Thoughts on the Jamal Adams Trade07.26.20
This was a tough but expertly executed trade. Up until things went off the rails, Adams was a model teammate on and off the field. I loved watching him and he a true difference maker. Come playoff time Hawks fans will tune in as they’re introducing the players and think, “Man, I sure am glad we get to roll him out.”
1. How good is Jamal Adams really?
He’s 24 and already has been 1st team All-Pro. Not Pro Bowl. All-Pro. FIRST TEAM. Also, check out this terrific video from Brett Kollmann on just how smart Adams is. [link]
2. What went wrong?
The Jet beat writers (Cimini for ESPN and Connor Hughes for The Athletic) — seem to largely put this on Adams. The main critique being that even if his complaints about Gase (and Joe Douglas and Woody Johnson) are true — this wasn’t true in January when he seemed like a happy camper and wouldn’t be true if the Jets gave him an extension.
Maybe. BUT, I do think the Manish Mehta Daily News article that seemed to accelerate things (maybe or maybe not — maybe it was the clarity on the 2020-2021 salary cap that really accelerated things) may be a closer reflection to what actually happend. [link]
Now it’s obvious that this article is written from Adams’ perspective and I suspect that a lot of the ways things went wrong is not because Joe Douglas lies or was trying to do something malicious — but perhaps it was simply not stellar communication.
My impression of Douglas so far is he’s a very straight shooter, even keeled — but maybe some things happened that were a bit out of his control. Maybe he got out a little in front of an Adams extension, maybe the Johnsons got cold feet as the pandemic hit, maybe he got annoyed when Adams started agitating. I don’t know. I do believe Adams when he says he would’ve respected it if Douglas basically said he wasn’t going to extend him upfront. Would he have still acted out? Maybe. But if Adams was told (on more than one occasion) to expect an offer and then the Jets walk that back without good communication — would I expect Adams to be ticked off in that case? Absolutely.
3. Ashtyn Davis
Davis was surprisingly available in the 3rd round when the Jets scooped him up with the 68th pick. (a pick that, unbelievably, came from the Giants in the preposterous Leonard Williams trade) This didn’t seem like a big deal at the time (the Jets taking a safety when they’ve had problems with Adams) b/c it seemed like the Jets and Adams were ok. But I definitely noted it.
Davis is really good, very versatile, and a lot of folks are super high on him — I wouldn’t be surprised if there are folks out there that had a 1st round grade on Davis.
I don’t think Joe Douglas picked up Davis as insurance in case he had to move on Adams (especially note him getting McDougald back) — I think Davis was just really excellent value and a player like that that can play all over the field is super useful. That being said, was insurance 10-20% of the reason? Maybe.
4. Was this a good trade for the Jets?
Unfortunately, yes. This was an excellent trade for the Jets. In terms of return — if the Jets got back, say, a 1st and a 4th (what the Cowboys were rumored to have offered) or 2 2nds — it’s simply not enough. (though, fascinatingly, the 1st round pick Dallas had on the table was their 2020 17th pick which, incredibly, became CeeDee Lamb -- if Dallas, and they wouldn't, put Lamb + a 4th on the table, would the Jets take that deal over Seattle? I don't know -- but it's an interesting thought experiment.)
Here’s the question, though, of why those earlier deals aren't enough.
Adams was the 6th overall pick. So let’s say a late 1st round pick is on the table (Seattle; let’s say between 25-30). What does it take to move up from 25-30 all the way to 6? It’d take more than a first. Look at the Mahomes (27 to 10) or Davenport (27 to 14) draft deals. Let’s say 2 1sts would get you to 10 — what more do you need to get to 6? Maybe the 4/3 swap is worth… a 5th? McDougald, a solid to good starter on the last year of his deal is worth… a 5th? (maybe a little less?) Would 2 5s be enough in a draft to move from 10 to 6? I don’t think so — it depends of course on the year, who’s on the board, what teams are involved, etc. — but my gut tells me that 10 to 6 in most years is probably about a 3 and a 5.
But all that being said, moving up to 6 is to get the chance to get a great player. Adams is already a great player — so you’re taking that risk off the table. Which is a huge risk. Just look at the previous 5ht to 7th overall picks from the past 10 years and see how many hit / how many are on a Hall of Fame trajectory.
However, of course, Adams just finished the 3rd year of his rookie deal — assuming the Seahawks have to extend him now (or, worse case, after next year) — they’ll no longer get the benefit of his rookie deal and instead be paying him around $17-18mm/year or so.
But in terms of practicality of what the league is offering / would offer — how would I grade what Douglas got in return? Excellent.
The second component of this — and I think it’s a key and often very overlooked component — is that Joe Douglas made this deal and the person who will get to execute those picks is… Joe Douglas. Now, he’s only had one draft under his belt, but from my vantage point, it was an absolute home run. Not only the actual player evaluation / picks — but the discipline and the extremely smart trade downs. He’s really good at extracting full value, and in my estimation, also evaluating talent. This may seem obvious — but if it was Maccagnan or Idzik getting this haul, I would barely be happy about it at all as I wouldn’t trust them to get good players and frankly, would rather stick with players I already knew were good.
But if you sum it all up, Douglas not only got 2 1s, a 4/3 swap, a solid to good starter making $3.5mm — he’s likely not paying Adams $17-18mm/year — so he has that additional difference ($14mm) to spend on other players. Maybe there are some very specific instances where it’d make the sense to hold onto Adams, but in almost every case, it makes sense to make this deal.
I’ll miss Jamal Adams. He was an excellent player and I’m sorry things went sideways. He is, without a doubt though, in a much better position for himself — financially, team-wise, and his career. The Jets though — are now particularly well positioned for the future. They’ve got a lot of good young talent for the future, an excellent GM, a questionable coach — but if they’re able to start stacking good drafts on top of each other, they’ll steadily rise in the NFL.