The New York Jets’ transaction log, including the latest add Joe Flacco, demonstrates just why a new Adams deal isn’t instantly feasible.
After Friday’s reported signing of quarterback Joe Flacco, the New York Jets have added 15 new players during this 2020 NFL offseason.
Notably absent among the transactions is a long-term deal for Jamal Adams.
The roller-coaster saga between the star defender and his New York employers went for another spin last week, as reports emerged that Adams and his camp were miffed that a long-term deal had not been completed yet. This reopened trade rumors that initially ignited last fall, ones that saw the Dallas Cowboys emerge as the top Adams suitors, ones that caused some hurt feelings between the two sides.
One of general manager Joe Douglas’ primary duties since a rocky 1-7 has been rehabilitating the relationship between management and Adams. Cooler heads have mostly since prevailed, the most prominent example being Douglas’ declaration that he wanted to make Adams “a Jet for life” at the NFL Scouting Combine.
In the midst of the supposed drama, Adams has voiced little, if any, concerns about a potential future with the Jets. After a weekend of possibly sleepless nights, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport granted Jets fans a Memorial Day gift by declaring that there “isn’t any traction” between New York and Dallas vis a vis an Adams deal.
The Jets want an extension. Adams, by all indications, wants it. The fans obviously want it.
But it’s not in the cards right now from a franchise standpoint.
Adams’ performance has nothing to do with it. The safety has established himself as the face of New York football, a practitioner of the hard-hitting finesse that metropolitan fans have come to adore and expect from their defensive stars. His status as a New York legend, at least until he plays a playoff game in green, was perhaps solidified during the 2019 Pro Bowl proceedings. Adams pranced around Orlando like a kid at Christmas, taking out years of tri-state frustration on Pat Patriot before winning game MVP honors alongside future Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes.
But that’s exactly the “issue”: Adams has established himself as a premiere, long-term NFL talent. His comrades in green have not.
Of the Jets’ free agents signings, a combined 15 new contracts bestowed to newcomers and returnees alike, all but one (the three-year, $27 million deal earned by Connor McGovern) is either a one-year deal or armed with an out after the upcoming season (McGovern’s comes after two). This is an apparent indication that the Jets are zooming in the short-term aspirations of their star-crossed franchise.
Going all in on the immediate future is a luxury often afforded solely to teams that are in Super Bowl contention or are at most the proverbial “one more away”. No one’s arguing that the Jets have reached that point. Even with the uncertainty looming in New England and extra playoff capital granted, asking the Jets to end their playoff drought is going to be a tall task.
If and when we get a 2020 season, it should be almost like a tryout for the next phase of the Jets’ reboot. Numbering the steps would be an exercise in futility, but the Jets feel like they’re closer than ever to the one that finally yields profit. Adams leads a developing defense alongside fellow veteran and All-Pro C.J. Mosley. Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell provide a rare instance of having two backfield saviors.
Last season proved that this group consisted of mere star athletes, not miracle workers. If the Jets were truly going to contend and take over the post-Tom Brady AFC, they needed to have consistent options available at every slot in the depth chart.
The Jets thus wisely used their offseason capital on finding such solutions, primarily ones that were going to make the jobs of a long-suffering offense a lot easier. McGovern was added alongside single-year men and fellow blockers Greg Van Roten and George Fant. Accomplished veteran insurance came in the form of Joe Flacco and Frank Gore. December’s breakout receiver Breshad Perriman can be a veteran target for Darnold.
Such options even revealed themselves at home. Bless Austin was a sixth-round steal from Rutgers. Jordan Jenkins, Neville Hewitt, James Burgess, Brian Poole, and Arthur Maulet each earned invitations to stay for another year.
Thus, the 2020 season will be a test, one of strength and mettle. With these one-year deals, Douglas has told those who signed them that there is a chance that they can be the ones to finally put the Jets back in football’s more refined residencies. But, if they want to do that, they’re going to have to prove it.
Adams is far beyond that stage.
If the Jets need to convince Adams that a long-term deal isn’t feasible right now, they should tell him that his spot in New York is secure and that there’s a plan. That plan will go through some lean times, but it’s a plan nonetheless, one where those invited on one-year deals will have to prove themselves worthy of suiting up alongside Adams for the new decade.
The Jets might not even be done assembling this team of tryouts as is. After all, they’re still armed with just below $15 million in cap space (not counting the newest deal for Flacco). They reportedly brought in the backup quarterback less than a week ago and would be wise to peruse the remaining veteran market on receivers (Demaryius Thomas, Taylor Gabriel, Paul Richardson) and linebackers (Markus Golden, Nigel Bradham).
Simply put the Jets could be in a better position to succeed, perhaps even this season, if they keep on building. Doing so would conflict with Adams’ apparent goal of being the NFL’s top-paid safety. Barring any cap slashes, it would hard to deal a majority of the remaining cap space solely to Adams right now while continuing to prepare for more immediate endeavors.
Barring anything truly disastrous, things seem to continually trend in the direction of an Adams extension. There have been bumps in the road, but no uncontrollable fires thus far. The fact of the matter is that, right now, the Jets have the leverage in this situation, and it would be silly for either side to truly challenge or exploit that. Jamal Adams is far beyond the current New York plan of one-year “prove it” deals. There’s a time and place for an extension…it simply isn’t this very moment.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags