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Jamal Adams injury is cautionary tale for Seattle Seahawks and others

Vincent Frank

No one blamed the Seattle Seahawks for exhausting two first-round picks and change to acquire star safety Jamal Adams from the New York Jets ahead of the start of the 2020 season.

Seattle was coming off a 2019 campaign that saw it win 11 games and narrowly lose to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. For general manager John Schneider and Co., it was all about rebuilding a secondary that was now without core Legion of Boom members Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas from a bygone era.

This win-now mentality had done Seattle well. The idea that keeping too much of an eye on the future can close a championship window in a blink of an eye.

Fast forward less than two years, and Seattle’s championship window has closed for good. The team sits at 4-8 and in last place in the NFC West. There’s renewed questions about quarterback Russell Wilson’s future in the Pacific Northwest.

As for Jamal Adams, he’s now out for the remainder of the season after suffering shoulder injury in Week 13’s win over the San Francisco 49ers. This will represent the second consecutive campaign with Seattle that the All-Pro safety has played in 12 games due to a shoulder injury. It should also act as a cautionary tale. Here’s why.

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Jamal Adams is great, but there’s a caveat

seattle seahawks' jamal adams injury
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be clear here. None of this is to criticize Adams as a player. He’s his own monster. We’re talking about a safety who can play at all three levels of the defense.

Last season alone with Seattle, Adams recorded 14 quarterback hits and an absurd 9.5 sacks from the safety position. Playing more in the defensive backfield this season, Adams matched his career total in interceptions with two. We’re talking about a top-three safety in the NFL.

In no way does this mean Adams or anyone of his ilk is worth mortgaging the future. That has to be left up to either the quarterback position, elite edge pass rushers or franchise left tackles. This has played out with Seattle’s performance against the pass.

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Seattle Seahawks pass defense with and without Jamal Adams

  • 2018: 65.0% completion, 4,103 yards, 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions (94.3 rating)
  • 2019: 64.0% completion, 4,407 yards, 19 touchdowns, 16 interceptions (85.6 rating)
  • 2020: 66.8% completion, 4,811 yards, 23 touchdowns, 14 interceptions (90.2 rating)
  • 2021: 67.2% completion, 2,744 yards, 17 touchdowns, 7 interceptions (94.5 rating)

We acknowledge that there’s more to Adams’ game than coverage. We also realize Seattle’s cornerback issues have been the main culprit to their struggles in that regard.

Even then, there’s something to be said about team-wide impact. Adams has not had it for the Seahawks. Players at his position rarely have that type of impact. That is to say, what a franchise quarterback or left tackle can bring to the table. It’s limited to a select few, the likes of Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu included.

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Mortgaging the future

seahawks mortgaged future with jamal adams trade
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Moving off future first-round picks has to be done under the belief that you are in win-now mode. Realistically, Seattle’s roster was on the downturn when Schneider pulled off the trade.

It was the perfect storm in the Pacific Northwest. Acquiring a player many around the league had coveted. Doing so with the foolhardy belief that continued contention would be the name of the game.

At the time of the blockbuster trade for Jamal Adams, Seattle had not even earned as much as a spot in the conference championship game in a half-decade. Most of the core members of that team outside of Russell Wilson were either retired or playing for other squads.

Attempting to stay relevant while mortgaging your future is not in any way a winning formula in today’s NFL. The Adams trade proved that to a T.

Now that he’s lost for the remainder of the season, Seattle finds itself in a terrible spot. As of right now, the first-rounder it send to the Jets for Jamal Adams would be No. 5 overall. In and of itself, that’s a mighty high price to pay.

Considering Wilson’s questionable future in Seattle and other major holes throughout the roster, it now appears that the aforementioned blockbuster will be a deterent to success for these Seahawks over the next several years.

This isn’t an indictment on Adams. Rather, it’s an example of cautionary tales being the name of the game for Pete Carroll’s Seahawks and other teams who pull off blockbuster trades without even one eye on the future.