What did the Seattle Seahawks give up for Jamal Adams?
Over the past few seasons, the Seattle Seahawks are no strangers to massive trades for notable names – from Percy Harvin to Jimmy Graham to Jadeveon Clowney, these trades have had varying degrees of success. Recently, the Seattle Seahawks traded their 2021 first and third-round picks, 2022 first-round pick, and safety Bradley McDougald to the New York Jets for safety Jamal Adams and a 2022 fourth-round pick.
Did Seattle give up too much?
It’s no secret that a package centering on two first-round picks is a hefty price to pay for any player, especially for a player that plays strong safety, which isn’t considered a “premium” position (unlike quarterback, left tackle, and cornerback).
However, the overarching theme for Seattle is maximizing their championship opportunity during their contention window – a window that is directly related to their two best players: Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. Wilson has played well enough to be a strong MVP contender each of the past three seasons and Wagner has a potential out on his contract after the 2021 season. Even if Wilson continues his MVP play for the next few seasons and Wagner remains with the team through the 2023 season, Seattle has other pieces who are under contract for just one more season (such as Chris Carson and Shaquill Griffin) or two (Duane Brown and Tyler Lockett).
With the way Seattle wants to run their defense, a rangy free safety and a disruptive box safety (think Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor) are necessary for a championship unit. Free safety Quandre Diggs, who arrived in a midseason trade last year from the Detroit Lions, has the rangy part of the equation covered, but (now former) strong safety Bradley McDougald wasn’t in the same stratosphere as Chancellor.
Though he certainly helped keep Seattle’s defense afloat the last couple seasons, McDougald provided a very low ceiling – he was always in the right place, but game-changing plays from him were few and far between. In Adams, Seattle has a player that can not only transform their defense but one that will be truly disruptive.
Who is Jamal Adams?
Adams was the 6th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of LSU. In his rookie season he made the Pro Football Writer’s Association All-Rookie team, in 2018 he made his first Pro Bowl and was a second-team All-Pro, and stepped up his game even further last year with his second Pro Bowl nod and a first-team All-Pro selection.
When you think of game-changing plays from safeties, you may think of interceptions. This remains the weakest point in Adams’ game, as he has just two in his first three seasons. However, he more than makes up for it with his ability to rush the passer – he has 12 sacks in his career, with 6.5 sacks last year (which would have led the 2019 Seattle Seahawks).
How will the Seahawks secondary look with Adams?
Adams will slide into McDougald’s strong safety role and could impact Seattle’s defense even more than that. Depending on what the Seahawks see from second-year safety Marquise Blair, they could be inclined to shift away from the base defense they used the majority of last season (to minimal success) in favor of a more modern nickel defense. This would put their five best defensive backs – Adams, Diggs, Blair, and cornerbacks Shaquille Griffin & Tre Flowers on the field at the same time, allowing them to more effectively counter the lethal passing offenses that run rampant in today’s NFL.
In this nickel defense, Griffin and Flowers would stay at cornerback, while Adams would man the strong safety position. It makes more sense, though, for Diggs to shift to the slot in nickel defense (he covers much better than Blair), while Blair can use his speed and violence to fill in at free safety. It’s possible that second-year defensive back Ugo Amadi will compete for the nickel role as well.
Having much-improved depth and additional experience will not only allow Seattle to be better prepared in case of an injury but will elevate the level of the secondary as a whole.
Does this make Seattle’s secondary elite?
As it stands, the answer is no – but Adams goes a long way towards Seattle’s secondary earning that label. The safety combination of Adams and Diggs is arguably the best safety combination in the NFL, and Shaquille Griffin remains a Pro Bowl level cornerback. Seattle was counting on cornerback Quinton Dunbar – acquired in an offseason trade from the Washington Football Team – to challenge and likely take the second cornerback spot from Tre Flowers, but his status for this season is upon the air as legal troubles have placed him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.
If Seattle does move towards nickel defense more, and Blair takes a big step forward and Flowers makes a third-year jump similar to Griffin’s last season, Seattle could once again reclaim their throne of best secondary in the NFL.
Top Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images