not only to see how he reacts against his former team but because he has a chance to make NFL history. He needs one sack to surpass the record for most sacks in a season by a defensive back. Adams has 7.5, behind only the eight of the Cardinals’ Adrian Wilson in 2005.
“Obviously we’re playing against the Jets, and that’s my former team,” Adams said. “Will it be sweet (to get the record against the Jets?). Yes, of course. But at the end of the day I’m going out there to, you know, continue to do my job.”
That he can get the record caused Pete Carroll to remind everyone that Adams is “on pace to be the sackingest DB ever” despite missing a third of the season.
Carroll said the injuries have slowed Adams’ development in the Seahawks’ defense. In practice Friday Adams picked up that a play call meant he had to make an adjustment, Carroll noted.
“He looked at me and said, ‘I’m getting it. I’m getting it,’ ” Carroll said.
Adams said “it’s gonna get scary” when he is fully versed on the defense and everyone gets healthy.
The 25-year-old also hopes he has found a long-term NFL home.
The Seahawks are expected to begin negotiations on a new contract with Adams after the season, one that could pay him around $16 million annually and make him the NFL’s highest-paid safety. Arizona’s Budda Baker, formerly of UW and Bellevue High School, holds that title at $14.7 million.
On Friday, Adams spoke candidly of having dealt with depression in New York and said he had to fight it off this year when he suffered two injuries — a groin against Dallas on Sept. 27 that cost him four games and a shoulder against the Rams on Nov. 8 that he has played through.
He credited the Seahawks for helping him navigate the tough times, making clear he thinks Seattle is the best place for him professionally and personally.
“Those injuries really took a toll on me, because it never happened before,” he said. “And at the end of the day I was down on myself about it. But it really changed my life for the better. And I couldn’t have done it with, not only my family, but the guys in the building, the ladies as well, just helping me out, keeping me calm and talking to me, letting me express my feelings.
“Because I think that’s what it’s about when you can express your feelings and get it off your chest, have other people see where you’re coming from. That’s where you can have clarity.”