RENTON — By the standards of NFL football, it didn’t really look like anything out of the ordinary when Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams lowered his left shoulder into a pile of players that included San Francisco receiver Jauan Jennings and teammate Ugo Amadi late in the second quarter Sunday.

“Just a routine play, you know what I mean?” said teammate Ryan Neal. “Just a routine play.”

But Adams came off the field immediately favoring his shoulder after helping bring down Jennings in Seattle’s 30-23 win over the 49ers, having suffered what was initially termed a sprained shoulder.

Wednesday, it was revealed the injury was far more serious, with Adams suffering a torn labrum and other damage that will require season-ending surgery. Adams is scheduled for surgery Thursday in his native Dallas.

The surgery is to the same shoulder that Adams also injured a year ago in the regular season finale against the 49ers. Adams had surgery following Seattle’s playoff loss to the Rams to repair a torn labrum.

That Adams is now having a second surgery on the same shoulder in roughly 11 months raises obvious questions about the future of a player who Seattle made the highest-paid safety in NFL history in August with an annual average of $17.5 million from 2022-25.


But coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday he has no long-term concerns about Adams.

“It wasn’t as bad as the last time from what I understand,” Carroll said.

As for suffering an injury to the same shoulder twice in a span of 11 months? Carroll said he didn’t think the two were related, saying, “No. He got hit in exactly the wrong spot and just unfortunate that it happened.”

Certainly, the Seahawks have a lot invested in hoping that Adams will be able to make a full and complete recovery from this injury and able to return to play in 2022, as the team expects.

Seattle acquired Adams in July 2020 from the New York Jets in a deal in which the Seahawks sent their first-round picks in 2021 and 2022 as well as a third-rounder in 2021 and safety Bradley McDougald for Adams and a fourth-round pick in 2022.

The first-round pick last year turned out to be 23rd overall. As of today, the 2022 pick would be sixth overall.


Seattle made the trade also knowing it would then have to agree to a long-term deal with Adams, whose New York career ended in acrimony after three seasons because he felt the Jets were not negotiating in good faith.

The deal Seattle ultimately gave Adams was heavily debated at the time, both because it blew away the safety market — Adams averages $1.5 million more per year than the next highest-paid safety, Harrison Smith of the Vikings — and whether Adams was worth it on his own merit, especially considering his unique style. Adams set an NFL record for defensive backs with 9.5 sacks last season but some have questioned his coverage ability.

Adams finishes the 2021 season with 87 tackles, third on the team, but no sacks, due in part to being used far less as a rusher, with the team instead using him more in a two-safety look as essentially a free safety. Adams rushed the passer just 51 times in 872 snaps this season, compared to 104 in 784 in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus.

And while listed as a strong safety, Adams has lined up at free safety more than any other position this year, 302 of his total snaps. That helped lead to Adams being in position to make two interceptions this season in the past four games compared to none in 2020.

That Adams now will have missed nine of a possible 33 regular-season games in two years with Seattle — he sat out four last season with a groin injury — will only further inflame the debate.

But to Carroll, there’s no disputing Adams’ value.

“There’s all of the fire that he brings and the explosive plays and big hits. He’s had a couple of picks,” Carroll said. “He’s been doing everything except we haven’t got him the sacks that we had a year ago. But other than that, he’s been playing really hard and tough and he’s got a lot of energy for us and been very positive.”


Adams missed only two games in his three seasons with the Jets, but now has dealt with two shoulder injuries as well as two dislocated fingers and elbow and groin injuries in his two seasons with the Seahawks.

“He was really emotional about it last night just because it means so much to him to keep playing and he’s been through this before and to have to go through it again, you know,” Carroll said.

Neal replaced Adams for the final 33 snaps of Sunday’s game and will now take over for Adams, sharing safety duties with Quandre Diggs.

Neal also filled in for Adams for four games last year and said that experience has him “more confident” in being able to step into a similar role this year.

Carroll said the Seahawks won’t have to adjust their defense with Neal replacing Adams — Neal has played both safety spots and cornerback in his NFL career.

But the Seahawks will have to adjust some of their personnel in the back end.


Neal had been playing regularly in the team’s six-defensive back dime package and the Seahawks will now have to find someone to use in that role if it wants to continue it (which isn’t a given since Seattle liked its dime package to get Neal on the field more).

Seattle now also has only three players listed as safeties on its roster — Diggs, Neal and Amadi.

Amadi, however, is the team’s starting nickel corner, as well.

Nigel Warrior, listed as a cornerback, could also be an option at safety — he had 38 starts in college at safety at Tennessee before being moved to cornerback in the NFL. He was claimed by Seattle off waivers from the Ravens in September. But Warrior has not played a defensive snap since being activated off IR on Nov. 27.

If Amadi were needed at safety, Seattle would need another nickel. John Reid and Bless Austin could each be options.

Seattle also could sign practice squad cornerback Gavin Heslop to the 53-man roster (he has no gameday elevations left) to add depth in the secondary. Heslop has also played nickelback.


Carroll also said the Seahawks could pursue outside options, and acknowledged that one possibility could be McDougald, who is a free agent after being released in September the week after he started at free safety for the Titans in a win over the Seahawks.

But Carroll indicated that for now, the Seahawks will go with what they have.

“There’s a couple things that we’re doing internally,” Carroll said. “Obviously we check the wire, we look about what other options there are and all that. But immediately, because our guys are in the meeting rooms with us, we’ve got to make our adjustments there.”