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On Jamal Adams, the front office, and the value of listening to your mom

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Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brief but dramatic standoff between Jamal Adams and the Front Office of the Seattle Seahawks, a contract is officially on the books and the talented safety looks to be residing in Seattle for some time longer. This transforms his single season cameo as a Seahawk into a full-fledged starring role for a quintet of seasons to come. And he will do so as the NFL’s highest paid safety — at least for the moment.

Extending Adams is not a cheap maneuver, as the annual value of his contract comes in north of $17M, and represents a near 15% raise over the previously highest-paid safety — Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos. But apparently this was still below the target that Adams had set for himself. Per Aaron Levine of Q13 Fox, Prez had a bit of help in making his final decision.

Of course, the flip side to this story is how the front office handled these negotiations, which seems to be a microcosm of how other standoffs have gone down. In previous years, we have seen the Seahawks work successfully to extend veterans and key players on both sides of the ball (Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, Bobby Wagner), but we have also watched in agony as talented fan favorites like Golden Tate, Jermaine Kearse, and Russell Okung caught flights out of Seattle and never returned (or in the case of J.R. Sweezy, took the first flight out of town before later boarding the red eye and flying back seasons later). According to Brady Henderson of ESPN, Seattle took their time-tested approach and played the same hand with Jamal Adams, putting their cards on the table and refusing to budge on their final ante.

I see two kernels of wisdom that can be pulled from the above knowledge; first — if you are fortunate enough to be in a position where your mom is giving you advice, you should probably listen. Second, I cannot overstate the value of having a front office that not only knows when to bust out the checkbook, but also when to stop moving the pen.

Every player’s contributions carry a commensurate value for which they should expect to be compensated fairly. Of course, therein lies the crux of negotiations; from whose perspective is the performance-to-salary ratio calculated? In the case of Jamal Adams — and the many other players who have entered into negotiations with Seattle — John Schneider and the folks around him apparently reserve the right to make the final determination. In doing so, they empower players to make their own determination as well; and sometimes this leads to unfortunate departures, but it also guarantees that the team is not perpetually over-investing in mid-level talent to the detriment of organizational financial health.

This is all an extrapolated means of saying that this contract was actually a good deal for both sides. Say what you will about the exaggerated coverage struggles of Jamal Adams in 2020, but retaining a player whose role on the football field could most closely be paralleled by the Queen on a chessboard is a net win for any team. And doubly so at ~$17.5 APY. Surely, making Adams the highest paid safety is a hefty commitment. But how much do teams commit to players who do what Jamal does?

Per Over the Cap, their are currently eight edge rusher whose APY is at or above $17.5M; below is a table with their stats and PFF pass rush grade, with Jamal Adams listed at the bottom for comparison.

Pass Rushers, Salaries, and Stats

Player Age Total Value Avg./Year Sacks in 2020 TFL QB Hurries PFF Grade
Player Age Total Value Avg./Year Sacks in 2020 TFL QB Hurries PFF Grade
Joey Bosa 26 $135M $27M 7.5 15 18 90.5
Myles Garrett 26 $125M $25M 12 10 12 90
Khalil Mack 30 $141M $23.5M 9 11 16 90.8
Demarcus Lawrence 29 $105M $21M 6.5 11 14 85.7
Frank Clark 28 $104M $20.8M 6 8 9 55.6
Von Miller 32 $114.5M $19M 0 0 - -
Trey Flowers 28 $90M $18M 2 3 3 72.7
Cameron Jordan 32 $52.5M $17.5M 7.5 11 9 76.5
Jamal Adams 25 $72M $17.5M 9.5 11 10 86.9
All stats pulled from Pro Football Reference and Pro Football Focus

Per Pro Football Reference, Adams was second in both sacks and tackles for loss, next to only Myles Garret and Joey Bosa, respectively, along with recording the fifth most QB hurries. Furthermore, according to Pro Football Focus, Jamal Adams is the fourth highest graded pass rusher of the above listed players, which would land him at sixth overall relative to all edge defenders. Now, before anybody gets any keen ideas to point out that Jamal Adams is a safety, allow me to pre-retort by asking… so what? A player should expect to be compensated for their on-field performance and not the abbreviation listed next to their “position” on the roster.

Sure, seeing Adams improve his coverage game in 2021 will be a welcome vista for COVID ravaged eyes, and as I have stated previously I certainly expect him to. But even if he goes out and essentially repeats his performance from last season, I won’t be the least bit disappointed — new contract and all. Of course, I certainly hope that he does so while remaining healthier, for his sake and for the sake of us fans who enjoy watching him play. Critique Adams at your own peril; he performed at a high level last year, as he has done every season since departing Baton Rouge for New Jersey in 2017. He was arguably the most fun player to watch on a defense that rebuilt its identity over the course of the year, and I have no doubt that he will repeat at least this much in ‘21 and beyond. Now, if the front office can just make good with Duane Brown and we can get back to anticipating the 17-game season that lurks just beyond the veil of two more exhibition matchups.