Was Seahawks’ Jamal Adams trade worse than Harvin, Graham deals?

Dec 9, 2021, 2:47 PM

Seattle Seahawks Jamal Adams...

Seahawks safety Jamal Adams reacts during the third quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The Seahawks have made some massive, blockbuster trades since Pete Carroll and John Schneider came to town in 2010, but their track record of trading first-round picks for established talent has not quite worked out.

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That duo traded first-round picks for receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Jimmy Graham in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and neither seemed to be the right fit for Seattle.

Prior to the 2020 season, Carroll and Schneider upped the ante, trading not one but two first-round picks — as well as a third-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald — to the New York Jets for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams (and a fourth-round pick), ending a dispute between Adams and the Jets as the safety looked for a lucrative contract extension.

Adams got everything he wanted out of a trade to Seattle, playing in the playoffs for the first time last season and signing an extension prior to this season that made him the highest-paid safety in NFL history.

Adams set an NFL record for defensive backs with 9.5 sacks in 2020 and was named a second-team All-Pro, but he had some lackluster moments, primarily in coverage. He was also banged up, missing four games with a groin strain and playing through finger and shoulder injuries, the latter of which required offseason surgery.

Well, the shoulder is again an issue as Adams’ 2021 season is done after 12 games as he re-injured that same shoulder in last Sunday’s win over the 49ers. Adams also had been less impactful on the stat sheet this year, registering no sacks, four tackles for loss and two QB hits as he was utilized more in coverage than he was a year ago.

Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard didn’t hold back on where he stands on the Seahawks’ decision to trade for and pay Adams during the latest Brock and Salk Podcast from 710 ESPN Seattle.

“The Jamal Adams trade is a disaster,” Huard said. “And I think I would even take it a step further here on this podcast and say of the three major trades … I think of the Percy, Jimmy and Jamal (deals), I think Jamal is going to go down as the worst trade.”

Mike Salk, Huard’s co-host, said he thinks the Harvin trade was the best of the three because the Seahawks won the Super Bowl with Harvin returning a kick for a touchdown. Plus, he said, the Seahawks gave up just the last pick of the first round to get him on the team, all points Huard agreed with.

Salk contends that the trade for Graham is the worst of the three deals.

“You got Jimmy Graham, who’s a good player, but he also completely took you out of what you were trying to do in terms of your identity,” Salk said. “… You gave up a first-round pick for him and you gave up (starting center) Max Unger in the deal in order to get back a fifth-round pick … They were wrong (as) Max Unger did have a lot left (in the tank) and they still haven’t replaced him. They haven’t had a center since then … When you factor in the Max Unger thing, they got it totally wrong. I think that’s worse than (the other trades).”

Huard said it’s close between the Graham and the Adams deals as far as which is worst.

“Jamal Adams, I think he has the opportunity to be worse than that,” Huard said in reference to the Graham trade. “Two first-rounders – (the second of which) could be a top-10 pick depending how the rest of this (season) unfolds. A lot of dollars, you empowered him to be a difference-maker … You thought he could come in and bring the juice and have the energy and the edge. And when adversity hit, he ducked. He didn’t take any responsibility, any criticism for some games.”

Huard said when Adams wouldn’t point inward at himself after a poor game or when Seattle’s defense struggled, it reminded some of former Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, only that Sherman had “years of equity” in Seattle that Adams doesn’t.

“Years of being the best corner in the game, years of winning a Super Bowl and getting you to the next one,” Huard said. “And maybe unfairly Jamal had to come in and carry that mantle of the bravado and the voice and the edge and the juice and everything else Pete talked about in that trade and how important it was. And if you can’t play at a high level and be the best at your position, you can’t carry that and it falls silent.”

Huard said trading two first-round picks for a safety is a bad move on its own, but Adams’ record-setting deal makes it all the more head scratching.

“You had to pay him $17 million and reset the safety market with a salary that’s going to further complicate things, and it did as (fellow Pro Bowl safety) Quandre Diggs sat out of training camp and looked for his (new deal) and he deserves it,” Huard said. “… (Diggs is) certainly much more deserving of (a large new deal) than Jamal is with his play that is highly limited.”

Huard questioned if Adams is even viewed as a top-five or top-10 strong safety in the NFL anymore by those around the league.

“And you gave up two first-rounders and paid him and reset the market? That’s a huge swing and miss,” he said.

Salk said that in hindsight, the Seahawks probably wish they didn’t go down that route, but he contends the bigger issue wasn’t so much the deal for Adams but how the team got to the point of trading that much for Adams in the first place.

“Why did they get to that point? Because of other mistakes in the draft and elsewhere, you eventually had to go do that with Jamal Adams – or so you thought,” he said. “And you felt that you were close enough (to reaching the Super Bowl) that the draft picks wouldn’t matter. If they finish this year either in the playoffs or just outside of it, it’ll hurt to (not have that pick) … but if it’s a top-five pick in the draft? That’s a different story.”

While Salk thinks the Seahawks finishing their final five games on a high note would be good in terms of the draft pick the Jets now have dropping lower, Huard views it from a different lens.

“If they (finish the season strong) they’ll have done that without him because he’s not playing for the rest of the year,” he said.

Huard added that the trade hurts overall because he sees Adams as being a “liability in coverage that you can’t play man-coverage with.” He also said that Adams excelled close to the line of scrimmage in 2020 but teams were able to limit his impact there this season.

Huard is also worried about Adams’ long-term future due to his surgically-repaired shoulder needing another surgery.

“I think in the scheme of things as it stands now, that’s, to me, worse than the Jimmy Graham (trade),” he said.

Listen to the full discussion in the latest Brock and Salk Podcast at this link or in the player below.

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