The Seattle Seahawks don’t need their first-round draft picks, right? They certainly don’t have a choice now after sending their 2021 and 2022 first-round picks and more to the New York Jets in order to secure safety Jamal Adams.
The deal, announced by Seattle on Saturday, also consisted of a 2021 third-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald. In return, the Seahawks received a 2022 fourth-round pick on top of the All-Pro defender, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. New York made it clear it was going to wait for a big deal, and well, the Jets certainly got that while the Seahawks parted ways with picks they likely would have traded on draft day or wasted.
Seattle had drafted safeties in the second, third and fourth rounds over the last three years; Tre Flowers in 2018 and Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi in 2019. All three are still with the team, but none turned into the budding star the Seahawks hoped for.
General manager John Schneider isn’t shy about creating draft packages around the illustrious first-round picks and Seattle’s hit-rate on its previous draft hauls has been underwhelming, which makes this mind-boggling deal a little more digestible. The most notable players the Seahawks have drafted in Round 1 since 2011 include defensive end Bruce Irvin, who returned to Seattle this offseason, out of the 2012 draft, and running back Rashaad Penny in 2018. The Seahawks’ need to land an unhappy Adams from the Jets was critical to the success of their defense. What was once the most dominant unit in the NFL has struggled to find its identity after seeing cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas depart. Now, there’s Adams, who can be a cornerstone in Seattle.
Adams will immediately bring stability to the secondary. The Seahawks got the Jets’ most dynamic player who wanted out of New York and had Seattle on his shortlist of destinations. The team’s projected secondary now includes Shaquill Griffin, Flowers, Quinton Dunbar, who is facing armed robbery charges, Quandre Diggs, and Adams. Adams missed two games last season due to an ankle injury but still had another commanding season. Since 2017, when he was selected with the Jets’ sixth-overall pick, Adams has ranked first among all defensive backs in sacks (12) and tied for second in forced fumbles (six). He sits in the top five in snaps, tackles, sacks, and forced fumbles.
The Seahawks are going all-in with quarterback Russell Wilson playing in his prime and could have an NFC Championship Game-contending roster. The stagnant defense was one of the team’s biggest woes. In 2019, Seattle posted some of its worst numbers in the Pete Carroll era, including total yards allowed per game (381.6), passing yards allowed (263.9), and sacks (28). The defense was an obvious focus in the 2020 draft with its top two picks spent on linebacker Jordyn Brooks and defensive end Darrell Taylor. Adams’ addition undoubtedly makes this unit better and can be the wrecking ball Seattle has been searching for over the past few years.
Adams has lined up at more snaps as a linebacker or on the defensive line than safety in his career, according to ESPN Stats & Info, which gives the Seahawks similar range to what they had with Chancellor: a player who can sneak up and be disruptive in the box and also sit back and be equally dangerous in coverage. If Chancellor played closer to the line during his time in Seattle, the Seahawks could use Adams that same way. It would allow Adams to cover players like San Francisco 49ers’ tight end George Kittle—who has caused havoc in the NFC West and across the league—and reinforce the middle of Seattle’s defense. Among secondary units in the division, Adams’ presence skyrockets the team to the top of the standings.
The Seahawks obviously spent a lot on Adams, which comes with its own share of concerns, including a looming contract extension for Griffin and an extension for Adams, whose current contract expires after the 2021 season and will command a potential market-resetting deal if he continues this level of play. But Seattle can’t continue to waste Wilson’s talent, no matter how cap-strapped or rigid it makes the team with adding new talent. The Seahawks have long stuck to what’s worked, even when it doesn’t, and Adams’ addition shows their continued effort to reestablish their defense identity.