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How the Jamal Adams Contract Standoff Reached a Trade Demand

As the public contract dispute has escalated to a trade demand, here is how the New York Jets and superstar safety Jamal Adams got to such a breaking point.
Jamal Adams

Over the past decade, the New York Jets have only made the playoffs once and only finished with a winning record twice. Three general managers and three coaches all tried and ultimately failed to establish a long-term winning culture for the franchise. While general manager Joe Douglas has the faith of many, some are growing restless. Specifically, star safety Jamal Adams. After months of public back-and-forth, Adams formally requested a trade Thursday morning. So how exactly did it escalate to this?

How the Jamal Adams Contract Standoff Reached a Trade Demand

The Draft

Entering the 2017 NFL Draft, the New York Jets needed to capitalize. After a quick rebuild led them to a promising 10-6 campaign in 2015, everything fell apart in 2016. Injuries and locker room drama plagued the team as they went 5-11. Head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan finally decided to attempt a rebuild the right way.

It began with selecting safety Jamal Adams out of LSU with the sixth overall pick. The 6’1” and 213-pound strong safety was regarded as a well-rounded, physical player who can lineup anywhere on the field. With his playmaking ability, it was rather surprising for Adams to slide to sixth. Either way, the Jets could not have foreseen a better outcome of the first round.

Rise to Stardom

From the moment Adams joined the green and white, he made his presence felt. He was quickly recognized as a vocal leader on the field and respected by his teammates in the locker room. With fellow rookie Marcus Maye, not only did they give the Jets a promising safety tandem, but one that helped the Jets rebuild their culture.

In his rookie season, Adams started all 16 games, registering 83 total tackles with 9.0 for loss, six deflections, and two fumble recoveries. While he struggled at times in coverage, he held his own finishing with a 68.5 grade from Pro Football Focus. When it came out he did not make the Pro Bowl, Adams quickly responded via Twitter saying “I won’t miss another Pro Bowl. Believe that.”

And he was right. In 2018, Adams was on another level compared to his rookie year. His coverage skills were not only consistent but phenomenal with 12 deflections and his first career interceptions. He got after the quarterback often when playing in the box with 3.5 sacks on eight quarterback hits. Adams also finished with three forced fumbles and 115 total tackles. At just 23 years old, he made his first Pro Bowl and even won defensive MVP. Just like that, after two seasons, Adams was regarded as one of the best safeties in the game.

Change of Management

Following a 4-12 record in 2018, the Jets fired Bowles, replacing him with the offensive-minded former Miami Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase. Following the draft, the Jets infamously let Maccagnan go, to replace him with Joe Douglas. Entering the 2019 season, the Jets were very optimistic about making the playoffs. Second-year quarterback Sam Darnold is joined on offense by newly-signed star running back Le’Veon Bell. Whereas on defense the Jets added four-time Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley to join Adams on defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense. Entering his third season, Adams looked to lead the Jets’ first winning season in four years.

Deadline Drama

That playoff optimism quickly faded to the tune of a 1-6 start. Injuries and poor quarterback play without Darnold led the promise around the team to disappear entirely. Fans called for Gase to be fired, and by the trade deadline, it seemed the Jets were destined for another rebuild. Shocking reports arose the day of the deadline that the Jets might look to trade their big names, Adams being the biggest. Joe Douglas was hired after free agency and the draft and had yet to truly retool the team his own way. Sitting at 1-6 with an injury-plagued team, Douglas was in no position to ignore calls once so ever.

Meanwhile, Adams was as surprised as anyone over the rumors. He was playing even better than in 2018, destined for his first All-Pro appearance. Adams was outspoken over social media about how he felt betrayed by the team. By season’s end, it seemed as if the Douglas-Adams drama had vanished. Adams concluded his third season with an 87.9 grade through 6.5 sacks, 75 total tackles, and 10 tackles for a loss in 14 games.

The Demand

Since the deadline drama, Douglas and the Jets have stated publicly that the plan is for Jamal Adams “to be here long-term.” Having picked up Adams’ fifth-year option this off-season, he is now under contract through 2021. However, Adams wants a deal now. Only 24 years old, Adams has made two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team, establishing himself as arguably the best safety in the league.

This off-season, as 2017 first-round picks are now eligible for extensions, Adams has brought the lack-of-negotiations public on Twitter. The team’s leader has brought up time and time again how he wants a new deal and to be paid as more than just a safety but as a top defender. With Adams under contract two more seasons, Douglas is in no rush to get a deal done. Yet the lack of progress has brought the situation to a breaking point of Adams requesting a trade. Adams even listed the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, and more among teams he would like to be traded to.

Last Word on How the Jamal Adams Contract Standoff Reached a Trade Demand

For both the New York Jets and Jamal Adams, the contract saga is a messy situation. Joe Douglas is trying to build his team through depth and cap flexibility. With Adams under contract for two more seasons, the Jets would like to put their resources elsewhere given the state of the team’s roster. For Adams, he is now one of the league’s top defensive players and would like to be paid as such whether by the Jets or another team. Now, it simply becomes a common standoff in today’s league as to which side gives in first.

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