Jamal Adams
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Safety arguments or not, New York Jets stud Jamal Adams is undoubtedly worthy of a mega extension with the organization.

Robby Sabo

There they were, bored, tired old New York Jets fans, muddling their way through Super Bowl media week. Patrick Mahomes this and Raheem Mostert that… is enough to turn any average Jets fan into one of Rick Grimes’s latest Walking Dead casualties. (Sorry, Jets fans named “Shane;” there’s just no way around that one.)

But then… boom. A pleasant slap to the face of Jets fandom hit swiftly, on Wednesday, when stud strong safety Jamal Adams announced he and the franchise are negotiating a long-term extension.

“Just to clear this up… we’ve had small discussions thus far, not in detailed talks yet, just talked about it. With that being said, I fully expect to be extended this offseason. I want to be in New York!”

The lesson of this story is simple: the man is undoubtedly worthy of a long-term, salary-cap heavy contract—even if he plays safety.

Rewind your mental clock to trade deadline day 2019. Joe Douglas had already ousted Leonard Williams and the names Le’Veon Bell and Adams spread like wildfire. The Dallas Cowboys surfaced as a strong possibility. Even reports claiming Adams wanted out and to subsequently return to his home state ran wild all day at Florham Park.

It didn’t happen. But the drama-filled season that featured Adams, did.

Many speculated about his future. With incredible holes up front on both sides and a former offensive lineman in charge, how could the possibility pass by that Douglas doesn’t trade the superstar for a plethora of assets?

If he did take that route, he wouldn’t be wrong. Football remains an inside-out game and the desperate need to remake the offensive line and four-man conventional pass rush is at the team’s most urgent hour. Adams would escalate that process.

But here’s the rub: Douglas would also avoid a misstep if he signs the man to a multi-year mega contact. He is that damn good.

The best safety in football

The best safety in football is coming off a First-Team All-Pro campaign. In fact, if he played behind at least an average four-man rush, he’d be in serious running for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year honor.

It’s not about interceptions. It’s never been about interceptions. The media’s focus on Adams’s lack of interceptions (two through three seasons) couldn’t be more misplaced. Remember, this is a strong safety. Unlike a few decades ago, an era of football that featured two-deep looks on a constant basis, today’s defense plays with two completely different positions at safety. One guy is the centerfielder while the other—in a perfect world—does everything.

And remember, the strong safety’s value has skyrocketed since the 1980s. Due to the pass-happy nature of this league, only a stud strong safety can take away matchup issues the defense faces when taking on an able running back or tight end in the passing game. No. 33 shuts that noise down.

Adams is more linebacker than safety. He’s the best run support and edge setting safety in the NFL. Beyond his raw physical attributes are his undeniable smarts.

His football acumen allowed Gregg Williams to take a defense totally deficient and turn it into something of a positive, while amazingly playing from the outside-in.

That sort of ability and flexibility is out of this world.

Money, money, money

The highest-paid safety in the NFL (per season) is Chicago Bears centerfielder Eddie Jackson at $14.6 million. Tennessee Titans veteran Kevin Byard is next at a cool $14.1 million. Third is Kansas City Chiefs veteran Tyrann Mathieu.

If the Jets and Adams come to terms, there’s no question he would leapfrog them all and become the highest-paid at his position. Unlike spending money at running back (a position completely dependent upon the offensive line), this is OK per the hard salary cap rules. It doesn’t cripple a depth chart under the cap in any fashion, especially considering the position’s newfound value (SS, not FS).

Expect a four-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $60 million or a five-year pact somewhere around $75 million, both of which will come with a heavy guaranteed number (well north of $30 million).

Also expect for this to get done. Adams is a stud, and luckily for him, these aren’t the ’80s anymore. It’s a new game, he’s a flat-out stud (the best at his position in the league) and strong safety is a top-six impact position in this league.

While either decision could have proven correct, keeping Jamal Adams for the long haul is a tremendous move for the New York Jets.

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