While Seahawks coach Pete Carroll expressed optimism about an upcoming extension for Jamal Adams during the team's mandatory minicamp last month, negotiations reportedly aren't going quite as planned, making the next couple of weeks crucial ones as the two sides try to reach a deal.
Speaking on Sportscenter on Sunday, ESPN reporter Jeremy Fowler indicated negotiations between Seattle and Adams have been "slow-going," and though the team remains committed to signing the star safety, discussions could last deep into training camp and potentially even Week 1 of the regular season.
"It's complicated, because Jamal Adams has some leverage," Fowler reported. "He knows the team gave up two first-round picks to get him, and he's trying to reset the safety market in a big way. I'm not saying he's holding out, but this is a player who got his way out of New York over his contract. The Seahawks at least know they're dealing with a hard bargainer, someone who's willing to bet on himself."
When the Seahawks agreed to trade 2020 and 2021 first-round picks along with a 2020 third-round pick to the Jets for Adams, many questioned why the team opted not to extend him as part of the trade agreement. Nearly one year later, that decision looms large as the All-Pro defender seeks a record-breaking contract to become the NFL's highest-paid safety, a title currently held by Broncos star Justin Simmons, who recently signed a four-year, $61 million deal worth $15.25 million annually.
Given the immense amount of capital general manager John Schneider unloaded to land Adams last July, the star safety understands most, if not all, of the leverage is in his court. As he demonstrated by forcing his way out of New York to begin with, he's not going to sell himself short of his perceived value and previous reports suggested he could ask for as much as $18 or more million per season.
His reasoning? Adams doesn't view himself as just a safety - he's a defensive weapon with a toolbox of skills unlike anyone else at his position. While he struggled in coverage at times during his first season with the franchise, particularly during the first few games on the schedule, he proved once again he was a unicorn by racking up an NFL record 9.5 sacks in only 12 games for the Seahawks. Statistically, he has an argument for earning pass rusher-type money on his next contract.
From Seattle's perspective, however, that's a steep price to pay for a non-quarterback, even if Adams does provide unrivaled pass rushing production for his position and has been named an All-Pro three times in four NFL seasons. Schneider would much rather negotiate a deal around the $16-17 million per year range that still surpasses Simmons' mark, but doesn't handcuff the team as much financially in future seasons.
If Adams holds firm on his desires to eclipse $17 or $18 million per year and Seattle is not willing to budge on its initial offer, as Fowler insinuated, it's possible negotiations could stall or even cease completely before the start of the regular season in September. Under such circumstances, he could hold out until a new deal is in place or decide to play out the final year of his rookie deal, as he's set to earn $9.9 million in 2021.
From there, the Seahawks could resort to using the franchise tag next March to ensure Adams doesn't leave in free agency. If they tagged him, the team would be on the hook for an estimated $13.5 million in 2022 and negotiations could continue next offseason. But doing so would also irk Adams as well, potentially putting the team in a similar bind to the Jets when they weren't able to extend him and ultimately had to deal him, creating a situation Schneider would like to avoid at all costs.
With training camp just three weeks away, the clock is ticking to get a deal done. But if there's a silver lining, ample time remains for Seattle to reach an agreement with Adams and it's not time to hit the panic button just yet. Schneider and cap guru Matt Thomas have a long history of finalizing extensions shortly before or during the early stages of camp and the front office will work feverishly over the next few weeks to lock up the star safety. Assuming both sides make necessary concessions, they should be able to steer clear of an unfortunate contract impasse.