Fann: Seahawks cutting Jamal Adams is an option, albeit unlikely

Mar 16, 2023, 3:32 PM
Seahawks Jamal Adams...
Seahawks safety Jamal Adams during pregame warm-ups in the game against the Tennessee Titans. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Among the Seahawks’ myriad of roster moves this week was retaining safety Ryan Neal via the first refusal tender. Neal, who was a restricted free agent, will make $2.63 million on a one-year deal, though he’s still able to negotiate with other teams. Seattle would have the option to match any offer sheet from another club.

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While it’s possible that Neal ends up elsewhere, let’s assume that he’ll be back in Seattle for the time being. And it makes sense why the Seahawks would want to keep the veteran safety, especially at that number. Neal has been savior in the secondary as an injury replacement to Jamal Adams the last three seasons.

Neal has made 19 combined starts from 2020-22 with 160 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks and three interceptions. Pro Football Focus named him to their 2022 All-Pro Team after giving him an 82.0 full-season grade.

Neal’s emergence and value relative to Adams has some Seahawks fans wondering about the possibility of Seattle moving on from their high-priced strong safety. Strictly from a financial standpoint, the Seahawks could cut ties with Adams, who they spent capital on to get in a 2020 trade with the Jets, then spent money ($70.58 million over four years) prior to the 2021 season to extend him.

Releasing Adams after June 1 would save Seattle $8.4 million in cap space, per Over the Cap. Such a move would result in $9.7 million in dead money, with Adams receiving $2.56 million in guaranteed salary. That’s a significant difference from the $23.9 million in dead money as a pre-June 1 cut.

While it’s theoretically an option at Seattle’s disposal, it’s unlikely to be the route the team chooses, though. For starters, despite Adams being a polarizing figure among fans, all indications point to him being a well-regarded player by both teammates and the coaching staff. Sending Adams packing wouldn’t go over well in the locker room as there’s surely belief that Adams will return to form (and health) in 2023.

Is it worth rocking the boat for $8.4 million?

The added layer is that money doesn’t do Seattle any good in free agency. Freeing up $8.4 million on June 2 is much less valuable than having $8.4 million now that could be used with several notable free agents still available.

The only way cutting Adams would become advantageous for Seattle is if his recovery is deemed well behind schedule. The savings is worth it if Adams is projected to miss a notable chunk of the 2023 season.

“We’ll see him in the next week or so in person, so we’re anxious to get connected with him,” Pete Carroll told reporters in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine. “But when he came out and visited with other guys and checked in, everything’s going the way it’s supposed to go.”

Adams shared a video of himself running on a treadmill earlier in March, but that’s hardly an indication he’s nearing a return to football activities as he continues to rehab from a torn quadriceps injury that cost him essentially the entire 2022 season.

A much more likely outcome is some sort of contract restructure that would immediately create more cap space.

Ultimately, I’d bet that Adams remains on Seattle’s roster this season, but it does seem inevitable that this will be Adams’ final year with the Seahawks barring a dramatic resurgence back to All-Pro form.

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