SEATTLE, WA - Closing in on the start of training camp amid immense uncertainty during a pandemic, Jamal Adams wasn't having a pleasant Friday.
Spending the evening with family, friends, and loved ones, the amount of stress the ex-LSU standout was carrying on his shoulders was apparent to everyone around him. As his relationship with the Jets continued to grow increasingly fractured beyond repair, he didn't know where he would be playing in 2020 and needed a sign.
"I prayed on it. I prayed on it hard," Adams told reporters in a Zoom conference call on Thursday. "I asked God to place me where I needed to be. Whether that was to go back to New York or that was to be traded."
Less than 24 hours later, Adams' prayers were quickly answered in the form of five missed calls from his agent as he slept in Saturday morning. And he couldn't have asked for a better landing spot as general manager John Schneider and the Seahawks shipped two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and Bradley McDougald to the Jets for the do-it-all All-Pro safety.
"This is my calling," Adams proclaimed, saying the trade brought tears of joy. "I'm here to stay and I'm excited to be a Seattle Seahawk. I'm really overwhelmed, but at the same time, it's so surreal to be around a great organization like Seattle."
Since initially demanding a trade, the Seahawks have been one of Adams desired destinations for a number of reasons. He was lured to the Pacific Northwest by what he called a "first-class" organization featuring legendary coaches such as Pete Carroll as well as Hall of Fame talent such as Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner.
Though he's only been in the NFL for three seasons, Adams already has well-established relationships with several players on Seattle's roster. He and Wagner previously met during a trip to Monaco representing the Jordan brand and he's also known fellow safety Quandre Diggs since a recruiting trip to Texas many years ago. On previous occasions, he's speculated what it would be like to team up with both players.
When his agent called Adams about a potential trade to Seattle being finalized, he explicitly ordered his client not to tell anyone. But after hanging up the phone, Adams admitted he couldn't resist calling Diggs and maintained contact with him as he awaited confirmation on the trade.
Now, Adams and Diggs will team up to form one of the most formidable safety tandems in the entire NFL. Though they haven't had a chance to practice on the field together yet, they were already "chopping it up" with Xs and Os following a positional meeting on Wednesday.
"I was already telling him, 'no, no, no, you stay in the post! If it's an over route, I got it! Don't worry about it!" Adams laughed. "So we're just talking ball. He loves ball, I love ball. We're very passionate about it, so I'm excited to play with him."
Growing up in rural Texas, Adams became immersed in football at a very young age. His father George played six seasons as a running back in the NFL for the Giants and Patriots and at one point, Jamal himself starred out of the backfield, with Willis McGahee being his favorite player.
But Adams has always been astute watching film and he became drawn to several of the top safeties of the 2000s, including Troy Polamalu, Bob Sanders, Brian Dawkins, and Sean Taylor. As he developed into a top recruit nationally and an eventual top-10 draft choice, he made it a goal to take parts of their respective games and add them to his repertoire, paving the way for him to emerge as one of the most versatile defenders in the sport.
"So many guys - just football players that I looked up to and I always kinda wanted to, like, create that one person of all those guys. So I always took bits and pieces of their game and tried to add it to mine. But I have so much respect for those guys who came before me and there's so many guys that have been out there that I look up to."
Notably, Adams also took great interest in the Seahawks famous "Legion of Boom" secondary headlined by cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. After playing on Saturday for LSU, he took great joy in watching that trio bring passion and energy to the field on NFL Sunday.
Joining Diggs and Pro Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin in Seattle's secondary, Adams knows this current incarnation must write their own story. On an individual level, even after being a First-Team All-Pro selection a year ago, he believes he has much room for improvement in every aspect of his game and he's amped for the opportunity to be "coached hard" by Carroll, who previously oversaw the development of Polamalu at USC as well as Sherman, Thomas, and Chancellor.
As for his future, after initially sidestepping the question from reporters, Adams made it clear he intends to be with the Seahawks long-term and "plans to retire" in the Pacific Northwest. All along, this was where he was meant to be and he's looking forward to starring on the team's defense for years to come.
"Those things handle themselves. All you have to do is go on the field and perform, do the right things on and off the field and those things will take care of themselves. I'm very excited to be here. I know the rest of the guys are excited to have me and the coaching staff and everybody else, so we'll worry about that when the time comes."