Rost: Why the Seahawks’ trade for safety Jamal Adams has been worth it

Dec 4, 2020, 11:05 AM
Seahawks safety Jamal Adams...
Jamal Adams leads all Seahawks defenders with 6.5 sacks despite missing four games. (Getty)

The Seahawks gave up more than they ever had in any single trade when they sent two first-round picks and then some to the New York Jets this summer in exchange for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams.

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Now, months into the season, Adams has appeared in just seven of a possible 11 games and is facing questions about his coverage on the league’s 32nd-ranked pass defense. Unsurprisingly, some fans are wondering whether the Seahawks gave up too much.

Was the trade for Adams worth it?

The answer is yes, so far it has been.

Even without an interception, Adams has been as advertised when it comes to his rare ability to transcend his position. The immediate impact has been a boost to Seattle’s struggling pass rush; the long-term hope is that he becomes a franchise-altering player for a defense that has fallen from the height of its Super Bowl success.

It’s not strange for people to feel uneasy about the eye-popping price tag attached to a blockbuster trade. Few trades in modern NFL history have included multiple first-round picks.

A 2018 trade that saw the Chicago Bears give up two first-round picks for pass rusher Khalil Mack was just the ninth such trade since 1986. And unless the Seahawks were planning on drafting in the top seven or so picks in 2021 or 2022 (which I can assure you they are not) then this was the price tag attached to a player like Adams.

Where does Adams sit through Week 12?

Adams’ 6.5 sacks lead the team, which is impressive enough on its own, but it also matches his sack total through 14 games in 2019. That’s more than several other defensive ends Seattle was linked to this offseason, including Yannick Ngakoue, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jadeveon Clowney.

If you’re not comfortable having a defensive back as your team’s sack leader, fine – but don’t forget the Seahawks are a year removed from finishing 29th in sacks (28) and quarterback hits. With 31 sacks so far this season, they’ve improved to seventh. Adams’ 6.5 sacks are already 2.5 more than Rasheem Green had when he led all Seahawks in 2019.

Adams is tied for 15th in the league in sacks – coincidentally, with Chicago’s Khalil Mack. It also puts him on pace to break the single-season sack record by any safety (eight, set by Adrian Wilson in 2005).

The knocks

Adams has not had a critique-free year, though, having received knocks for his health and pass coverage. However, it’s worth noting Adams had missed just two games in three seasons prior to arriving in Seattle, so while the four games missed this season have hurt his stat sheet, there’s no extensive injury history that precedes that stretch.

I’d argue it’s alright if your strong safety isn’t your best coverage man. Adams’ one pass defended trails his seven from 2019, and he has yet to record an interception, but he also missed several weeks. And when it comes to questions about Adams’ coverage ability, it’s clear head coach Pete Carroll isn’t concerned.

“He covers really well,” Carroll said during a Friday morning interview with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Dave Wyman. “He can cover wide receivers, I wouldn’t put him out on the edge on a steady diet, but he can do it. He can cover all the tight ends. He can do all the stuff. He’s just a real versatile player. What’s really fun for me (is) I’ve been coaching all these safeties all these years, all these different kinds of guys and styles, and he really can do a little bit of everything, and it’s really exciting to work with.”

The upside

Figuring out just how to use Adams hasn’t been immediate. Without any offseason, the Seahawks have continued to develop their defensive plans with their newest safety through the regular season.

In his interview with Wyman, Carroll spoke about the rare opportunity a player like Adams brings Seattle – now, and in the future.

“Everything we’ve ever done with a safety, he can do,” Carroll said. “The coaches have done a really nice job of making the blend be available so that we could do a number of things, keep him really active, and keep in a number of spots and playing football with these marvelous instincts he has. There’s a lot of things that we’re doing, that we’ve really put in front of him, that he has to utilize his instincts on, and he finds himself in some really good places. And it’s been working out great. We’ve been really excited. He’s just a real obvious factor on the football field.”

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