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In trading Jamal Adams, New York Jets  got draft picks and cleared valuable salary cap space

Trading Jamal Adams gains valuable assets but also clears needed salary cap space for the rebuilding New York Jets.

Trading Jamal Adams was not merely unloading a potential locker room distraction or acquiring NFL Draft assets. It was for the New York Jets, according to one salary cap expert, about “opportunity cost.”

In sending a fourth round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and Adams to the Seahawks, the Jets obtained a starting safety in Bradley McDougald as well as first rounds picks (2021, 2022) and a third round pick (2021). They also cleared considerable cap space in the present but also for next year when they project to be active in free agency.

“Trades are all about opportunity cost,” said Brad Spielberger, a salary cap analyst who works for and Pro Football Focus.

“The Jets of course added some future cap liabilities with the acquisition of two 1st round picks and a 3rd round pick in exchange for a fourth. However, they also freed up money that was set to go to Jamal Adams.”

Adams, of course, wanted out of New York because of a contract dispute. Currently in the fourth year of his rookie deal, the Jets controlled his rookie contract though next year as well as the possibility to place a franchise tag on him for the next two seasons.


But that would be a significant investment in a player who, despite making consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and being named an All-Pro in 2019, was still a safety. That is not a position of investment in the NFL.

In trading Adams, the Jets clear cap space this year that they can roll over into next year where they will look to ideally take a step forward in their rebuild.

“The Jets cleared about $3.6 million off the 2020 salary cap by trading Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks, but took on a $4.1 million 2020 cap charge for his replacement at safety [in] Bradley McDougald. They have roughly $22 million in 2020 cap space to work with, though teams typically try to carry over about half of that number into the following season,” Spielberger said.

“The big savings come in 2021 and beyond. Adams was set to make $9.86 million in 2021 on his fifth-year option, and after that was looking at an extension in the $17 million per year range.

“The Jets now have around $157 million in total cap commitments for 2021, which would be $18 million below the minimum 2021 cap of $175M.”

Spielberger is the author of The Drafting Stage: Creating a Marketplace for NFL Draft Picks. The acclaimed book is available on Amazon.