It was the right move, the New York Jets trading Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks. It surely wasn’t easy to trade the team’s best player, a truly generational talent at his position. And yet, general manager Joe Douglas again showed a willingness to defy conventional wisdom. After a decade without the postseason, trading Adams is the type of bold move and conviction this Jets team needs to become relevant again.
The Jets were left with no alternative but to move on from Adams for the simple reason that he showed through his discontent that he is not a building block for this franchise moving forward. In trading his one and only star, Douglas added the pieces that can be building blocks for turning the Same Old Jets into something new and exciting. It can be what the Herschel Walker trade was for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, providing the foundation for a team that would go on to win three Super Bowls in four years during the mid-1990s.
For the better part of the month, Adams had groused, first subtly leaking to the media that he wanted a trade and then very publicly upping the volume on his demands. It culminated this past week in taking shots at Woody Johnson over allegations of racist and sexist remarks and then, in what was seemingly the final straw, trashing the Jets organization and in particular head coach Adam Gase. Going after the man who bought the team in 2000 in Johnson and then the head coach is a sure ticket out of town. Adams got what he wanted.
Turns out the pragmatic Douglas did, too.
Keep in mind that Douglas is a disciple of Ozzie Newsome, the Baltimore Ravens general manager who built his team through the NFL draft. Twice this past April, Douglas moved back in the draft so that the Jets could obtain more capital for their rebuild. Now in trading Adams, a brewing locker room controversy, he was able to eliminate a possible distraction throughout the season while adding more pieces to build (and rebuild) through the draft.
And for the Jets, looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, it doesn’t matter the level of the star quality — and don’t get it twisted, Adams is a legitimate star and talent — but the Jets simply can’t abide this type of behavior in their locker room. Douglas has now set a tone for what this organization will look and how it will be built. Get on board or get shipped out.
Simply put, if the Jets were going to move forward, they had to move Adams. And in getting first-round picks in 2021 and in 2022, as well as a third-round pick next year and a starting caliber safety in Bradley McDougald, the Jets cleaned up.
Will the Jets get a player the caliber of Adams with Seattle's first-round pick next year, a selection that likely will be late in the first round for a team that is perennially in the playoffs? Probably not. But the Jets did end up adding some flexibility. And as Trader Joe Douglas showed in the last NFL draft, he is not afraid to move around the draft board to accumulate assets.
For a team that needs help on both sides of the ball, adding two extra first-round picks in as many years is monumental. And while Adams isn’t just any player, the chance of retaining him was always going to be limited and costly.
Making a safety the top-paid player on the team, which is what Adams likely would have needed in order to set aside his gripe, is a risky proposition. Especially for a Jets team in need of so much right now.
As last year’s 1-7 start showed, the Jets do need help and can withstand an infusion of talent at nearly every position group. The money saved on Adams can go toward retaining Marcus Maye, who has been solid the past three years, as well as upgrading next offseason in free agency.
That money saved can be the difference between a second-tier offensive lineman and a Pro Bowl caliber tackle. Or a solid running back and one that can make defenders miss and break off long runs. Adams is special but the Jets now have both cap flexibility and three extra picks early on in the draft over the next two years.
This type of moves from Douglas takes guts. But like the Cowboys did in 1989 with Walker, it can pay dividends. It likely means that the Jets rebuild extends for another season or two. But if the Jets can add quality starters with this new accrual of draft collateral, then it could be the push over the top that this rebuilding team needs.