RENTON — The Seahawks and star safety Jamal Adams remained locked in a $70 million staring contest Wednesday, each holding firm on their “final” offer put forth late last week, daring the other to blink.
When training camp began two weeks ago, the two sides were roughly $4 million apart in annual compensation for Adams, sources told The Seattle Times.
After back-and forth negotiations over the next week, they were close to a meet-in-the-middle agreement.
On Friday, the Seahawks made what they labeled their final offer: $17.5 million in total annual compensation on a four-year contract, with roughly $38 million guaranteed, a deal that would make Adams the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
The average per year, though, also would be just below the $18 million of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, a key consideration for the Seahawks in leaving the 10-year veteran and longtime defensive captain as the highest-paid defensive player on the team.
Adams’ representatives seemed amenable to that salary package and then countered with what they saw as a reasonable request: $40 million in guarantees, $2 million more than the Seahawks’ offer.
Adams’ camp also wanted to move bonus money into the first three years of the contract; the Seahawks prefer to spread it over all four years.
The Seahawks, a source said, are “not budging” on their offer.
And Adams, 25, has made it clear he will not play until his new deal is signed, even as he is “champing at the bit” to practice with the team, another source said. Adams has remained active and engaged in team meetings throughout camp.
The two sides have not engaged in negotiations since Friday, and each appears willing to wait out the other until deep into training camp.
Before arriving in Seattle a year ago, Adams was New York tabloid-headline fodder for much of his final two seasons playing for the Jets — drama he believed he had to manufacture to force his way out of a “dysfunctional” organization, a source said.
It worked. The Seahawks traded a massive haul — two first-round picks, a third-round pick and a starting safety — to the Jets for Adams, one of the NFL’s most versatile defenders and a first-team All-Pro in 2019.
Because the Seahawks gave up so much to get Adams, the general thinking coming into training camp this year was the player had the leverage in these negotiations. And Adams, it appears, is trying to use every ounce of that leverage. Even still, most figured a deal would get done, and both sides had hoped to have that deal done by now.
And while general perception might exist that Adams has the leverage, NFL rules give Seattle some ability to play hardball.
Specifically, each side knows the Seahawks could use the franchise tag on Adams in each of the next two years. According to OvertheCap.com, the franchise tag for safeties in 2022 is projected to be $12.4 million.
Seattle could again slap the tag on Adams in 2023 for what is projected to be somewhere in the $15 million range.
That means Seattle essentially holds the rights to Adams for the next three years at what would be a total of about $37-38 million (a total that also is in line with what the Seahawks are offering Adams in guaranteed money).
Adams could then become a free agent in 2024 at the age of 28 after having played four seasons for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks have been reluctant to use the franchise tag, having done so only twice since 2010, and once solely so they could retain the rights to Frank Clark while working out a trade.
But Adams is a unique case, and the team could see it as a viable option.
Adams would undoubtedly chafe at the idea of playing year-to-year, which is why the general assumption is that this would get resolved before the tag would come into play. Still, it’s something the Seahawks can use in negotiations as something they could realistically enact.
And while Adams has been “holding in’’ — he reported for camp July 27 but has not been participating in on-field workouts — NFL rules would essentially force Adams to play this year or not only risk losing his $9.8 million salary for this season but also having his contract toll, meaning the season would not count toward free agency.
Specifically, since Adams has reported to camp, if he were to later leave, the Seahawks can send him what is termed a “five-day letter,’’ which informs him that he can be placed on the reserve/left squad list if he doesn’t return.
Going on the list not only ends a player’s season but also prevents him from playing on another team even if traded, and also means the contract tolls.
By reporting to camp, Adams avoided the possibility of being fined up to $40,000 a day, the amount teams can fine players who are still on rookie contracts. A 2020 change in the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement states teams can no longer waive the fines, as was often the case in the past, essentially forcing players to show up.
Adams, a source said, had wanted to avoid this kind of drama in Seattle.
At every turn in his first season here, Adams gushed about the Seahawks.
Carroll, in turn, was effusive in his praise of his newest playmaker, who led the team with 9 1/2 sacks, an NFL record for a defensive back, even while Adams missed a month because of a shoulder injury.
Adams had shoulder surgery in the offseason and procedures on two broken fingers, but he is 100% healthy now, a source said.