Joe Douglas was left with no alternative. If the New York Jets were going to move forward as an organization and a roster, then he had to trade Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks.
It is uncertain if the Jets actually improved in Saturday’s trade. The deal, a blockbuster by the NFL’s standard, sent Adams and a fourth round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to Seattle for two first round picks and a third round pick as well as safety Bradley McDougald. In many ways, for the Jets, it was a deal that was simply too good to pass up. And while the first round picks in 2021 and 2022 are likely going to be at the back of the first round, this is still a chance for the roster to be improved.
But this trade wasn’t so much about the roster constricts or accelerating the rebuild. Instead, this was about setting a tone within the organization about how the Jets will be built.
To understand why Douglas traded his star player (and perhaps his only star on the roster), one must understand the prevailing influence on his character as a general manager.
Douglas is a disciple of Ozzie Newsome, the legendary Baltimore Ravens general manager. Newsome will go down as one of the best executives of all-time, a leader who deliberately built tough teams that mixed proven veterans and young, contributing players on the ascend. Newsome was a visionary in one sense and a realist in another.
The star players on the Ravens were homegrown. Newsome had an eye for talent and he drafted very well, providing players a chance to develop. Many of these players were the lunch pail variety. Tough. Gritty, Loved the game. Hated to lose.
They played with an edge but for the most part, they bought into the locker room and the mentality that their best chance at success was to buy-in completely as a cohesive, functioning team.
In Adams, the Jets simply didn’t have that type of a player. And to be a star, the face of the franchise and run counter to the character mantra established by Douglas and head coach Adam Gase would run counter to the team’s rebuild.
Not just counter, but it might stunt it entirely.
Adams is unquestionably a talent. He’s a game-changer, an elite player who creates match-up problems for opposing offensive coordinators. He’s special in that his skillset is multiple and his ability to attack is able to transform a rather ordinary defense into a dynamic one.
But this offseason, Adams shifted in Week 17 from wanting to sign a long-term deal with the Jets to demanding a trade. Along the way he bashed management, took shots at Gase, posted on social media about how he wanted out and, late this past week, went after Woody Douglas who bought the Jets in 2000.
No matter how talented of a football player he may be, that type of attitude and demeanor runs counter to the foundational mindset of how Douglas wants to build his team.
And, make no mistakes about it, this trade now makes this team Douglas’ and his alone.
This isn’t to say that along the way, things couldn’t have been handled in a better way. One of the gripes made by Adams in recent weeks was that he was promised a contract offer this offseason and never received one. The Jets have never responded to this claim and likely never will so the truth likely won’t be known or vetted.
Undeniably, however, the Jets simply at this stage of their roster rebuild can’t allow their star, their face of the franchise, to publicly bash the organization. Not just bash, but repeatedly and vehemently do so with a personal agenda in mine.
Adams will get paid what he deserves, a deal that rightly will make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. His talents are surely deserving of this investment from the Seahawks or whatever team is willing the price.
Yet for the Jets, the trade had to be made. The only way to move forward was not to be held hostage by someone intent on holding them back.