The Ravens already have one of, if not the best, secondaries in the NFL.
But can they make it better?
New York Jets safety Jamal Adams reportedly isn’t happy with his current situation, as he and the Jets have reached a stalemate in contract negotiations. The 24-year-old safety is one of the league’s best at his position and wants to be compensated like so. Apparently, there isn’t a number that satisfies both he and the Jets.
With trade talks increasing around the 2017 sixth-overall pick, along with a video of former Ravens’ safety Tony Jefferson talking with Adams about Baltimore, there have been rumors flying that the Ravens are interested in Adams’ services.
The Ravens were reportedly interested in acquiring Adams at last year’s trade deadline, but no deal was made. Since then, though, the Ravens situation has changed a bit. They extended Chuck Clark to a three-year, $15.3 million deal to boost an already talented secondary to one of the league’s elite, and for the foreseeable future too. He paired with Earl Thomas last year to make the secondary a formidable one for the league's best team.
And if the Ravens want to make a run for Adams, they’ll have a few bitter pills to swallow to get him on the roster.
Without a fifth or seventh-round pick in next year’s draft, albeit with a compensatory pick for the since-departed Michael Pierce likely on the way, the Ravens already don’t have much draft capital to start with. Should they part with a first and a third-round pick as well, which is the reported asking price for Adams, they’d be left with second, fourth and sixth-round picks before the compensatory pick rolls through. Meaning, at best, they’ll be left with four picks — and just one in the draft's first two days — in next year’s draft.
Michael Irvin just texted me on the Jamal Adams rumor: "He is great in coverage. Jets want a 1st and a 3rd. He is great for that locker room that needed Michael Bennett to speak up after having just a donut here..." @1053SS @1053thefan pic.twitter.com/y0aYA9hsr5— RJ Choppy (@rjchoppy) May 22, 2020
The Ravens, of course, could roll the dice on what the 2021 NFL Draft could look like with the looming threat of a diminished, or canceled altogether, college football season. That would certainly require some strong knowledge of the prospect of a 2020 college season, as well as a gutsy call from general manager Eric DeCosta.
If the Ravens decide Adams is worth the first and third-round picks the Jets are reportedly asking for, they’ll run into another problem: How to fit him on the roster.
Clark’s extension signaled the Ravens were confident and comfortable with him starting in the secondary as the team’s director of traffic. That leaves Thomas, who just completed the first year of his four-year contract with the Ravens.
His cap number starts at $15 million in 2020 and rises by $1 million per season until the 2022 season. He’ll create $10 million in dead money after the 2020 season if the Ravens want to get out of his deal with a savings of just $6 million against the cap. After the 2021 season, the dead money dips to $5 million and the cap savings rise to $12 million.
Either way, it’s not a desirable situation if the Ravens want to move on from the 31-year-old safety to bring in Adams. A trade partner for Thomas isn’t likely, either.
Unless the Ravens are comfortable with playing three safeties on the field at one time, which they certainly could do consistently with Clark’s ability to play in the box, there’s not an easy answer to how to make the puzzle pieces work.
And if the Ravens are able to slide Adams in and make the situation work on the field, he’s still up for a new contract, of which there are two years left. That deal would likely come in around $15 million per season.
Adams wants to be compensated like one of the best safeties in the NFL, and rightfully so. But that might not fit with what the Ravens can afford, with Clark and Thomas already in the fold. Marcus Peters and Tavon Young have already gotten their contracts, and Marlon Humphrey is due for one in the next two years, too. Simply, the Ravens cannot afford to devote that significant of a percentage to their secondary.
Additionally, they’re due to pay tight end Mark Andrews, tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. and quarterback Lamar Jackson in the next few seasons. The Ravens have got to be smart about who they’re paying, when they’re paying them, and how they’re paying them.
DeCosta has assuredly thought all of this through.
And while the prospect of adding yet another All-Pro player to the Ravens would help them become perhaps the league’s best team on paper, that’s exactly where the Adams thoughts hit some major flaws.
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