You’ve just discovered the oddest piece of technology in history. It’s a time machine, but it can send you back to only one specific date and one specific location.
The date is July 25, 2020 — the day the Seahawks traded for safety Jamal Adams. The place is wherever Seahawks general manager John Schneider was before he pulled the trigger on the deal.
You, the ultimate 12, could warp back to last summer and prevent Schneider from going through with it. But would you? Or are you content with that transaction?
The Seahawks’ acquisition of Adams from the Jets was a clear “win now” gamble. They gave New York two first-round draft picks, a third-round pick and starting safety Bradley McDougald to get him.
As far as steep prices go, this was a Himalaya. Which is a big reason Seattle’s first-round playoff exit seemed like a colossal failure.
Yes, the Seahawks won the NFC West, a notable achievement in any season. And despite playing just 12 games, Adams racked up 9.5 sacks — the most ever by a defensive back.
But you have to wonder if Seattle’s brass feels as good about the trade now as it did at the end of the regular season. Because they almost certainly have to keep the 25-year-old, and doing so won’t be cheap.
Adams is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, which will pay him just under $10 million next season. The Seahawks, however, will likely extend his contract before the season begins.
It’s virtually impossible to justify the haul Seattle gave the Jets for Jamal without keeping him long term. But will it be worth the cost?
Adams, after all, isn’t your typical safety. His ability to get to the quarterback — the most coveted trait a defensive player can have — is unrivaled at his position.
So simply making him the NFL’s highest-paid safety (something around $16 million a year would achieve) might not be enough to satisfy him. The market — not to mention his leverage over the Seahawks given what they sacrificed to get him — could very well increase his annual salary by a couple more million dollars.
If you go solely on the spectacular plays, such a price seems justified. His touchdown-saving tackle on Rams running back Darrell Henderson was a feat only a handful of players in the league could have pulled off. And to play just three quarters of the season and still tally 1.5 more sacks than any other defensive back in history? Still hard to believe.
But what about the ordinary plays? What about the snaps that didn’t put him on the highlight reel?
Analytics site Pro Football Focus breaks down a player’s every play and hands out grades in various categories. Unsurprisingly, PFF ranked Adams as the top pass-rushing safety in the NFL last season. But of the 94 safeties it studied, PFF rated Adams as the 78th-best on pass defense (he allowed a 121.7 passer rating), 57th on run defense (he missed 11 tackles) and 53rd overall.
Pro Football Focus isn’t the ultimate authority when it comes to talent evaluation, but it is credible enough for those numbers to be concerning.
Granted, it is entirely possible, if not probable, that Adams’ two broken fingers hampered his ability to defend the pass. There were squandered interception opportunities that may have turned out differently if he had 10 healthy digits. He also had to shake off rust after missing four games because of a groin injury, and he suffered two shoulder injuries several weeks apart. In short — there is no simple way to judge his season.
We know that, shortly after Adams returned in Week 9, the once-maligned Seahawks defense began to turn around. But we also know that Seattle’s acquisition of defensive end Carlos Dunlap contributed to that midseason about-face. It’s impossible to say Adams wasn’t a factor in the Seahawks’ defensive resurgence. The question is — how much?
A similar question can be asked in regard to Adams’ contributions going forward. No doubt that Jamal is one of the most talented defensive backs in the NFL, but would he be worth the massive extension he is almost sure to receive? Will he end up justifying those departed draft picks? We’ll see.
It might be fun to think about what you’d do if you could go back in time and talk to Schneider. In reality, the Seahawks went all-in with Adams — and now there’s no going back.