The Jamal Adams skeptics are beside themselves. First the Seahawks expend great treasure to acquire a safety, then double down by expending great treasure to keep him long term.
Since there’s no salary cap in space exploration, Jeff Bezos is free to spend large and shoot for the moon. Why do the Seahawks?
The Seahawks took the gamble for one reason: Adams spoils the week of every opponent’s offensive coordinator.
Those are the guys responsible to account for the defender who is hard to account for. Or as Adams likes to describe himself, a position-less “defensive weapon.”
After lengthy negotiations for a contract extension went this week from a reported impasse to completion in 24 hours, Adams demonstrated a previously unrecognized versatility that made big Seahawks training camp news Tuesday: He can blink too.
Adams became the NFL’s top-paid safety, but didn’t surpass the compensation for defensive captain LB Bobby Wagner, giving the Seahawks their first “win” of the preseason. The deal closer? A scolding from Adams’ mother.
According to Adams, mom texted from Dallas and told her son to quit fooling around, take the Seahawks offer — four years worth up to $72 million, with $38 million guaranteed, including a $20 million signing bonus — and get to practice.
“She said my full name, and when my mother says my full name, I think I need to pay attention,” he said after his first full practice Tuesday. “She gave me a nice little paragraph, and basically told me that, ‘You don’t have to prove anything else to anybody. You did it. You did enough. We’re happy.’
” As long as my family’s happy man and I’m happy, I can come and do what I love to do.”
Moral of the story: Somebody is way over-paying Seahawks GM John Schneider and way under-paying Mom. At least, make sure she gets her own ring when Adams and the Seahawks win the Super Bowl.
If you buy the role as decider, her intervention completed the oft-debated investment in a safety that gave coach Pete Carroll a long-term conclusion to a 15-month pursuit of what he believes is a defensive difference-maker.
“This was the plan the whole time,” he said. “Go after a great football player, get him in the program, and pay what you have to pay in terms of draft picks (to the New York Jets), knowing that we were going to do a contract. It took a while to get it done, but it’s over now.
“He’s a great football player, a young man (26 in October) that’s just getting started, and loves being here. He’s a big factor on your team, not only play-wise but also spirit-wise, in the leadership and toughness that he brings. The juice that he brings is unique.”
For all that he brought last season — his 9.5 sacks were an NFL record for a defensive back — he wasn’t around for a fair chunk of it, missing four games with a groin injury. By the end of the season, he was barely serviceable, playing with two broken fingers and a torn shoulder labrum, all of which received post-season surgery.
He had to play in a shoulder harness that limited his ability to raise his arms in pass defense, something the Rams took note of in their playoff win over Seattle.
Adams offered a surprisingly frank summary of the injuries: “I was like glass last year.”
The injuries likely were random, but it does bring up the question of whether Adams’ versatility is a bit of a liability, at least when it comes to a 6-1, 213-pounder playing in the box against big, sweaty meanies.
Pro Football Reference recorded that Adams lined up at linebacker 390 out of the 784 snaps he played. He was also on the line 94 times, 173 as slot corner, 17 as a wide corner 149 at free safety.
The high number at linebacker was good evidence for seeking linebacker money in contract negotiations. But there is no negotiations in football for giving away 50 to 100 pounds per play.
“It was tough,” he said. “I never went through anything like that, never missed football games since I have been playing the game of football. I had to learn. I had to learn a lot, as far as how to take care of my body even more.”
Carroll claimed that off-season repairs were successful.
“He’s fully back from everything as far as the work that was demanded of him.” he said. “We’ll see how he does. He’s got some hand issues; it’s going to be different than in the workouts. His shoulder looks great. We just have to make sure we don’t overdo it with him.”
Adams also has to cut down on the errors that left him out of position, particularly in pass defense. Pro Football Focus in 2020 gave him the lowest coverage grade of his four-year career.
“I think he’ll be more consistent,” Carroll said. “He’ll be able to take advantage of the scheme more so. His timing on pressures, his timing on disguises will all be more orchestrated and more refined.
“It’s not like he’s been out in left field somewhere. He knows what’s going on. He’s just got to get his feet on the ground. It’ll come quickly.”
The Adams skeptics remain unmoved by rhetoric. But he now has four years to prove them wrong, presuming he can stay out from under the big, sweaty meanies.