With Jamal Adams reportedly requesting a trade from the New York Jets, people are speculating over what it would take to land him. That question has two elements to it really. One has to do with the cost in draft picks/players that a team would have to give up for the Jets to make the trade. The second is the contract extension that Adams’ new team will eventually have to give him.
Adams reportedly has a list of teams he will go to without a contract extension being done previous to the trade (that list allegedly contains the Cowboys), but at some point his new team is going to have to pay him. No one is going to trade a lot of draft capital to rent a guy for a year or two. Plus, if a team makes no movement toward extending Adams, you can bet he will be just as unhappy then as he is now with the Jets.
With all that in mind, ESPN set about determining some parameters for a trade, including the best fit out of the seven teams he supposedly listed as his preference. Out of the six NFL observers they spoke with for the article, three of them see the Philadelphia Eagles as the best fit for Adams. Naturally that doesn’t sit well with Cowboys fans. The Eagels lost Malcolm Jenkins from an already weak secondary, so he would be a huge upgrade there. Two observers picked the Cowboys as the best fit. Here is one of the reasons:
Field Yates, NFL analyst: Cowboys. And this isn’t simply acquiescing to Adams’ affinity for Dallas. The Cowboys’ two projected starting safeties are scheduled to be free agents next offseason, and Adams is a massive upgrade to their personnel. He fits in basically any defense, which makes the financial part of this equation that much more pertinent: Dallas — even with a potential Dak Prescott mega-extension — can make this work with its cap.
The other participant chose the Ravens as the best fit.
Next up was what it would take to get Adams. This discussion was limited to one question - is Adams worth two first-round picks. The answer was unanimously no. The sentiment is that is two first-round picks is too much cost-controlled capital spent, especially at a position that is not viewed as one of the “money” spots.
[Mike Clay, fantasy writer]: No. Trading away a pair of first-round picks means you intend to sign Adams to a pricey, long-term extension. Though Adams is worth the hefty salary, that’s a) cap space that can’t be used on other positions, and b) a loss of a pair of first-round talents on reasonably-priced, four-plus-year rookie contracts. The opportunity cost is simply too high.
[Aaron Schatz, editor of Football Outsiders]: No. This is the same problem as the Khalil Mack trade. You’re essentially trading a bunch of draft value (future cost-controlled talent) so that you can give a player a market-level extension. If you give Adams the highest contract for a safety, and he plays like the league’s best safety, you still aren’t getting a discount. You’re getting what you paid for. And if he doesn’t play that well, you’re overpaying. And if you aren’t giving him an extension, why is he trying to get out of New York in the first place?
It’s hard to believe anyone would think that giving up two first-round picks for a safety, even one of Adams’ caliber, is a good idea. A more reasonable trade would be something along the lines of what the Cowboys reportedly tried before, a first-round pick and a player (Anthony Brown was the suggested player according to reports). Or, something like a first-rounder plus a day three pick.
The final question concerned compensation for Adams. No one thought the idea of making Adams the highest-paid safety in the league based on talent was out of line, but some did question doing it right away. Adams is due $3.5 million in 2020, plus $9.9 million in 2021 under a fifth-year option. This is the reason the Jets are holding firm, they have Adams under contract over the next two years at roughly a $6.7 million average per year. The top paid safety by average per year is Eddie Jackson at $14.6 million.
On talent and money, it doesn’t seem like many would balk.
Clay: Yes. It’s tough to justify the assets it would take to trade for Adams, but it’s not hard to argue that he’s worth an extension that resets the market. He’s 24 years old, never leaves the field and is as versatile as they come, contributing at a high (if not elite) level in coverage, as a run defender and even as the occasional pass-rusher.
But when you throw in the cost in draft picks, there is definitely some hesitation,
Schatz: If not the top safety in the game, Adams at least has a legitimate claim to being one of the top five. And when a top-five guy hits free agency, he usually gets a position-record contract. The only question is whether you’re willing to pay him now when he still has two years left on his rookie deal. If that’s what it cost to add Adams to my defense, I would pay it. The bigger problem — see the previous question — is that adding Adams won’t just cost money; it will also cost draft picks.
So BTB, what would you give up for Adams, how much would you give him in a contract, and when would you give him that contract?