Now that the 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone, the Jets still have one big question lingering over their heads: What to do about the Jamal Adams situation?
Undoubtedly, Adams is one of the top young players in the NFL and the most talented player on the Jets. But the star safety has repeatedly gone public with his desire for a new contract, despite the fact that the Jets still have plenty of time to get something figured out.
So should the Jets re-sign Adams to a long-term deal, or has he become too much of a distraction -- to the point where they should move on?
CONTRACT: The Jets recently exercised Adams' fifth-year option on his rookie deal, paying him close to $9.9 million for the 2021 season. In 2020, he's set to make just shy of $3.6 million with his base salary and bonuses combined.
Why should Adams stay?
Sam Darnold may be the franchise quarterback the Jets hoped he was when they drafted him third overall in 2018, but Adams is arguably the face of the franchise and is one of the most dynamic defensive players in the NFL.
From his safety position, Adams can play both up in the box to either stop the run or blitz, and can also drop back into coverage, playing a center field role in the middle of the Gang Green secondary.
In 46 career games with the Jets (all starts), Adams has totaled 12.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, and two interceptions, proving that he can fly all over the field. In 2019, his 6.5 sacks were second on the team behind Jordan Jenkins' 8.0. Yes, the Jets' pass rush struggled to get to the quarterback, but a safety nearly leading a team in sacks is just unheard of in the NFL.
And aside from Adams' pure playmaking ability, the two-time Pro Bowler also brings a swagger and an attitude that the team needs on defense. If Adams isn't a part of Gang Green's defense, who will opposing offenses fear on that side of the ball? Maybe C.J. Mosley, but he needs to prove he can stay healthy. The point is, Adams is the emotional leader and biggest playmaker the Jets have on defense, and he's a big-time fan favorite.
Why should Adams go?
As good as Adams is on the field, the case can be made that all of this contract back-and-forth has become a distraction -- something the Jets have wanted to desperately avoid.
Adams has the right to want a new deal, but he should also understand that not only is he under team control through 2021 thanks to the team option, but the Jets could also franchise tag him once or even twice to keep him on the team without dishing out a massive contract.
If that were to happen, things could get ugly fast, as Adams could hold out and create even more of a media circus. GM Joe Douglas certainly doesn't want that, and he could make a statement by trading Adams, as teams are likely to come calling if the safety is still unsigned heading toward this season's trade deadline.
And let's not forget the headlines Adam caused at this past year's deadline. After reports came out that the Jets had discussions with teams like the Cowboys about possibly trading Adams, Douglas said that he will always answer the phone and listen to offers, even if he isn't actively calling other teams to shop a player. This rubbed Adams the wrong way, and he then voiced his displeasure before refusing to talk to the GM or head coach Adam Gase until he cooled down a bit.
Would the Jets reach a point where Adams just simply isn't worth keeping around any longer? Keep in mind, the reported asking price for Adams was a first-round pick and more, so could the Jets get an offer they couldn't refuse?
What's the right move?
The Jets may not want to do it right now, and they really don't need to do it right now since they have time, but the right move is to sign Adams to the long-term extension he wants.
Sure, the negotiations could drag on and both sides could go back and forth for months, but Adams is simply too great of a talent to let walk out the door. He's only 24 years old and is already an elite NFL player. And Douglas, who comes from organizations that have built winning teams in Baltimore and Philadelphia, knows that keeping good players in the building is always a priority.
What could Adams' new deal look like? It's hard to speculate, but the current highest-paid safety in the NFL is Chicago's Eddie Jackson, who signed a four-year deal worth $58.4 million with $33 million guaranteed. Tennessee's Kevin Byard is next on the list with a little less than $31 million guaranteed. The guaranteed money seems to be the sticking point for most players, and Adams could likely be looking for a four- or five-year deal with at least $35 million guaranteed.
If Adams wants to be the highest paid safety in the NFL, the Jets should oblige.
He's worth it.