Jamal Adams wanted out of New York, but would he have fit the Cleveland Browns?
The New York Jets reluctantly shopped star safety Jamal Adams and the Cleveland Browns were one of the few teams with the salary cap space to take on a salary of that magnitude, so should they have made a better offer?
Interestingly, Randy Gurzi of Dawg Pound Daily had set the over/under and a first and third, which most of his fellow denizens in the Dawg Pound, including this writer, thought was way too high. However, you could argue that a first and a third from Cleveland would pretty much equate to first-rounders in 2021 and 2022 from Seattle. So Gurzi pretty much nailed the value of Adams.
However, Seattle is a veteran team looking for one more Super Bowl ring, whereas the Browns are a young team that finished 6-10 last year. Cleveland would have had to look at this as a two-year rental, and it might not work at all.
As a young All-Pro and by far the best player on the Jets, Adams has every right to expect that the team should have taken care of him just like the Browns took care of Myles Garrett. An All-Pro safety might not match Garrett dollar for dollar, but you cannot game him, either, if the two sides are far apart on an extension.
The LSU connection would have helped, but it would be wishful thinking to believe that that is sufficient to guarantee he would be here for the long term. Then, if he were to walk, Cleveland would have looked at a possible compensatory free agent in the third round, four years from now. So they are looking at two great seasons and then a possible third-round pick. That would have been worth something, but it is not great.
If the Browns were Division Champs trying to hold off the up and coming Ravens, two years of Adams might be worth making a run at. But since Cleveland is a 6-10 team trying to improve, they can not give away future assets the way Seattle. Giving away high draft choices is out of the question for a player that is only available for two years.
Adams went out of his way to make his tenure in New York a short one. He had made headlines because of tweets criticizing owner Woody Johnson, who has recently been under fire for alleged comments that were racist and sexist in his capacity as Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
He has also been critical of coach Adam Gase. Mike Greenberg of ESPN had a memorable live rant on Facebook on Friday, in which he expressed his frustration as a fan, in which he tended to side with Adams. Greenberg isn’t thrilled with Johnson and does not feel the team will develop under Gase. That came through loud and clear as the normally reticent Greenberg let his feelings be known.
Adams is a legitimate top-five safety, a “coach-on-the-field” player like Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Steelers, who was also acquired via trade for a number one pick last year.
So, Browns fans, if you were Andrew Berry, would you have gone crazy like Seattle to try and bring Jamal Adams to Cleveland?
Here are some factors that went into the decision: His current contract calls for $7.2 million this year and $9.9 million next year. He is eligible for an extension now, just like Myles Garrett. As by far the best player on the Jets, he had every right to expect an extension. If the Jets were going to be heavy-handed and threaten to franchise tag him, that just is not the way a class organization treats the player it is building around. The Browns did not do that to Myles Garrett.
The agency that handles Jamal Adams is Universal Sports and Entertainment, which is headquartered in Atlanta. CEO Kevin Connor and COO Robert Brown both played college football and parlayed outstanding academic careers into contract representation. Prying their client loose from New York and negotiating a long-term deal presents a difficult challenge. Are they up to it?
Their situation in Seattle is vastly different than in New York because they have an established coach and system with a great quarterback in Russell Wilson that is a threat for the playoffs every year. It’s more understandable if Seattle has trouble coming up with the money for an extension, whereas with New York it just seemed to be an acrimonious relationship between the front office and Adams and his agents. Very likely, Adams and his agents will now come to an understanding that will make sense to both sides in Seattle.
The Browns might have been perceived by Adams’ side to be more like the Jets. Without an established track record of playoff appearances and Super Bowls, Adams and his agents might have needed an immediate extension to be happy. That, in turn, might have made it tougher to sign Baker Mayfield to his extension next year and still do the things that football teams need to do.
The Browns cannot pounce on every opportunity thrown at them during the season, or they will soon become a sad little team with no draft choices.
Pittsburgh seemed to do all right be adding Fitzpatrick by trading with the Dolphins last season, but that didn’t transform the Steelers into a Super Bowl contender. Instead, they finished just 8-8. In fairness to the Steelers, their master plan all along may have been to wait until 2020 when they will have a healthy Roethlisberger.
The Browns would not have been able to throw a huge contract at Jamal Adams, while also maneuvering with Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, and Nick Chubb. At this point, it seems like the writers at DPD prefer to franchise Chubb for one year and possibly two, but not go long-term with a running back. As for the quarterback, Cleveland would have the entire season to make up their mind, but basically, if Mayfield has a top-five season, he gets a top-five contract, simple as that. If he has an average year, he is still going to be a wealthy man, but there may be more money to pay Ward and Chubb.
If the Browns want Mayfield as their quarterback, they will extend him in 2021. They are not going to threaten him with a franchise tag, try to bully his agent and play nickel and dime games. That kind of stuff might be okay for some version of the XFL, but the leader of the team has to be treated like the leader of the team, just like Myles Garrett is the leader of the defense. That’s just what’s going to happen. They aren’t going to pull any mind games.
That limited the real opportunities that Andrew Berry could exercise with Jamal Adams, as good as he is. Berry could not throw away the Browns’ plans for future growth in order to make a two-year investment in a player, even a star like Jamal Adams. Had they gone 10-6, it might have made sense, but as a 6-10 team, they have to hang on to their draft picks.
They could have talked about players that were under contract with one or two years remaining on their contracts. Alternatively, David Njoku and Kareem Hunt are two short term assets that would fit, but they probably would not have added up to nearly enough value in return for the Jets.
If the Jets had an interest in a defensive starter that would interest the Jets, other than Garrett or Denzel Ward, they might have been able to structure a deal. But getting two number one picks from Seattle is a very valuable offer, and frankly, it would have been nuts to outbid the Seahawks on this one.
For that matter, the Browns have no one in the class of Adams, but they do have players who can play safety in the NFL. It’s considered to be a deep unit if not monstrously talented.
If I were Andrew Berry, I would not have been motivated to offer a deal that would excite the Jets. It’s painful to see Adams wind up another team, but truthfully he is more valuable to teams that have established records in the playoffs. The Browns were better off opting out of this opportunity, tempting as it was.