The Jamal Adams trade is bittersweet for the New York Jets. They got a package they couldn’t refuse, but lost the face of their franchise.
The Jamal Adams saga had been dragging on too long and was only becoming nastier. His constant shots at the head coach, general manager, owner, and organization as a whole left the New York Jets no choice. They needed to trade the face of their franchise.
For some reason, Jets fans never seemed to support Adams the way most fans do with superstars. The most common fault fans had was “he’s just a box safety,” a ridiculous notion that disregards how unique and dominant Adams is on the field.
The young player is on a Hall of Fame track and was a homegrown star in East Rutherford. Now, he’s headed to Seattle. That’s not the end of the world for the Jets, but it stings.
Joe Douglas and the organization must continue to look forward. They now possess the cap space and draft capital to turn this team around quickly if they do it right. If Douglas misses on this opportunity, the Jets will have just proven Adams right for wanting to leave.
First and foremost, Douglas deserves a round of applause for the haul he managed to receive. The Jets acquired more for Adams than the Raiders did for Khalil Mack or the Jaguars did for Jalen Ramsey. For just Adams and a fourth-round pick, the Jets were able to collect the Seahawks’ first-round picks in 2021 and 2022, their third-round pick in 2021, and safety Bradley McDougald.
That means the Jets own five picks in the first three rounds and eight picks in the first five rounds (10 picks total) in 2021. That’s a treasure trove of draft selections in what’s expected to be an incredible offensive class that encompasses an even better and deeper wide receiver class, a strong offensive line class, and most importantly, an elite quarterback class.
Douglas now has the draft capital to build this team in his image, and do it quickly. If he’s the drafter that the Jets were promised, then New York is in a position to turn this franchise on its head. They’re in a situation very similar to the one the Colts were in when they drafted Quenton Nelson and used a number of picks to take the team from the bottom of the league to the postseason.
The caveat here is that Douglas will need to hit on his draft picks. The Jets have had multiple first-round picks four times since 2000. During that very year, they chose Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington, and Anthony Becht in a draft that set the Jets up to compete throughout the early 2000s.
In 2006, the Jets selected D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. The two became cornerstones of what was arguably the Jets’ greatest offensive line in team history from 2008-11. Mangold is arguably a Hall of Fame-caliber player.
In 2008, the Jets drafted Vernon Gholston and Dustin Keller. Gholston is one of the greatest draft busts of all-time. Meanwhile, Keller underwent some decent years with the Jets as Mark Sanchez’s preferred receiving option. With that said, Keller played out his five years with the Jets and then was out of the league shortly thereafter.
Finally, in 2013, the Jets drafted Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson. Milliner was a huge bust and only lasted three years in the NFL before his career came to an end. Richardson’s career started off hot; he was the Defensive Rookie of the Year and then made the Pro Bowl in 2014. He hasn’t hit that peak since though and didn’t receive a second contract from the Jets.
Drafting is a scary game. It’ll be up to Douglas to steer the ship in the right direction. If he hits his picks then he’ll undoubtedly put the Jets on course to be a contender. If he misses, the Jets may not recover this decade.
Moving past the draft picks, let’s talk about McDougald. Some may look at him as just a throw-in, but he’s much more than that. McDougald is going to be Adams’ replacement for 2020. He’s additionally in the final year of his contract, which means more cap space for 2021.
On the field, McDougald is a versatile player who’s able to fit whatever role he’s asked. In 2018, he was asked to be a force in the run game, so he was. He was an above-average run stuffer who recorded four tackles for loss and missed just 8.2% of his tackle attempts. That came with a drawback though, as McDougald was a nightmare in coverage. In 2018, he allowed a 76.7% completion rate along with 535 yards, five touchdowns, 8.9 yards per target, and a 110.1 passer rating when quarterbacks targeted him.
Oddly enough, his skillset pulled a complete 180 in 2019. He seemingly became one of the best coverage safeties in the NFL overnight. During that campaign, McDougald allowed a 54.4% completion percentage, 356 yards, zero touchdowns, 6.2 yards per target, and a 58.8 passer rating when quarterbacks targeted him. Again there was a drawback. McDougald’s run defense fell off a cliff and he notched just one tackle for loss and missed 14.6% of his tackle attempts.
It’ll be up to Gregg Williams to figure out how to optimize one of his newest players. The best-case scenario is the team acquires someone who had McDougald’s 2018 run-defending and 2019 pass-defending abilities. That version of him would arguably be one of the ten best safeties in the NFL.
Another superstar bites the dust
While Douglas gets full marks for the return he earned in the Adams trade, he’ll have points deducted for how he handled the situation. The Jets have lost yet another homegrown superstar. Since 2000, they’ve employed four homegrown All-Pros, three of which were traded away. They all said the same thing when they left too, and that’s how the Jets’ miscommunication led to broken trust.
Darrelle Revis, Abraham, and Adams were all traded. The only homegrown star who stuck around was Mangold. The Jets are still searching for replacements for Revis and Abraham.
Since Abraham left, the Jets have received at least 10 single-season sacks from an edge rusher just once. Since Revis left, the only above-average secondary they’ve possessed was in 2015. It’s not easy to replace All-Pro players. More often than not, they leave a hole in the roster that can’t be filled.
Adams is likely to be the same. He’s on a Hall of Fame track, and although McDougald is an above-average safety, he isn’t going to fill Adams’ shoes. At some point, the Jets front office will need to lock up a star player.
They just have to hope that player is willing to listen when the time comes.