Analysis: Revisiting Seahawks Blockbuster Trade For Jamal Adams 2 Years Later

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Desperate to add star power to their struggling defense in the midst of a championship window, the Seahawks rolled the dice and traded a pair of first-round picks and a third-round pick to the Jets to acquire star safety Jamal Adams before the start of the 2020 season.

At the time, the trade received mixed reviews from experts and analysts. On one hand, Seattle landed a 25-year old defensive Swiss army knife who had earned All-Pro honors in two of his first three seasons. Such a player likely wasn’t going to be available to select in the back third of the first round after another playoff appearance and with the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacting the scouting process, general manager John Schneider voluntarily opted out of the 2021 NFL Draft in exchange for proven talent.

But on the flip side, many questioned Seattle’s decision to unload a tremendous amount of draft capital normally reserved for trading for a quarterback or a pass rusher to acquire a safety. On top of the king’s ransom shipped to the Jets, the team didn’t orchestrate an extension as part of the trade, setting up unnecessary drama for the next offseason as he entered the final year of his rookie deal seeking a record-breaking extension.

Nearly two years after Schneider pulled the trigger to bring Adams to the Pacific Northwest, following the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft, the trade between the Seahawks and Jets has finally been completed. And while critics will continue to pan the deal from Seattle’s perspective, the final trade terms don’t suggest a one-sided deal as many fans and experts seem to think it was.

Under the terms of the agreement, Schneider sent three premium picks to New York, but only two selections were made. During the 2021 NFL Draft, Jets general manager Joe Douglas packaged the first and third-round selections acquired from the Seahawks to move up to pick No. 14 to select USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. On Thursday, the other first-round selection was used to pick Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson at No. 10 overall.

As for Seattle, Schneider wound up with the same number of players coming out of the trade, with Adams being the obvious centerpiece and the fourth-round pick acquired in the deal spent on Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant, the reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner in college football.

Though Adams has been inconsistent and battled injuries in his first two seasons with the Seahawks, he still has been an impact player when healthy. He broke the NFL’s sack record for defensive backs in just 12 games in 2020, bypassing former Cardinals star Adrian Wilson with 9.5 sacks and earning Second-Team All-Pro recognition. Last season, while he didn’t post any sacks with far fewer rushing opportunities, he picked off a pair of passes in three games before suffering a season-ending labrum tear, making major strides in coverage.

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Still only 26 years old, Adams’ best football may yet be in front of him, especially with the promotion of Clint Hurtt to defensive coordinator and the arrival of associate head coach Sean Desai. As long as he can stay healthy, the coaching staff hopes to maximize his unique skill set within the confines of an aggressive 3-4 scheme with more nickel and dime sets allowing him freedom to play near the line of scrimmage.

After starting for four years at Cincinnati, Bryant will break into the league as one of the more polished, high-floor cornerback prospects in the 2022 draft class. Though he has clear athletic limitations that may put a cap on his upside long-term, his instincts, ball skills, and tackling skills will give him a legitimate chance to push for playing time right away competing against Artie Burns and Tre Brown to start opposite of Sidney Jones in Seattle’s secondary.

For both teams, there’s a lot of “what ifs” to still consider when determining who will come out on top from this trade in the long run. If Adams can’t stay on the field, the Seahawks will have a hard time getting the production out of him needed to justify the draft picks the franchise gave up for him and the $70 million contract they paid him. If Bryant becomes a solid starter in the league or even just a viable special teams contributor, that would certainly make the deal look better for Schneider.

In his first season with New York, Vera-Tucker performed well as a run blocker, but he endured plenty of struggles protecting quarterbacks Zach Wilson, Mike White, and Joe Flacco. While Pro Football Focus only charged him with two sacks allowed, he did surrender 42 quarterback pressures and committed five penalties, receiving a 56.9 pass protection grade for the season on 1,027 offensive snaps. If he doesn’t take a big step forward towards becoming a Pro Bowl guard, packing three picks to move up for him won’t look like a wise move.

As for Garrett Wilson, the ex-Buckeyes star brings excellent speed, quickness, yards after the catch proficiency, and toughness at the catch point to the equation and should immediately emerge as a favorite target for Zach Wilson on the outside. With that said, like any receiver, his production will depend largely on the development of the young signal caller and time will tell if he can grow into a true No. 1 receiver worthy of a top-10 selection. Given the Jets track record at the position, it’s debatable whether or not he will reach his potential.

Of course, there’s a whole other factor to consider here from Seattle’s point of view. If Schneider wouldn’t have made the trade for Adams and the team still had its own first-round pick, he could have doubled up on blue chip talent in the top-10. Or maybe the first-round pick surrendered last year could have been used on an impact offensive lineman or pass rusher that could have helped the team stay in the playoff hunt and quarterback Russell Wilson wouldn’t be in Denver right now.

But as is the case evaluating any major move made in the NFL, hypothetical scenarios don’t have near as much significance as the actual facts. Speculating on how things may have played out differently without the trade is for the most part a fruitless exercise with so many variables at play.

Keeping that in mind while looking at the trade in the present, when comparing Adams and Bryant to what the Jets drafted in Vera-Tucker and Wilson, at least for now, that looks like a pretty good haul considering how lopsided the deal initially looked from a draft capital standpoint. A few years from now, a more definitive picture of who won the trade should materialize.