Jamal Adams

NFL rumors: 49ers, Seahawks have discussed Jamal Adams trade with Jets

NFL rumors: 49ers, Seahawks have discussed Jamal Adams trade with Jets

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.

However ...

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.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

'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.

[RELATED: Lott believes 49ers trading for Adams would be 'huge win']

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. 

Why A.J. Green trade doesn't make sense for 49ers unlike other big names

Why A.J. Green trade doesn't make sense for 49ers unlike other big names

I've argued that the 49ers should pursue trades for New York Jets star safety Jamal Adams and Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku. The latter certainly would be accomplished the easiest of the two, though the former is worth the extra trouble. 

I stand by both of those arguments as each player would be an upgrade over what San Francisco already has, while both are young and still have bright futures ahead of them. Though he surely is quite talented, the same cannot be said of Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green.

Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox recently listed the one personnel move he believes each NFL team should make before the start of the 2020 season, and a trade for Green is precisely what he recommended for the 49ers. That is one big-name player, however, that San Francisco has very little reason to consider.

For starters, time simply is not on Green's side. Unlike Adams and Njoku, who both will be 24 years of age when the season starts, Green will be 32. Then there's the matter of availability. Unlike Adams and Njoku, Green has quite a long injury history, posting only two full seasons in the last six, while missing 29 games over the last four. That number includes the 16 games he missed last season while sitting out the entirety of the campaign.

Both of those matters could be easily overlooked for the purposes of this coming season -- if not for one major deterrent. As Knox pointed out, the 49ers could have a major need at receiver, depending on the health of Deebo Samuel. 

"Though the recently oft-injured Green may no longer be the elite pass-catcher he once was, he could be the sort of reliable and consistent veteran San Francisco had in Emmanuel Sanders over the second half of 2019," Knox wrote. "Adding Green would give quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a go-to target in clutch situations. It would also provide insurance for second-year wideout Deebo Samuel, who suffered a foot injury while training this offseason."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

If only it were that simple.

That aforementioned deterrent is a financial one. Green will make nearly $17.9 million on the franchise tag this coming season, a salary San Francisco couldn't absorb without shedding a significant amount of other expenses. Not to mention, the 49ers have to leave open the possibility that they might have to use the franchise tag on George Kittle. 

And that's just for this coming season. 

Green reportedly doesn't want to play on the franchise tag, and the Cincinnati Enquirer's Tyler Dragon reported in December that he wants to be paid like "one of the best receivers in the NFL." Obviously, that would mean a significant, long-term financial commitment, which the 49ers can't realistically offer him. Assuming Kittle is re-signed to a lucrative contract extension, they have nowhere near that kind of room in the salary cap moving forward to be able to pay Green what he is seeking.

And that's another area where the potential pursuits of Green and Adams differ. San Francisco is led by one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. Coach Kyle Shanahan is a luxury in the respect that he is able to get more out of his offensive weapons by scheming them open, which is why you don't see any large salaries -- Kittle aside -- at San Francisco's skill positions. 

[RELATED: Mahomes contract could put pressure on 49ers signing Kittle]

Shanahan, though, doesn't have nearly as much impact on the defensive execution. He is more reliant on the talent of the personnel on that side of the ball, which is why the 49ers have paid large annual sums for the likes of Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Richard Sherman. Adams would help in an area that Shanahan cannot. 

Green could be extremely effective in Shanahan's system, but it would be fiscally irresponsible to a tremendous degree to funnel the team's remaining resources to an aging receiver who might not be any better than what San Francisco already has at this point. Not to mention, the cost it would take to acquire Green from the Bengals. 

They had every opportunity to trade him last season, when they surely would have received a massive haul in return. Cincinnati then invested the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft on quarterback Joe Burrow, whose transition surely would be aided by having a veteran receiver like Green to throw to. So, it seems highly unlikely that any team could acquire him on the cheap. 

If San Francisco is going to invest both draft and financial capital in a difference-maker, it needs to be on someone who is a certainty to both improve the odds on and extend the current championship window. Green doesn't check either of those boxes for the 49ers, which is why they're extremely unlikely to do what it would take to acquire him.

Jamal Adams would bring to 49ers what they're lacking, per Gil Brandt

Jamal Adams would bring to 49ers what they're lacking, per Gil Brandt

Gil Brandt and Ronnie Lott both are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They also both believe the 49ers should pursue a Jamal Adams trade with the New York Jets.

Brandt, who was vital in the Dallas Cowboys' heyday as an executive, lists the 49ers as one of five teams -- along with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks -- that should try to acquire the star safety. In his eyes, Adams would bring to the 49ers what safety Jaquiski Tartt has not: Health and turnovers. 

Adams, 24, only has missed two games through his three-year NFL career. Tartt, 28, hasn't been as lucky in the health department. He never once has played all 16 games in the regular season and missed four last year due to injury. 

Tartt also has forced only seven turnovers in his five-year career. Adams, an All-Pro last season, has 12 in 13 fewer games. The former No. 6 overall draft pick has two interceptions, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in his young career. 

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Adams reportedly listed the 49ers as one of seven teams he would welcome a trade to after feuding with the Jets this offseason. Lott, the greatest safety in 49ers history, believes bringing him to the Bay would be a big win for the reigning NFC champions.

"All I know is this, I've been following him and I've been watching him, and if they could get him, that would be, in my mind, a huge, huge win for John Lynch," Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area's Josh Schrock on Monday. "When you think of a guy of his stature, knowing how he loves the game and his commitment to the game, he's going to make a locker room better. He's the kind of guy that's just going to make the locker room better.

"So, yeah if they can get [him], they might as well -- to me, I'm the kind of guy that if you want to win, you find ways to get these kind of moments done."

[RELATED: How Dak's franchise tag compares to Jimmy G's 2020 contract]

Adams is unlike most safeties. In 2019. receivers gained just 4.5 yards per target against him, per Pro Football Focus. He also is a great blitzer, recording 6.5 sacks last season and 12 in his first three seasons.

It also is unlikely the 49ers acquire him. Adams easily could be flat out too expensive for San Francisco, especially with a long list of free agents on the way, including star tight end George Kittle. Front office, coaches and players like Richard Sherman have shown how much they believe in Tartt as well.

While betting on Adams to wear a 49ers jersey next season doesn't seem like a safe play, it certainly would be huge in their hopes to get back to the Super Bowl.