Analysis: Revisiting Seahawks Blockbuster Trade For Jamal Adams 2 Years Later
Desperately trying to add star power to their defense during a championship window, they rolled the dice and traded two first-round picks and one third-round pick to get star safety Jamal Adams to the Jets before the 2020season began.
The trade received mixed reviews from analysts and experts at the time. On one hand, Seattle landed a 25-year old defensive Swiss army knife who had earned All-Pro honors in two of his first three seasons. Such a player likely wasn’t going to be available to select in the back third of the first round after another playoff appearance and with the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacting the scouting process, general manager John Schneider voluntarily opted out of the 2021 NFL Draft in exchange for proven talent.
But many were skeptical of Seattle’s decision not to trade a large amount of draft capital that would have been reserved for trading for a quarterback, a pass rusher, or to acquire a safety. The Jets received a king’s ransom. However, the team did not negotiate an extension. This created unnecessary drama as Adams entered the final year in his rookie contract seeking a record-breaking extension.
Nearly two years ago, Schneider pulled the trigger on Adams’s move to the Pacific Northwest. The 2022 NFL Draft concluded and the trade between the Seahawks & Jets was finally completed. While critics will continue to focus on the deal from Seattle’s point of view, the final terms of the trade don’t seem to suggest that it was a one-sided deal like many experts and fans believe.
Since the terms of the agreement, Schneider was allowed to send three premium picks to New York. However, only two selections were made. The 2021 NFL Draft saw Joe Douglas, Jets general manager, package the first and third-round selections from the Seahawks to make it to No. 14 to select USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. The other first-round selection was used on Thursday to select Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson at No. 10 overall.
In Seattle, Schneider ended up with the same number players as before the trade. Adams was the obvious center and the fourth-rounder acquired in the deal for Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant. Bryant is the reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner.
Although Adams has been inconsistent and has suffered injuries his first two seasons with Seattle, he has still been an impact player when he is healthy. He broke the NFL’s sack record for defensive backs in just 12 games in 2020, bypassing former Cardinals star Adrian Wilson with 9.5 sacks and earning Second-Team All-Pro recognition. While he did not post any sacks last season with far fewer rushing chances, he did pick off a pair in three games before suffering a season ending labrum tear. This was a major step forward in coverage.
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Still only 26 years old, Adams’ best football may yet be in front of him, especially with the promotion of Clint Hurtt to defensive coordinator and the arrival of associate head coach Sean Desai. The coaching staff hopes that Adams can remain healthy and maximize his unique skill set within an aggressive 3-4 system with more nickel-and-dime sets, which allows him to play close to the line of scrimmage.
Bryant, who has been a cornerback for four years at Cincinnati will be joining the 2022 draft class as one of the most polished and high-floor prospects. Although Bryant has some physical limitations that could limit his upside in the long-term, his ball skills, instincts, and tackling skills will allow him to compete against Tre Brown and Artie Burns to get playing time in Seattle’s secondary.
Both teams have a lot of “what-ifs” to consider when deciding who will win the trade. The Seahawks won’t be able to get Adams the production they need to justify the draft picks and the $70million contract they paid him. Schneider would be more satisfied if Bryant is a solid starter in their league or a valuable contributor to special teams.
Vera-Tucker was a good run blocker in his first season with New York. However, he had to deal with many difficulties protecting Joe Flacco, Mike White and Zach Wilson. While Pro Football Focus only charged him with two sacks allowed, he did surrender 42 quarterback pressures and committed five penalties, receiving a 56.9 pass protection grade for the season on 1,027 offensive snaps. He won’t be able to make a significant step towards becoming a Pro Bowl Guard if he doesn’t.
The ex-Buckeyes star brings speed, quickness and yards after the catch proficiency to the equation. He should quickly emerge as Zach Wilson’s favorite target from the outside. His production will depend on his development as a signal caller. Only time will tell if the young signal-caller can become a true No. 1 receiver worthy of a top-10 selection. It’s doubtful that he will reach his full potential given the Jets track record at this position.
Seattle’s perspective is a different one. If Schneider wouldn’t have made the trade for Adams and the team still had its own first-round pick, he could have doubled up on blue chip talent in the top-10. Perhaps the first-round pick that Schneider gave up last year could have been used to acquire an impact offensive lineman, or pass rusher, which could have helped the team keep in the playoff hunt. And perhaps quarterback Russell Wilson wouldn’t be in Denver right this moment.
But, as with any major move in the NFL, hypothetical scenarios are not as important as the facts. It is difficult to speculate on how things might have turned out without the trade. There are so many variables.
Keeping this in mind, the Jets draft in Vera-Tucker, Wilson and Adams in the current trade. It looks like a decent haul considering how lopsided it initially looked from a draft capital perspective. In a few years, we will have a better picture of who won this trade.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.