After months of speculation, drama and rumors about a Jamal Adams trade, two things became clear Saturday afternoon.
First was that the Seahawks valued Adams so much they were willing to part with multiple years of first round picks and a starter at safety to acquire him from the Jets. Whether or not Adams was worth that compensation is a discussion for another time.
The second point is that, judging by what the Seahawks agreed to trade, the Ravens likely never would’ve parted with what they had to to acquire Adams.
The Seahawks traded for Adams and a fourth-round pick, but they had to send two first round picks, a third round pick in 2021 and safety Bradley McDougald. That's simply a price tag the Ravens shouldn’t have paid.
Trade:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 25, 2020
Jets deal Jamal Adams and 4th-round pick in 2022
Seattle, in exchange for Bradley McDougald (safety), 1st-round pick in 2021, 3rd-round pick in 2021, and 1st-round pick in 2022, source tells ESPN.
Deal is pending physicals.
With so many cornerstone players like Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown Jr. and eventually Lamar Jackson up for contracts in the next few years, the Ravens would’ve had a hard time fitting Adams and his eventual contract extension under the salary cap — specifically with the salary cap problems the league could run into in future years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Adams were to sign a long-term contract shy of $20 million per season, that would significantly limit the Ravens’ ability to re-sign a handful of younger players on the rest of the roster, and also mean the team’s surplus at safety would be a luxury they couldn’t afford.
Safety Earl Thomas still has three years left on his four-year, $55 million dollar deal. Chuck Clark just signed a three-year, $16 million extension this past offseason. And if the Jets were set on getting a starting safety in return, the Ravens would’ve been forced to part with Thomas or Clark, if the Jets even were interested in taking on Thomas or Clark.
While the Seahawks, like the Ravens, are likely to have draft choices around similar parts of the draft, it’s reasonable to think the Ravens would’ve had to pay just as much, if even a bit more, if the Jets wanted to send Adams out of the conference.
And while Adams is one of the league’s best safeties, parting with two years of first round picks, a starter (who, albeit, would have been replaced by Adams anyways) and a third round pick is almost certainly an overpay.
That covers the logistical parts of the trade.
A bit of a deeper dive shows that the Ravens and Seahawks are simply at different times in their Super Bowl window, too
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is set to turn 32-years-old during the regular season. Their highly-touted middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, one of the best defensive players in the sport, turned 30 in June. Both of those franchise players have already gotten paid. And while Adams helps the Seahawks win in future, he also helps them win immediately, which is right in their title contention window.
The Ravens, who also are prepared to win now, certainly have a more extended window — on paper — than the Seahawks do. Jackson is nearly a decade younger than Wilson and their two top pass-catchers, Andrews and Marquise Brown, are entering their third and second seasons in the league, respectively.
Stanley still has one year left on his rookie deal before a contract explosion, and depending on who starts at right guard and center, three or even four offensive linemen could start on their rookie deals in 2020.
The defensive side of the ball has Humphrey, due for a deal after the 2021 season, and the looming prospect of losing outside linebacker Matthew Judon — and thus having to replace him with either a free agent or high draft choice next season.
All of that is to say, while the Ravens’ roster is still young, they’re all eventually going to reach their paydays. And when that comes, the Ravens will have to cut ties with players they don’t want to.
The only way to replenish talent then, with the team a few years away from salary cap trouble, is through the draft. And the Ravens dealing away multiple draft choices in future years for a player that could limit the team’s ability to re-sign homegrown, premier players at premier positions is simply too much to have to part with.
It’s unclear how involved the Ravens were in Adams and whether the reported interest was just noise, or legitimate interest.
But either way, a non-deal for Adams is in the best interest of the franchise both in the short and long term.
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