Back in May, I suggested the 49ers should pursue a trade for New York Jets star safety Jamal Adams. Then, last month, he formally requested a trade from his incumbent team and included San Francisco on the shortlist of teams he would welcome a trade to.
Acquiring a player of Adams' ilk would be challenging to say the least. Prohibitive, perhaps. It likely would cost more than a pretty penny in assets, and then there's the matter of paying him what he wants. The entire impetus for his trade demand is that he deservedly wants to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL, and he is dissatisfied with the Jets for dragging their feet.
I get it. The 49ers already are limited in cap space, and George Kittle has yet to sign a contract extension. Then there's the financial impact of the coronavirus, which could significantly lower the salary cap for next season and possibly beyond. Adding Adams to the fold likely would mean at least one noteworthy contributor on the team would soon be playing elsewhere. And, draft picks are particularly valuable for cap-strapped teams.
Adams won't turn 25 until October. Any team acquiring him could count on many more seasons of outstanding production. He also carries modest cap hits of $7.2 million and $9.9 million for the next two seasons, and reportedly would be willing to go to one of his preferred destinations without a pre-arranged extension. He's not much older than the prospects in next year's draft, and sorry, but he's better than all of them -- especially those at the end of the first round, where the 49ers are likely to be picking.
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'But the cap is going to go way down,' you say. In the immediate, that's correct, it's basically a certainty. But clearly, the Kansas City Chiefs expect the cap to rise significantly in the coming years. They just signed Patrick Mahomes -- who turns 25 in September -- to a gargantuan 10-year contract that could be worth up to $503 million. Sure, they could come to regret it, big time. But Mahomes is worth the risk.
As for Kittle, yes, he still needs to -- and will be -- paid. However, it seems likely he'll end up signing an extension for an annual salary well below the massive numbers that were being thrown around at the beginning of the offseason. It's not that he doesn't deserve it. It's just the way the NFL works.
Perhaps those factors explain why Sports Illustrated's Corbin Smith reported Thursday, citing multiple sources, that the 49ers have had preliminary discussions with the Jets about Adams' availability.
And, within Smith's report, he laid out yet another reason why San Francisco might be willing to do what it takes to get Adams: the Seattle Seahawks.
Just like the 49ers, the Seahawks -- who also were on Adams' shortlist -- reportedly recently engaged New York in preliminary discussions for the standout safety. Smith suggested that Seattle likely would have to part with its 2021 first-round draft pick, as well as additional draft assets and/or players to acquire him. That gives you an idea of what the 49ers would have to give up.
That's a steep price, to be sure. But I'd argue it'd be a lot more palatable than having him play not just in San Francisco's division, but for the 49ers' most bitter rival for many years to come.
The 49ers were at least one tier above the Seahawks last season, but let's not forget, they literally beat out Seattle for the NFC West title by a matter of inches.
Adams already is a game-changer. San Francisco cannot afford to let him become a division-changer. If that means paying a hefty price and taking on more risk, so be it.