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Making sense of the Seahawks trade for Jamal Adams

Oakland Raiders v New York Jets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

After the slowest of slow news offseasons and more rumblings and rumors about where free agent Jadeveon Clowney would or would not sign, the Seattle Seahawks blew the doors off Saturday. The team traded two first round picks, a third round pick and starting safety Bradley McDougald for Jamal Adams and a Day 3 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

When discussing the trade, there is zero doubt about two things. The first is that the Seahawks paid a hefty price, sending three picks and a solid player to the New York Jets. The second is that Adams is a phenomenal player. So, what does the trade say?

That’s a lot of draft picks

Since the trade went down, there has been significant discussion among fans about how the Seahawks won’t be missing out on anything because of the simple fact that the team drafts so poorly early on that giving up two firsts isn’t a big deal. However, the answer to why the team was willing to part with so much draft capital might be far simpler.

When the NFLPA voted to approve the new collective bargaining agreement back in the spring, doing so drastically reduced the amount of practice time during training camp, while also reducing the length of the preseason by a game. In short, drafted players were taking longer to develop under the practice restrictions of the 2011 CBA, and the impact of the 2020 CBA is likely to only further slow that development. Fans across the league have seen how a simple injury, whether an ankle sprain or a tweaked hamstring, can derail a player’s offseason to the point where their rookie year is largely lost, and going forward that is only going to be more prevalent. Add in that one of the preseason games is going away, and that’s even less developmental time for youngsters during camp.

In short, players drafted in 2020 and the years after are even less likely to have an immediate impact on the field early in their careers.

Adams is a beast

Keeping in mind that younger players are not likely to make significant contributions early in their careers, and it’s probably likely that a healthy Adams makes a bigger impact in 2020 and 2021 than any three youngsters drafted with the picks sent to New York.

Drafted players are a crap shoot. A team might get a Bobby Wagner or a DK Metcalf in the, or it could wind up with a Malik McDowell or a Christine Michael. On the flip side, if a team has certain pieces in place, such as a future Hall of Fame quarterback and the makings of a potentially good secondary, adding a proven All Pro such as Adams might be enough to push the team over the top.

Teams always like to think they’re just one player away, and perhaps the Hawks are simply a single player away from actually making it past the divisional round. What we do know is that Adams is both younger and better than Bradley McDougald, and given their nearly identical cap numbers for 2020, there’s no question which one teams would rather have for this season.

The future

Given that one hundred percent of teams would likely choose to have Adams over McDougald for 2020, things then turn to the future. For the Seahawks, the future is uncertain because while Russell Wilson says he plans to be at the helm for another decade, Pete Carroll is the oldest head coach in the NFL. How many more years Carroll will lead the Hawks is certainly a question that sparks hot debate, but at some point his tenure in Seattle will come to an end.

With the addition of Adams, Carroll now has the ability to make a final push for another Lombardi the way he wants. He’s got the bruising running backs he likes in Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde. He’s got dangerous vertical threats in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, and he could fill a stable with the tight ends who will look to occupy the middle of the defense in Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson, Greg Olsen, Jacob Hollister and something like fourteen other guys.

More importantly, however, on the defensive side of the ball things are finally coming together to form a unit that could begin to be recognized as formidable. With Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams at safety and Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers on the outside, the secondary has the makings of a unit that isn’t the Legion of Boom 2.0 at this point, but it’s got the potential to be very, very good for a very long time. Add in the fresh legs of Jordyn Brooks to Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright to go along with a defensive line that appears likely to have more specialized roles than any prior Seahawks unit, and it’s a group that may not dominate, will likely make some noise. And that’s what Carroll wants.

Give him the guys with a chip on their shoulder who are ready to come in and give everything they’ve got to a mission that is bigger and more important then themselves, and that’s what Carroll has been looking to build.

Whether this is the final push for Carroll, or whether it’s the next push in a career that will extend for another decade, the team is now built in the fashion and manner Carroll wants it built, and Adams was a necessary piece in getting the team to that state. Not that McDougald was bad. Just the opposite, McDougald is a fine safety, possibly even very good. But very good doesn’t even begin to sum up Adams, who rates very good at the weakest parts of his game.

And that’s why the Seahawks were willing to pay what was necessary to add him to the roster. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how big the impact Adams makes on the field will be.